Traffic Commissioner minded to revoke letters – What you should do if you get one
22nd April, 2020
The Traffic Commissioners are taking a proactive approach to COVID-19 and are coming up with different ways to ensure that any non-compliance, particularly where a risk to road safety has been identified, does not go unnoticed during the pandemic whilst still trying to improve operator safety.
‘Minded to Revoke’ Letters
The Traffic Commissioners are now sending out “minded to revoke” letters to operators where a shortcoming or issue in relation to the operator’s licence has been identified. The minded to revoke letters formally identify these issues, and give the operator two choices:
(1) The operator can opt to respond to the letter by confirming what they are doing to rectify the issue(s) identified by a certain date; or
(2) The operator has the opportunity to request a Public Inquiry in order to provide further evidence as to why the licence should not be revoked. A deadline is also set for this request.
It appears that if a Public Inquiry is requested by the operator, the Traffic Commissioner will put the revocation of the licence on hold. Whereas if unsatisfactory written representations are given in response to the minded to revoke letter, and where no Public Inquiry has been requested, the licence is likely to be revoked without further notice in accordance with the terms of the letter.
It is imperative that, as an operator, you take the following steps:-
• Ensure that the contact details associated to your licence are fully up to date and that emails and post are monitored regularly. This is especially true if you have recently had a visit from the DVSA, one of your vehicles has had an unsatisfactory roadside encounter, been issued with a prohibition or you are expecting any non-compliance to be picked up on.
• If you don’t have an email address attached to your licence, now is the time to get one and add it to you licence through VOL. If you do not manage your licence online then contact OTC Leeds by email to add your email address to your licence: [email protected] giving your operator licence number(s). You should start to do so by creating an account – I can assist you with these steps should you need any help or guidance. This will ensure that you receive correspondence without delay given that response deadlines are set in the minded to revoke letters.
What should you do if you receive a ‘minded to revoke’ letter?
If you receive such a letter, even if you provide a written explanation as requested, I WOULD STRONGLY ADVISE THAT YOU ALSO REQUEST A PUBLIC INQUIRY. This will guard against a revocation if the explanation is found to be inadequate. Again, I can assist you with preparing a suitable letter. If the explanation provided is satisfactory you are then unlikely to be called in, but requesting a hearing is a vital safeguard.
While it is enough to respond to the letter saying that you are unable to deal with the request for written representations and you would like to request a Public Inquiry instead; but you must make this request before the deadline set out in the letter, otherwise your licence may be revoked.
In order to avoid interim intervention by the Traffic Commissioner, you should do everything possible to assure the Traffic Commissioner that you do not pose a risk.
For example, if you are not operating any vehicles during the lockdown you should simply inform the Traffic Commissioner that you are not operating at all at this time due to the social distancing and non-essential travel rules which have been put in place by the Government.
It would be beneficial to inform the Traffic Commissioner that you will carry out a remote compliance audit before you resume operation to ensure that you are operating compliantly. You should provide any other information you are able to show that you are addressing the areas of concern.
The minded to revoke letter will almost certainly question whether you still meet the financial standing requirements. If it does, you should submit 3 months bank statements in the name of the licence holder (where the most recent balance is not more than 2 months old) to demonstrate that you do satisfy the requirements. If you cannot show sufficient funds then you must apply for a period of grace and the Traffic Commissioners have issued guidance about this given the difficult times that are currently being experienced.
Having sufficient financial standing is an essential element for holding an operator’s licence so this aspect is of particular importance. If this is done, the Traffic Commissioner is less likely to take any action against your licence before the Public Inquiry.
Quite what action the Traffic Commissioners can take once a Public Inquiry has been requested is not clear, but as operator licensing is based on trust, it essential to cooperate as fully as possibly if you receive a minded to revoke letter.
The Traffic Commissioners approve remote audits
The Traffic Commissioners have recognised that operators are currently working in unprecedented and challenging times and as such, they have agreed to accept compliance audits carried out remotely. This is only a temporary measure and is designed to improve operator safety whilst still ensuring compliance with public health advice.
The guidance issued by the Traffic Commissioners sets out the minimum standards expected of operators and auditors whilst carrying out audits remotely, including guidance on the quantity of maintenance and driver records to be considered by reference to the total number of vehicles and trailers being operated.
The Traffic Commissioners are encouraging the use of software such as Skype and Microsoft Teams in order for auditors to check documents such as tachograph and maintenance records via screen share. The Traffic Commissioners are also emphasising that auditors should be vigilant and ensure that they carry out the appropriate identification checks against the operator prior to commencing any interview or debrief.
Here at Aaron & Partners LLP it remains business as usual although we are all working from home with just a skeleton staff manning the office.
If I can be of assistance to any haulage or PSV operator with reference to these or other issues please feel free to contact me.
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