Property owners not liable for ice falls


Property owners who clear snow from footpaths can not be sued if someone falls, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said today.

The Attorney General advised people could not be held liable if they properly clear pavements, Mr Cowen said.

“If a pavement is cleared in a manner which disposes of snow so as not to create any obstacle or hazard, there is no issue of liability,” the Taoiseach said. “So common sense prevails.”

Last January, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said he was considering making people legally obliged to clear snow and ice from footpaths without incurring liability during severe weather.

The Taoiseach said the country had ample stocks of salt, with over 80,000 tonnes in reserve.

The National Roads Authority has obtained another 50,000 tonnes. Mr Cowen said 60,000 tonnes are typically used between November and March each year.

“Of course we’ll advise people to take public transport where possible,” Mr Cowen said. “It’s important that we also look out for neighbours, particularly the elderly and ensure that they’re looked after.”

The Department of Transport said it was not considered necessary to make it mandatory for the public to clear the area in front of their premises.

 “Members of the public and business operators are encouraged to safely clear the area in front of their premises of snow and ice," a spokeswoman said. “The clear legal advice to government on this issue is that you will not be held legally liable as long as you do not create an additional safety hazard by your actions.”