Danish municipalities steered clear of extra costs for maintenance of roadside ditches
A telephone company claimed damages from Danish Municipality of Hedensted because the municipality had destroyed a telephone cable when cleaning up a roadside ditch. It resulted in a court case entailing potential consequences for all municipalities in the whole of Denmark.
When cleaning up a roadside ditch, the Municipality of Hedensted accidentally destroyed a telephone cable. Hence, the telephone company claimed damages as the company was of the opinion that the municipality should have inquired with the national register about the loca-tion of the cables before commencing any cleaning up.
One of the decisive questions was therefore, whether ditch-cleaning carried out with machines should be determined as excavation works. If the answer was Yes, then the municipal-ity should have inquired with the register before commencing the work. This would change the practice for all Danish municipalities which then would have to use time and resources for obtaining information about the locations of cables along the approx 40,000 km of roadside ditches in Denmark.
Jacob Fenger, partner at Holst, represented the Municipality of Hedensted in the legal pro-ceedings against the telephone company – both before the High Court and subsequently before the Supreme Court. The municipality succeeded before both courts who decided that it was not a case of excavation works, and therefore both the Municipality of Hedensted and all other Danish municipalities could breathe a sigh of relief and continue their current practice.