Charlotte Williams, Litigation Solicitor with AMD Solicitors, offers her top tips to hauliers holding goods vehicle operator’s licences.
For the past 18 months, initially as a Trainee Solicitor, and now as a qualified Solicitor, I have been specialising in regulatory road transport, a fascinating but often complex area of law. Despite your operator’s licence being one of the most valuable assets to your business, it is all too easy for busy hauliers to overlook the undertakings they provided when initially applying for a licence. Having attended and represented operators and transport managers at Public Inquiry, these are some of my top tips to get compliant and stay compliant.
1. Attend an operator licence awareness course – whether you are applying for a licence, have recently obtained a licence or have held a licence for several years, attending an operator licence awareness course is invaluable and I believe essential for any applicant or licence holder. The course is designed to provide you with more information on the undertakings you give when applying for a goods vehicle operator’s licence such as drivers’ hours, planned preventative maintenance, working with your drivers and the OCRS system. With many applicants and new licence holders having limited or no experience of ensuring compliance under the operator licence system, particularly where road transport is not their primary business, attending an awareness course will assist in providing you with the knowledge you need to run a compliant business.
2. You are only as good as your staff – Do your drivers, administrative staff and other employees know their duties and what is expected of them to ensure that you remain a compliant operator? Is your Transport Manager constantly and effectively managing the activities of your licence? Ensure that you have an induction programme and employee policies in place so that everyone knows their daily / weekly / monthly duties. Ensure your employees are kept up to date with training as required. It is also essential to have a clear disciplinary procedure in place. Having all these procedures in place should ensure that any gaps in knowledge are dealt with quickly and appropriately.
3. Do not underestimate a call to Public Inquiry – A call to Public Inquiry, whether your first or third, may result in your licence being curtailed, suspended or revoked which could have a devastating impact on your business. As a Director of a company holding an operator’s licence you could also face disqualification from holding Directorship of a company with an operator’s licence. If you have received a letter calling you to Public Inquiry, you should seek immediate legal advice.
4. It’s never too early to seek legal advice – If you have received an ‘S’ marked prohibition or a series of prohibitions, this is extremely likely to be followed up by a visit from DVSA to check your compliance and systems and a call to Public Inquiry. Don’t wait until you receive the calling up letter. Contact a reputable transport consultant, trade association or your Solicitor as soon as potential compliance issues arise for support, guidance and / or advice to assist you in getting and staying compliant.
If you have been called to a Public Inquiry, require assistance with a licence application or simply require some guidance in respect of compliance and training please contact Charlotte Williams or Philip Brown on 0117 962 1205.