James has experience defending Operators, Directors, Transport managers and individuals called in to Public Inquiry with the Traffic Commissioner.
James will identify the relevant issues early in the proceedings and, in conjunction with those instructing and the client, find ways to address those issues to neutralise their probative value at the Inquiry. This is likely to include the collating of statements, record/documentary evidence and independent reports. The focus is on, where possible, challenging the reasons for the Inquiry and/or focusing on the outcome stage of the proceedings to ensure any failings result in a proportionate penalty.
Instructing Solicitors can expect timely responses to any request to advise on the
case. They can contact James at any time. opinion, attention to detail and
preparation are key to success before the TC.
James is very familiar with the TC’s Statutory Guidance which include:
- Good Repute and Fitness
- Transport Managers
- Operating Centres, Stable Establishments and Addresses for Service
- Legal Entities (including Insolvency and Regulation 31 & Section 57 Applications)
- Vocational Driver Conduct
- Delegation of Authority (in terms of Staff and Multiple Licence Holders)
- Case Management
- Principles of Decision Making & the Concept of Proportionality
- Format of Decisions (including Publication, Written Reasons and Decisions)
Notable Traffic Commissioners Public Inquiries cases
Hallmark Group Products Ltd - Public Inquiry Held Into Goods Vehicle Operators Licence
Judge – TC Blackmore OBE
Instructed by Gordon Sewell – Williamsons
Location – Leeds
The company was called to a Public Inquiry by TC Blackmore for the following reasons:
- Multiple prohibition notices and fixed penalty notices issued to company drivers.
- Failure to honour undertakings relating to observing the rules on drivers’ hours and tachographs
TC Blackmore took the preliminary view, based on a report by the DVSA, that the company were no longer fit to hold an operator’s licence. The drivers had been found to be driving in excess of their allocated daily hours and had been removing their tachographs shortly before their allocated daily hours.
James’s concern was whether the company was culpable and had acquiesced to their conduct so as to enable them to complete deliveries on time. This would have meant their licence was at risk of revocation. James therefore focused on driver training records, driver disciplinary procedures and what steps, if any, since the DVSA report, had they taken to implement improved procedures.
James prepared a bundle on behalf of the company which addressed each of the concerns held by TC Blackmore.
James was able to demonstrate that the conduct was as a result of ‘rogue’ drivers, rather than systemic failure. James demonstrated adequate disciplinary procedures for drivers at the time of the failings. Finally, James demonstrated that significant steps had been taken since the DVSA visit to improve numerous issues relating to driver breaches. This included improved driver training and computer software which would immediately highlight those drivers who had a. exceeded their hours and b. removed their tachographs.
After cross-examination of the DVSA examiner and submissions to TC Blackmore, based on our documentation, the company were issued with a formal warning and an undertaking to their licence to complete an independent audit of the Operators system. This was something James had offered as an undertaking during submissions.
James was commended by TC Blackmore for the preparation of the material for the hearing and the submissions which had been made.
Poundstretcher Ltd - Public Inquiry Held Into Goods Vehicle Operators Licence
Judge – Deputy Traffic Commissioner
Instructed by Robert Brackup – Chadwick Lawrence
Location – Leeds
Poundstretcher Ltd had a turnover of £400 million. They had been called to a Public Inquiry for breaches of their operator’s licence namely;
- Numerous driver prohibition notices
- Breach of previous undertakings
- Poor maintenance of vehicles
The company were at serious risk of losing their Operator’s Licence based on the fact there had been breaches of previous undertakings. James’s first decision was to instruct the Road Haulage Association to prepare an independent report to try and demonstrate that the company were taking their responsibilities seriously. The report was able to demonstrate that whilst previous systems had been inadequate, they had taken serious steps to addressing those issues and that they were willing to take objective independent advice to fulfil those undertakings.
At the Inquiry James called numerous witnesses on behalf of the company, ranging from the Transport Manager to the Independent Expert. James also called one of the Directors to demonstrate the effect on the business if the fleet was suspended or the licence revoked.
James made submissions on outcome which focused on the curtailment of the fleet for a specified period.
The Deputy TC agreed with my submissions and did agree to curtail the fleet for a period of 28 days. This had a limited effect on the business.
James has represented individual drivers who are either a. applying for a licence or b. at risk of losing their licence. The hearings largely focus on the ‘fit and proper’ person test.