Operating within the licensing regime can at times seem like an onerous task. This is especially the case for well established operators who may no longer have the systems in place to ensure a compliant operation. It is a common theme that operators are complying, but there is no paper trail or documentation to show this.
The haulage industry comes with its own complexities; the logistics of having a large number of vehicles on the road, making sure contracts are fulfilled and deliveries made on time are just some of the considerations for operators.
It is also common for the operator licence itself to take a back seat to other areas of work undertaken by the company. The licence can seem like a small element of the business, but the most important questions to ask are will the company continue to operate without the benefit of an operator licence? What would the cost to the company be and the impact on the employees if the licence was lost?
If the answers are that the impact would be great, financially and logistically, then it is imperative that the obligations under the licensing regime are fully met and at the forefront of the Directors’ minds. Transport and licensing should be on the agenda for every board meeting and careful consideration given as to how those obligations are being met.
Whether a large company or a sole trader, if a licence is granted, the onus is on the company or individual to ensure the obligations are met. Operators should strive to do this to the highest standards rather than to the minimal requirements.
When making an application for an operators licence; whether a restricted or standard licence, declarations are signed. This not only includes that all the information on the form is true and correct, but also undertakings. Once a representative signs the form they are entering into an agreement and relationship of trust with the Traffic Commissioner that they will comply with those undertakings throughout the life of the licence. A renewal is sent out every 5 years to confirm the information held by the Traffic Commissioner is correct. There is also a reminder of the undertakings and the operator is asked to sign to confirm they are still adhering to them.
All operators should consider whether they are complying with the undertakings and if there are any shortcomings this should be rectified immediately. These undertakings act as a safeguard for members of the public – making sure that vehicles operating on the roads are safe and roadworthy, have been well maintained and drivers are well rested and not tired. But they also protect the operator from any minor issues through to catastrophic accidents. It is about protecting you, your business and your reputation. As an operator you want to avoid regulatory action being taken against you or any criminal prosecution against your company or you personally.
There are questions you should ask yourself and consider about your operation. It is always better to consider these without the pressure of any enforcement investigation. We are seeing more and more multi agency investigations considering all aspects of operation including DVSA, HMRC and HSE.
Are you complying with the undertakings?
There are some basic issues that you should consider:
The holder of a restricted licence must not be unfit and the holder of a standard licence must be of good repute.
Have you notified the Traffic Commissioner of relevant convictions?
Have you notified any relevant changes within 28 days?
Financial standing is an ongoing requirement throughout the life of your licence.
Do you meet the financial standing requirements?
If you were asked to provide details of your financial standing, would you be able to?
Is the required financial standing held by the correct company?
If you are the holder of a standard licence you are required to have a person who is of good repute and professionally competent.
Is your Transport Manager fulfilling their role?
Are they delegating responsibilities appropriately?
Are they managing your drivers efficiently and effectively?
Standard licence operators must have an effective and stable establishment.
Where are your vehicles normally kept?
Is the information held by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner full and correct?
Are the required agreements in place?
It is the legal entity which operates the vehicles which must hold an operator’s licence.
Who is responsible for ensuring the undertakings are complied with?
Do all directors of the company have an active hand in running the operator licence?
Is there a necessity for any cross company agreements? Have these been formally drafted?
Whether an internal or external provider, you are paying to having your vehicles maintained.
Is your maintenance provider using the correct and up to date forms?
Are they completing the forms correctly?
Are they conducting adequate brake testing?
Vocational drivers are professionals who are expected to be of good repute and carry out all aspects of their role proficiently and diligently.
Are all drivers carrying out an effective walk around check?
Are all drivers aware of their obligations under the drivers’ hours rule?
Is there a clear disciplinary procedure in place that all drivers are aware of and an up to date driver’s handbook available?
If you have any concerns about these requirements or your business or would like us to carry out a business “health check” then please contact our Transport team for guidance and assistance at either our Milton Keynes office 01908 202150 or Cambridge office 01223 411421. Alternatively, contact directly by email:
Our Commercial team are able to provide you advice in relation to legal entities and cross company agreements. You can contact a member of the team at our Milton Keynes Office 01908 202150 or email directly:
If you have any issues with employees please contact a member of our Employment team at either our Milton Keynes office 01908 202150 or Cambridge office 01223 411421 or email directly:
Our Litigation team can be contacted at either our Milton Keynes office 01908 202150 or Cambridge office 01223 411421 or email directly:
Making sure you are compliant now could save your business in the future.