Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED May 23, 2003

The trial judge had erred in finding that the design of a roundabout and its approaches was a cause of an accident where a motorcyclist ran into the island in the centre of the roundabout.Appeal by the defendant ('DETR') from the decision of HH Judge Bruce Coles QC as to its liability for a road accident. The claimant ('K') was injured when he drove his motorcycle into a roundabout designed and built by the DETR. K was travelling at a safe speed but had failed to stop at the "give way" lines on entering the roundabout. He rode straight into the island at the centre of the roundabout where he collided with three turn left road signs. The trial judge found that the accident was caused by the DETR's negligent design and construction of the roundabout. He assessed K's contributory negligence at 50 per cent.HELD: (1) The trial judge had erred in finding that the cause of the accident was the DETR's failure to design the roundabout so that the traffic entered it at a smaller "entry angle", and in finding that the safety audit material supported his conclusion that the design of the roundabout and its approaches were negligent. (2) The cause of the accident had been K's failure to register the road markings and signs indicating the approaching roundabout or even to register the roundabout island itself. K had ample warning of the existence of the roundabout and knew or ought to have known its location. (3) The nature of K's negligent driving was such that a competent road traffic engineer need not to have taken it into account when designing the roundabout and its approaches. (4) Accordingly, the DETR was not negligent and the trial judge's order was set aside.Appeal allowed.

[2003] EWCA Civ 730