The case of Colar (1) and Singh (2) v Highways England serves as a reminder to farmers, landowners and public authorities of the importance of tree maintenance.
The claimants were injured in a collision when a tree fell from the central reservation into their path whilst driving on the A45. The claimants were subsequently successful in their claim for negligence against Highways England, the authority responsible for maintenance of the road where the accident occurred.
In reaching this decision, it was held that Highways England did not have an adequate system in place for the upkeep and maintenance of the trees, nor did they exercise a sufficient amount of monitoring of subcontractors and arboriculturalists that attended to the trees. The frequency of inspections should have also been much greater due to the location and specific attributes of the tree.
This case serves as a reminder to farmers, landowners and public authorities alike of the importance of tree maintenance and the potential issues that can arise from poor practice.
Where the instruction of an arboriculturalist is necessary as part of ongoing tree maintenance, it is important to remember to keep track of the work that is carried out; closely monitoring any works and keeping an accurate record is key.
Documents and records should also evidence a system that properly takes into account individual characteristics and risk profiles of the trees. For farmers, this may include consideration of the location of the trees, particularly if they are situated in close proximity to highways or public rights of way.
Keeping on top of regular maintenance and inspections will aid in preventing safety hazards and will ultimately serve as a long term investment into the longevity and health of the trees.
At Gepp Solicitors we advise on all aspects of Agricultural Law, including matters of concern to rural landowners. If you would like to know more, please contact us on 01245 228138.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.