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Is the Highway Code merely guidance or legally binding?

When discussing cases with clients that have been involved in road traffic accidents whilst hacking, we are regularly asked whether or not the Highway Code is merely guidance or legally binding.

Horse riders, as road users, are subject to the provisions of the Highway Code in the normal way. The failure of a road user to observe the Code does not necessarily mean that they have been negligent. Likewise, the fact that a road user has observed the Code does not mean that they cannot have been negligent. A party may however rely on a failure to observe the Code as “tending to establish or to negative any liability” (s.38(7) of the Road Traffic Act 1988).

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