Ensuring Compliance with Road Transport Law for Businesses

When it comes to road transport law, few have as much experience as AMD Solicitors’ Philip Brown. A former specialist regulator for the goods and bus & coach industries, Philip was also Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain from 2003-2011.

In this blog, he sets out below some of the basic steps that transport businesses need to take in order to remain compliant with the law.

Operators’ licences

If you use goods vehicles over a certain weight as part of your business, you will probably need to apply for a goods vehicle operator’s licence. This requirement applies if your vehicles have a gross plated weight of over 3.5 tonnes.

Licence types

There are three different types of operator’s licence that apply to goods vehicles.

The three types of licence are described below:

Restricted licence – Allows you to carry your own goods only.

Standard national licence – Allows you to carry your own goods within the UK and internationally, and goods belonging to other people within the UK

Standard international licence – Allows you to carry your own goods, and goods belonging to other people both within the UK and internationally.


Goods vehicle licensing is administered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) who investigate and enforce standards on behalf of the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain. The Traffic Commissioners are the Regulators for the goods and passenger transport industries within Great Britain.

Enforcements Officers of the DVSA are responsible for checking that goods and passenger vehicle operators comply with the terms of their licences. They carry out regular roadside checks on goods and passenger vehicles and they visit operating centres. Police officers may also stop an operator’s vehicles as part of the enforcement process.

Issues that could cause your vehicle to be stopped include:

  • Overloading or insecure loads
  • Roadworthiness – for example tyres, brakes or lighting
  • Breach of drivers’ hours regulations
  • Transportation of dangerous goods

Non-compliance could result in a vehicle being immediately immobilised through the issue of an immediate prohibition, or if less serious, the prohibition may be delayed, giving an operator up to ten days to rectify the issue.

Your licence could be revoked, suspended or curtailed if you are adjudged by the Traffic Commissioner (usually at a form of legal proceedings called a Public Inquiry) to be responsible for:

  • Breaking your licence’s terms or conditions
  • Failing to meet road  safety requirements
  • Being convicted of certain offences
  • Being declared bankrupt or having your company go into liquidation, administration or receivership
  • Keeping your vehicles at an operating centre other than the one listed on the licence
  • Experiencing a DVSA investigation which is unsatisfactory

AMD’s Road Transport Law Team can provide advice on all aspects of operating licensing law and representation at Public Inquiries and in the Magistrates Court for operators, transport managers and drivers. You can email Philip Brown directly or call us on 0117 9733 989.

This article is provided for general information purposes only and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at the date of uploading. This article should not be relied upon as legal advice pertaining to any specific factual situation. Legal decisions should be made only after proper consultation with a legal professional of your choosing.

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