Application forms and Periods of Grace

Last month, the Upper Tribunal published the decision of Croft Travel Lancashire Ltd (t/a Croft Travel).

An abridged summary of the facts of this appeal case from the Traffic Commissioner for the Northwest are as follows:

  • The operator had no Transport Manager (TM) and was granted a period of grace.
  • An application was submitted for two new TMs.
  • However, a few weeks before the period of grace was due to expire, the Transport Managers both withdrew their applications.
  • Another application was submitted for a new transport manager.
  • The operator was advised by the OTC that the new application was incomplete because it failed to include details such as the number of hours the TM would devote to the role.
  • After the period of grace had expired, the operator responded and provided the missing information.
  • However, the licence was revoked.

The full decision can be found be found here.

What did the Upper Tribunal say?

The holder of an operator’s licence is not entitled to assume that a TC will grant a further period of grace after an operator has submitted an application to the Commissioner for approval of a replacement Transport Manager.  It must be requested.

The Operator cannot reasonably assume that a TC would approve its proposed transport manager, when the application form is incomplete.

The TC did not unfairly lead the operator to believe that, once it had submitted its transport manager application, it did not need to request a further period of grace.

The TC did not unfairly revoke the operator’s PSV licence on the ground that it no longer had a transport manager.

What should operators learn from this case?

The outcome of the case has given rise to several key takeaways for operators, including:

  1. The importance of dealing with OTC correspondence within the time limits.
  2. The importance of completing application forms accurately and fully.
  3. To not allow periods of grace to expire without taking appropriate action.
  4. The serious implications of not doing the above properly.
  5. It is still possible to lose your licence, despite being entirely honest and having no maintenance issues and no drivers’ hours issue.
  6. The benefits of seeking professional advice when dealing with all OTC correspondence, as potential sanctions can be catastrophic to your business.
  7. If in doubt, seek expert advice and do not just assume everything will turn out ok.

If you require Transport Law advice or support preparing for Public Inquiries, contact Jared Dunbar now.