Hundreds of Kent pothole claims are unsuccessful because of this loophole

Organiser Ingrid Pope [pictured] launched Tunbridge Wells Yard Sale last year after seeing a similar event in the US.

Hundreds of motorists are being denied compensation payments for cars damaged by potholes because of a legal loophole.

Kent County Council is rejecting the claims on the basis of a system that states you cannot be paid if:

  • The council did not know about the hole in the first place and so could not be expected to have repaired it.
  • And secondly, if the council does know about the hole but has scheduled it for repair you also lose out.

This leaves only a small window of opportunity for any drivers to enter a claim.

A council spokesman admitted to the Times this week: ‘Because of the legal defence available [to the county council] the majority of compensation claims are unsuccessful.”

The latest figures, available for a full year (2016/2017, revealed through a Freedom of Information Request, show that a total of 790 motorists claimed for pothole damage. Of these 690 were rejected. The council paid out slightly more than £20,000 to the 100 successful applicants.

So far for the 2017/2018 period there have been 527 claims. Just 24 have up to now been successful.

County Hall said their claims are dealt with in accordance with sections 41 and 58 of the Highways Act 1980.

The spokesman continued: ‘In simple terms, the county council is not liable to pay compensation if it is not aware of the problem nor liable if the problem is programmed to be fixed.

‘We prioritise potholes according to how unsafe they’re making the road. Not all potholes are a priority but we do aim to fix all that are identified as being dangerous.

‘We aim to repair potholes within 28 days, or two hours if it’s an emergency.’

The spokesman clarified that an urgent pothole can take the place of a less pressing repair job on the priority list.

County Hall said their formula for considering pothole risk compares the likelihood of impact against the level of hazard. There are four levels of response priorities.

A spokesman from the RAC said: ‘All councils are using this legislation and our message to drivers is that as soon as they see a pothole, they should report it.’

Sam Jones, Senior Campaigns Officer at national campaign Cycling UK, said that their Kent research has shown the number of successful claims has fallen consistently since 2013.

‘It is quite shocking,’ he told the Times. ‘The big problem is that there is not enough funding for the roads from central government.

‘But that does not mean that county councils should be shirking their responsibilities.’

The number of successful claims for compensation involving potholes in Kent was: 227 in 2013, 198 in 2014, 120 in 2015, 123 in 2016 and 60 in 2017.

Mr Jones added that Cycling UK has launched a website dedicated to help cyclists receive advice on pothole reporting and claiming. This can be found by visiting

To report a pothole, visit

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