Non-Appearance at Public Inquiry a No-No

by Pragma Law Driving Transport Law Traffic Commissioners

Ever Wondered What Would Happen If You Failed to Turn up to Your Public Inquiry?

Well, here’s an example…

The East of England Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt, was not in a good mood this month after concluding that a haulier requested a hearing simply in order to delay an inevitable revocation.

For a licensing system that is already underfunded, failing to withdraw a public inquiry request and wasting valuable tribunal time, is never going to get you on to TC Turfitt’s Christmas card list.

But it does make you wonder how many other operators are roguish enough to game the system.

In this case, the Leighton Buzzard operator NCH Logistics failed to turn up at a public inquiry in Cambridge to address its financial standing issues, despite having asked the TC to hold one.

In a written decision, the TC says the operator was warned that this had better not be a device to gain further commercial advantage, but probably with a weary heart and one eye on our very brief time on earth, the PI was agreed and scheduled.

And the operator duly didn’t bother turning up.

A Question of Fairness

“The approach, whereby operators use the proposal to revoke system to request a public inquiry as a means of delaying the inevitable, is to be deprecated,” said Turfitt.

“It has a negative impact on the resources of the office of the traffic commissioner and therefore the ability to regulate.

“The resources of this office are provided through operator licence fees, which responsible operators are entitled to expect will be used to best effect. This is not merely a question of resource, it is a question of fairness.

“If all operators were to behave in this way then the operator licensing system may very well be brought into disrepute.”

The licence was revoked, the repute was lost and serious questions will be asked if the directors make an attempt to return to the industry.

And then no doubt the traffic commissioner went for a lie-down.

The Moral of the Story

Even if the revocation is a foregone conclusion, failing to appear is not a good move. Particularly if you have any aspirations to operate large goods vehicles in the future. Please get in touch if you need further advice.

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