This guidance explains:
If you decide after reading the guidance that the County Council may be responsible for the damage or injury caused, you should complete a compensation claim form and send it to us by post:
Please do this before doing anything else:
Report a pothole or other problem with the roads
Please make a detailed note of the incident including:
The County Council is responsible for the vast majority of roads in Hampshire. These roads are often referred to as "roads maintained at public expense".
The main exception are roads designated as private roads,. These are the responsibility of the road owner, which is usually not the County Council. Private roads are sometimes called unadopted roads (not adopted or owned by the local authority).
Other exceptions to the general rule are Motorways and a small number of Trunk roads - these are the responsibility of the Highways Agency. Military roads are owned by the Ministry of Defence and the County Council is not responsible for them.
You can use our online database to check if a road is maintained at public expense:
Database of roads maintained at public expense
It is important to understand that the County Council as the custodian of the public highway uses taxpayers' money to maintain the road network and cannot immediately and automatically pay for damage caused by driving into a pothole. All public expenditure is subject to scrutiny and we need to demonstrate that taxpayers' money is spent in the right way.
In this context, the County Council investigates all claims and takes legal advice to establish its position on liability as quickly as possible.
When the County Council accepts that it is liable for damage, then it will settle the claim promptly. When the County Council does not consider that it is liable, then we tell the claimant as quickly as possible. A claimant may decide to pursue the claim further, as they are fully entitled to do. When this happens the Council Council will defend the claim in Court.
The County Council aims to complete its investigation for low cost damage claims within 30 days of the receipt of completed claim forms.
The Council as the Highway Authority manages public roads and footways and strives to ensure that they are in good order. There is a statutory duty on the Authority to keep roads maintained under the Highways Act 1980.
The Highways Act 1980 acknowledges that it is not possible to keep the road network entirely free from defects, and that it is unreasonable to expect local authorities to know about all defects and to repair them the moment they appear. Similarly, not all defects are serious enough to represent a danger to to road users.
In recognition of this, local authorities have a legally recognised defence to compensation claims under section 58 of the Highways Act 1980. To be able to rely on the defence, the County Council must have a clear policy setting out its road maintenance regime, and must comply with its own policy and standards.
The maintenance regime includes: -