The levels of finance needed for a standard operator’s licence are changing and have been slightly reduced with effect from 1st January 2015. The revised figures are £7000 for the first vehicle and £3900 for each subsequent vehicle. These are the amounts that will be used for applications for a new goods vehicle operator’s licence and if the Traffic Commissioner asks for evidence of financial standing.
A recent case before the Upper Tribunal has emphasised the importance of providing the correct financial information to the Traffic Commissioner. This was a case where a company applied for a standard national goods operator’s licence for 3 vehicles. The application disclosed links with other companies which held operator licences. The initial financial evidence was insufficient and so the applicant was asked to provide further evidence. Further bank statements were sent in but they were not in the name of the company which was applying for the licence. A further reminder was sent that statements needed to be in the name of the applicant, to which a further set of bank statements was submitted but again not in the name of the company applying for the licence. The Traffic Commissioner refused the application and did so without offering the applicant the opportunity for the matter to be determined at a public inquiry. The Traffic Commissioner stated that the applicant had had long enough to supply finances in the applicant company’s name and that there was nothing complicated about that, nor was it subjective, such that he might come to a different conclusion at a public inquiry.
The company appealed to the Upper Tribunal on the grounds that they had never been informed by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner that the bank statements were for the wrong company. The appeal was refused and the Upper Tribunal made some pertinent comments about supplying financial information. Firstly, the Office of the Traffic Commissioner was not under any obligation to advise the applicant that it had provided the wrong information. The reason for this is that with an application, as opposed to a public inquiry, the onus is on the applicant to satisfy the Traffic Commissioner that the statutory requirements for granting a licence are met. Secondly, the operator licensing system is based on trust. Not only trust that operators will comply with the requirements without having to be supervised or told what to do by the Traffic Commissioner or the DVSA but also that they must be able to understand what is required of them and reply promptly and fully to request made of them by the Traffic Commissioner or the DVSA. Thirdly, the Office of the Traffic Commissioner is under no obligation to persist in requesting information after the applicant has had a reasonable opportunity to provide it.
The case shows that due care and attention should be given to submitting an application for a goods vehicle operator’s licence. If you fail to supply the correct information, not only will the application be refused but you will have wasted time and money on a fruitless exercise. With government budgets being put under further strain, it will become more important that in any dealings with the Traffic Commissioner or DVSA, you get it right first time. If you would like any help on submitting an application or any other operator licensing matter, please call me on 01756 790631.