European court gives ruling on sponsorship and the use of a tachograph.

The European court has given a preliminary ruling on whether there is an obligation to install and use of a tachograph when a vehicle is being used for the non commercial carriage of goods, particularly taking a rally car to circuits.

The case involved a Swedish road safety consultant, who in his leisure time used his own lorry with a trailer to transport his rally car to a fair. The combined weight of the vehicle and trailer combination was more than 3.5 tonnes but didn’t exceed 7.5 tonnes. Article 3(h) of Regulation 561/2006 states that the regulations (to install and use a tachograph and comply with the EU drivers’ hours rules) do not apply to “vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes used for the non commercial carriage of goods”. The court was asked to make an interpretation as to whether “non commercial carriage of goods” covered the carriage of goods such as the rally car by a private individual but where the hobby was financed by sponsorship and whether it made any difference how much was paid by the sponsor.

When coming to a decision the court looked at the reasoning behind the EU drivers’ hours rules which are to improve social conditions for employees, improve working practices and harmonise competition. The court came to the conclusion that to extend the requirement to install and use a tachograph to situations such as this Swedish case, would not be consistent with those objectives. The driver in question was driving for private purposes and as this type of driving occurred relatively infrequently, it would not have a significant effect on road safety. The court added that in the light of their interpretation, the fact that there was no payment made for carriage of the rally car per se and the size of the financial sponsorship contribution, were irrelevant.

The decision is the first interpretation of the term “non commercial” in relation to the obligations to install and use a tachograph and comply with the EU drivers’ hours rules. It may be of help for those who rely upon other exemptions such as those who use vehicles with between 10 and 17 seats used exclusively for the non commercial carriage of passengers and for those who are reliant upon sponsorship. However, as always, each individual case is different and so professional legal advice should be sought.

If you would like advice on interpretation of the application of the EU drivers’ hours rules, please contact me on 01756 790631.

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