Public Inquiries before Traffic Commissioners
..are called for various reasons. These include:
- For consideration of regulatory action against an existing HGV or PSV Operator’s Licence (The Traffic Commissioner may issue a formal warning, order a curtailment, suspension or revocation of the licence)
- For consideration of an application for an Operators Licence or a variation to an existing licence
- For environmental reasons – usually if there are allegations that conditions attached to a licence have been breached, or if there are objections to an application for a licence or change to an existing licence
We can help with all of the above having represented countless operators at these hearings.
We’re more than happy to have a free no obligation chat with you about your forthcoming hearing before you decide whether to instruct us. Please complete our contact form or give us a call to discuss your matter further.
Remember, your licence could be at risk so it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
When should I get advice?
All operators called to a public inquiry will receive a letter (usually referred to as a ‘call up’ or ‘calling in’ letter) inviting them to attend. It is important that advice is sought at this early stage, even if you intend to represent yourself. A specialist solicitor will be able to advise you in relation to any steps which need to be taken before the hearing and also ensure you have a clear grasp of the issues. This can make a significant difference to your chances of success at the hearing, and will improve your confidence as you will have a far better idea of what to expect.
Do I need representation?
In most cases, it is better to have representation at the hearing rather than to try and deal with it yourself. However, we understand that not everyone wants representation, and therefore we offer a bespoke service depending on your needs. It may be that you simply want a consultation and some advice to prepare you for the hearing. It may be that you want us to help with everything from advice up to full representation, and of course we’re happy to help with that too. We work for you, not the other way around, and we’ll tailor our service to suit you and your budget.
Can the Traffic Commissioner issue a fine?
The Traffic Commissioner cannot issue a fine against HGV operators. Their power extends only to regulatory action against the licence eg. curtailment, suspension, revocation.
Traffic Commissioners can impose financial penalties upon PSV operators if their local bus services are not complying with their published timetables.
Do I need to attend?
Public inquiries are extremely serious matters because of the powers the Traffic Commissioner has. The holder of the licence must attend, so if you’re a sole trader or partnership, those named on the licence should attend. If the holder of the licence is a limited company, at least one of the directors needs to attend. However, if you want the Traffic Commissioner to think that you’re taking the situation seriously, it’s advisable to have as many senior people within the business there as possible, even if they don’t give evidence.
If you have a Standard National or International Licence, then it’s highly likely that your Transport Manager will have received his own separate call up letter requesting his attendance.
How long do public inquiries last?
This is a question which gets asked a lot, but is difficult to answer. They can range from around 20 minutes up to several days depending on the number and nature of the issues. However, on average they usually take between half a day and a day.
Will I need to speak at the hearing?
There are few public inquiries where the licence holder doesn’t need to give evidence. Even if you have legal representation, that will not necessarily absolve you of the need to give evidence. Whilst your solicitor can put forward legal arguments, the Traffic Commissioner is interested in the explanations and also the attitude of the person/people involved in ensuring compliance on a day-to-day basis. However, we can prepare you for the hearing so you have a better understanding of what are likely to be the main issues for the Traffic Commissioner.
What happens at public inquiries?
They are all quite different, although the general format is fairly similar. More information can be found in the Guide to Public Inquiries published by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.