Confusion leads to loss of operator’s licence

A case involving termination by the Traffic Commissioner of an operator’s licence due to non payment of renewal fees has recently been heard by the Upper Tribunal, where the operator appears to have been misled by the dates specified on the operator’s licence.

Goods vehicle operator licences are subject to 5 yearly renewal. The operator’s licence document stated that the licence was in force from a specified date and that there was a review date (which was stated as 5 years after the “in force” date) “and at 5 yearly intervals thereafter”. This had led operators to believe that their 5 yearly renewal date, by which time the renewal fee must be paid and the anniversary of the grant of the licence are one and the same. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The 1995 Goods Vehicles Fees Regulations state that the continuation fee “must be paid by the end of the month which proceeds the date of expiry of a period of 5 years beginning with the date of issue of the licence or the most recent 5 year anniversary of that date, whichever is the later”. This means that the date by which the fees must be payable, could be up to 30 days prior to the review date. The Tribunal highlighted that the situation was compounded by the fact that the 2011 version of the VOSA Goods Vehicle Licensing Operator’s Guide states “ the continuation fee is payable every five years, so you will have to pay the first payment 5 years after your licence was granted”.

This anomaly has led to some operators having their licences terminated, even though they paid the continuation fee before the review date, in the mistaken belief that this was also the “pay by” date. I would urge all operators to look at the provisions they have made for diarising the payment of their renewal fee and if necessary make adjustments so that the fee is paid on time. Failure to pay the fee on time will mean termination of the licence. Although there is a provision to plead to the Traffic Commissioner that there have been exceptional circumstances, if the Traffic Commissioner decides that this is not the case, then the operator will either have to appeal or submit a new application; both of which could mean being a considerable amount of time without an operator’s licence

For further comment on this, see my interview with Commercial Motor :-

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