In a decision, dated 4 May 2012, Langston’s Group (“Langston’s”), household and office removals specialists based in Wimbledon, has lost its appeal to the Upper Tribunal against the revocation of its Operator’s Licence by Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the South Eastern & Metropolitan Traffic Area, Miles Dorrington
Langston’s was the holder of a Standard National Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licence, granted on 22 December 2010, authorising the use of 4 vehicles, with 2 vehicles in possession. David Drury was Langston’s nominated transport manager; however, in January 2011, the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (“OTC”) wrote to Langston’s, advising it that the Traffic Commissioner had become aware that Mr Drury had resigned as Langston’s nominated transport manager and requesting that Langston’s provide the Traffic Commissioner with details of arrangements already made, or in progress, to nominate a replacement transport manager in order to ensure that it remained professionally competent (a pre-requisite for obtaining, or retaining, any Operator’s Licence).
Langston’s responded by email in February 2011, confirming that it was in the process of appointing a replacement transport manager. In light of this, the OTC wrote to Langston’s on 22 February 2011, confirming that the Traffic Commissioner had determined that Langston’s Operator’s Licence could remain in force until 2 June 2011 without a nominated transport manager; however, this letter warned Langston’s of the Traffic Commissioner’s power to revoke its Operator’s Licence if, upon expiry of this period of grace, Langston’s was unable to satisfy the requirement to be professionally competent.
On 9 August 2011, the OTC wrote to Langston’s confirming that the period of grace granted by the Traffic Commissioner had expired and requesting details of arrangements already made, or in progress, to nominate a replacement transport manager. The OTC also requested that Langston’s submit evidence to demonstrate that it satisfied the requirement to be of the appropriate financial standing (another pre-requisite for obtaining, or retaining, any Operator’s Licence), as Langston’s had been unable to do so with its original application. The deadline for the provision of the information/documentation requested was 23 August 2011.
On 31 October 2011, the OTC wrote to Langston’s, as the OTC had received no response to its letter dated 9 August 2011. Langston’s was given a further opportunity to produce evidence to demonstrate that it satisfied the requirement to be of the appropriate financial standing, which was to be provided by 21 November 2011.
The requested information/documentation was not received by the OTC and, on 29 November 2011, the OTC wrote to Langston’s informing it that its Operator’s Licence had been revoked on the grounds of breach of conditions recorded on its Operator’s Licence, failure to fulfil statements of intent made for the purposes of its Operator’s Licence application and that there had been a material change in its circumstances.
Langston’s appealed against the revocation of its Operator’s Licence, arguing that, following Mr Drury’s resignation, it had struggled to find a suitable replacement transport manager for an authority to operate 4 vehicles; however, a replacement transport manager had now been appointed and was scheduled to start with Langston’s in January 2012.
The Upper Tribunal’s Decision
The Upper Tribunal held that Langston’s lost its professional competence in January 2011 when Mr Drury resigned. Further, Langston’s failed to notify the Traffic Commissioner of both this material change in its circumstances and its loss of professional competence and, despite a period of grace to allow Langston’s to nominate a replacement transport manager, Langston’s did not do so, operated without a nominated transport manager for a period of 10 months and failed to keep the Traffic Commissioner informed. Langston’s then failed to provide evidence to demonstrate that it satisfied the requirement to be of the appropriate financial standing.
On that basis, the Upper Tribunal dismissed Langston’s appeal, upheld the decision of Deputy Traffic Commissioner, Miles Dorrington, to revoke Langston’s Operator’s Licence and confirmed that, if Langston’s wished to operate goods vehicles, it must comply with the regulatory requirements of the operator licensing regime and it would be necessary for Langston’s to apply for a new Operator’s Licence.
What does this mean?
This decision emphasises the need for operators to ensure that:
- they have a nominated transport manager(s) who is able to, and does, exercise continuous and effective management of the operator’s vehicles on a daily basis; and
- they notify any material change in their circumstances (e.g. the resignation of the nominated transport manager) to the OTC.
For pragmatic advice and assistance in relation to the role of a nominated transport manager and how a nominated transport manager is able to satisfy the requirement to exercise continuous and effective management of the operator’s vehicles, or any other aspect of road transport law, contact Laura Hadzik on 0161 828 1849 or 07831 291 538 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org