BTC/131/2018 - Highway tree inspections; what is the standard of the duty of care?
Only about one in 60 tree failure incidents ever becomes public knowledge as a recorded civil judgment, with the remaining 98% usually being settled behind closed doors. There is emerging evidence that this mechanism is slowing the evolution of tree inspection procedures and training because these secret settlements prevent many of the existing shortcomings ever being revealed. During the past decade (2008–2017), Jeremy Barrell has been involved as an expert in 62 cases (civil, criminal, and inquests) relating to harm arising from tree failures, unique experience that is revealing some uncomfortable trends. This article is an interim report of ongoing research into how UK highway authorities are managing their tree inspection responsibilities, with a full scientific paper anticipated in 2019.