The Section 38 agreement under the Highways Act 1980 is entered into by the council to make a road maintainable at public expense. As an example, this agreement is used when a new housing estate is built with roads for residential, industrial or general purpose traffic. The agreement contains clauses and provisions that have to be met before the council will adopt the road.

Once the road construction is complete and has satisfactorily achieved its provisional maintenance period (usually one year from opening for public use) it is adopted by the local highway authority as a public highway. This means that the local highway authority takes over all future responsibility for the highway works and that it becomes part of the public highway.