All highway authorities in England have legal duties to ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that you are safe when using roads and footpaths even in conditions of snow or ice.
The legal obligation is contained in Highways Act 1980. Specifically in Section 41(1A) and Section 150. Most highway authorities will have their own Highway Network Management Plan.
This should be drawn up in accordance with the Code of Practice for Highway Maintenance Management (the Code of Practice) and will include the measures that that should taken in winter season weather conditions.
Section 13 of the Code of Practice makes twenty recommendations for the highway authorities. If your highway authority does not comply with the legal duties in place, resulting in a fall on ice or snow, you may be entitled to claim compensation for an injury.
The legal question is what is ‘reasonably practicable’. This can vary depending on the type of road or footpath. Therefore, if you’ve slipped on ice or snow on a road or pavement, it’s important that you seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer.
Once again the common rule is that the more active the road or footpath, the more care should be taken by the highway authority might be expected to ensure it remains safe.
When excess snowfall causes severe conditions, many people chip in to help keep pavements, paths or public spaces around their homes clear of snow. This helps highway authorities focus more on the major public roads and areas.
The Government has released a guide to help people contribute in a neighbourly way by safely clearing snow and ice from the paths, pavements and public spaces. Details of this Snow Code can be downloaded from the Direct Gov website.