Operators are asked to provide financial evidence when they submit an application for an operator’s licence and if they are called to attend a public inquiry hearing before the traffic Commissioner. In both these circumstances, they are asked to provide “original” financial documentation.
With so much banking being done on line and with banks offering financial incentives to sign up for paperless statements, what is the position regarding submitting information to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner?
In a recent case, an operator appealed to the Upper Tribunal when his application for a goods vehicle operator’s licence was refused. The calling in letter made it clear that the applicant was to supply original bank statements. He supplied photocopies and attended at the public inquiry. The Traffic Commissioner noted that he had not been supplied with originals and when he asked whether there were original statements, he was told by the applicant that he had originals in the office but forgot to bring them. The application was refused and the applicant appealed to the Upper Tribunal.
The original statements were produced at the appeal hearing but the Upper Tribunal did not allow them to be taken into consideration, given that there was no good reason why they couldn’t have been produced at the public inquiry. In this particular case the Upper Tribunal decided that the Traffic Commissioner had acted correctly in not allowing time for the originals to be produced, particularly given that the copy statements failed to show sufficient funds.
The calling in letter and guidance notes clearly state that bank statements must be originals. Internet statements need to be endorsed by the relevant bank and the Traffic Commissioner will accept stamped and signed internet statements. However, I am hearing more examples of banks refusing to sign and stamp internet statements. In such circumstances, what should the operator do?
Firstly, I would advise sending in copies of the internet statements by the date stated in the calling in letter, so the Traffic Commissioner’s staff can have the opportunity to assess the statements. They cannot be expected to go through pages and pages of statements on the day. If the bank does refuse to authenticate statements, it would be advisable to ask for a letter from the branch manager, stating the account number and confirming that it is bank policy to refuse to authenticate statements. I would advise the Traffic Commissioner’s office before the public inquiry of the fact that you are having difficulties providing authenticated statements and offer to provide evidence, such as logging on to the on line banking site using a tablet at the inquiry, to show that the figures correspond with the photocopy statements.