Who is the Operator?

There may be times when working with other contractors, suppliers or agencies means there is a blurring of who is responsible for the actual work.  Unless you are very careful this could get you in trouble with the Traffic Commissioner.

There is no absolute definition of ‘an Operator’ but the Traffic Commissioner will be looking at who owns the vehicles, who insures, maintains and services the vehicles (either in-house or by an external maintenance provider), who employs the drivers and whose operator’s disc is displayed in the vehicles. 

The Traffic Commissioner is only concerned with road safety and competitive advantage and will be concerned if your business arrangements suggest that you are ‘lending’ your operator’s licence to another business where they don’t have one or where they are trying to increase their business. 

It is always a sensible idea to ensure that all your business arrangements are put into a contract to ensure that there is no ambiguity over who is the actual operator.  If you have the operator’s licence then you should be insuring, maintaining and servicing the vehicles that are being used.  If you are hiring those vehicles from another business then the contract should include confirmation that you take on that responsibility.  If you are not employing your own drivers then you should have a contract with the business that is employing them to make it clear that you are effectively using agency drivers.

To avoid getting caught out by the Traffic Commissioner, ensure that you have contracts with all your suppliers, contractors and agencies that spell out exactly who is responsible for what. 

AMD Solicitors in Bristol have a Road Transport and Traffic Law team that can assist if you’d like some more information regarding PMIs and operator licences. To contact our Bristol solicitors, you can call us on 0117 962 1205 or fill in our online contact form.


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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