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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 11125
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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A pot-hole (dden within a shallow looking puddle) damaged

Customer Question

A pot-hole (hidden within a shallow looking puddle) damaged two tyres on my car in Scotland.
While I was stopped, I noticed the road was littered with wheel covers and in the 10 minutes I was there about 15 other cars hit the pot-hole with a crunch. As it was late at night and dark, I called '101' (non-emergency police number) to report it.
I put a claim in with the responsible council 7 months ago. I have been asking them for updates almost weekly since then, but they always said they're busy and to wait longer... Eventually a reply came last week which said: They had a work order to repair that pot-hole 5 days before I hit it, it was due to be repaired within a few weeks, but after I called the police they repaired it the next day.
They said that 5 days from the work order being raised was a reasonable time-frame, and therefore they will not pay for the damages (£200).
Also, the council themselves refuse to discuss the matter with me - they say I can only discuss it with their insurance company (who are the ones that made the final decision).
It was an especially bad pothole and very difficult to see - I feel that it's not acceptable that they knew about it for 5 days before it damaged my car. At the very least they should have set up some cones around it! The fact that they repaired it immediately after the police report shows that they agreed it was especially bad.
I'm not sure what to do next:
1) Should I continue trying to convince the insurance company of my point of view?
2) Should I complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman?
3) Should I make a small claims court claim against them? It's not worth £200 to take time off work for court, so I'm not sure about this.
4) Are my chances so low that I should just give up?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

I am a solicitor in Scotland. I have personal experience of the situation you are in as well as having advised clients over the years. From your narrative it is reasonable to assume that the council were well aware of this defect a lot longer than five days beforehand. You are wasting time talking to them or their insurers. Raise a small claim action for £200. Almost certainly they will pay up as its not worth their while defending it nor bringing their incompetence into a public court. You can get the forms, details of the fees and procedures at

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for that.

Who would I raise the small claims action against? The council or the insurers? The insurers made the decision and the council are taking a "nothing to do with us" stance.

Also is there any point going to the SPSO first? I've heard they're not especially helpful in these cases.

Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

It would be against the council as they are responsible for the road. The ombudsman is not any use in cases like this as whether the council was negligent is a legal issue for the courts. I hope that helps. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.