CLAIMS that ‘elf and safety’ rules mean you could be sued if someone slips on the pavement after you have cleared it of snow have been dismissed by Taunton-based lawyers.

Jason Squire, partner at Ashfords LLP, said many householders across Somerset did not clear their pathways or streets during January’s heavy snow for fear of legal action if someone fell and injured themselves.

Somerset County Council has issued advice in response to the snow and ice caused by the recent plunging temperatures.

The council's Winter Maintenance Leaflet 2010/2011 reassures local people that they should not be discouraged from acting as good citizens in clearing snow from pavements.

There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home, or from public spaces.

County Hall has confirmed that people can clear pathways without fear of being sued by anyone who comes a cropper.

Their guidance says: "If you use your common sense and take reasonable care to see that you do not create a new and worse risk – e.g. by pouring boiling water which then freezes - you should have nothing to be afraid of."

Mr Squire said: “People who clear outside their homes are only at risk if they do the job so badly that they create a more dangerous situation than before they started."