Vehicle carrying catering kiosks – does it need an operator’s licence?

VOSA have sought a ruling on whether a lorry carrying catering kiosks that were used for serving refreshments fell within the exemption to be a showman’s vehicle and therefore was exempt from the requirement for an operator’s licence and also the requirement to comply with the EU drivers’ hours rules.

An operator’s licence is needed for the use of a goods vehicle for the carriage of goods in connection with any trade or for hire and reward, subject to statutory exemptions. In this case, the operator was pleading that the use of the vehicle fell within the exemption for a showman’s goods vehicle. He used the vehicle for the purpose of his business which was serving refreshments at shows or fairs and he was a member of the Showman’s Guild.

VOSA argued that catering kiosks were not part of the equipment of a show; that there should be a narrow definition of the equipment of a show, which was limited to rides or activities like side shows. The court held that when considering exemptions, the words should be given their ordinary and natural meaning. The judge held that it was not extending the meaning of the words to take the view that refreshment equipment, operated by someone in their capacity as a member of the Showman’s Guild, was to properly be regarded as equipment of the show, as anyone attending at a show would expect it to have refreshment facilities. On the circumstance of this particular case, it was held that the vehicle did not need an operator’s licence.

The case shows that whether or not a vehicle requires an operator’s licence is often not an easy question and seems to be going against the recent trend to tighten up the definitions of what does or does not class as an exemption. If you would like advice as to whether or not your vehicle needs an operator’s licence, please contact me on 01756 790631

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