In September 1993, Herefordshire magistrates ordered the council to abide by its duties as highway authority and restore the byways in the Whitchurch and Ganarew area to a fit state of repair.
The council says the magistrates acted beyond their powers by dictating what was and was not necessary for it to comply with its highway duties.
But the magistrates later refused to sanction an appeal to the high court, dismissing the county council's complaints against their ruling as 'frivolous', the court heard.
He formally ordered the magistrates to 'state a case' for the high court's opinion - the standard means of appeal against magistrates' rulings to the high court.
The justices had upheld complaints by Whitchurch and Ganarew Parish Council and ordered the county council to survey the network of eight byways and to make the road surfaces 'suitable and safe' for road users by September last year.
The council were also ordered to repair all potholes deeper than two inches within a month and to 'make good' all the road network's junctions within three months.
Mr Justice Brooke told the court: 'It is quite apparent that the magistrates accept that they should state a case and in my judgement they came to a correct decision.'
The magistrates had failed to sign a consent order to that effect and, in those circumstances, the judge made a formal order.
If matters are not agreed in the meantime, the case will return to the high court for a full appeal by way of case stated.