Christchurch, Dorset operator accepted he would not hold or apply for any O Licence in the future

Tribunal dismisses appeal of Dorset operator who wished to surrender licence due to Deputy Traffic Commissioner finding 

An appeal against the revocation of the one-vehicle licence held by Dorset-based Christchurch Travel, whose sole director Nigel Spencer wished to surrender the licence, has been dismissed by the Upper Tribunal. In doing so, it pointed out that an appeal could only be against a decision, not against a particular finding within it. 

The licence was revoked by Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC) Fiona Harrington following evidence of drivers’ hours abuse, allowing an unauthorised operator to use the licence, a failure to keep proper business and financial records, and an informal Transport Manager arrangement. 

Mr Spencer undertook that he would not, either himself or through any legal entity connected with him, hold or apply for any O-Licence any time in the future. 

The Tribunal said that the appeal was pursued by Mr Spencer notwithstanding the terms of his undertaking, stating that he wished to have the opportunity to surrender the licence rather than it be revoked. How the appeal could assist him in any material way was not altogether clear. 

At the hearing, it became clear that while he would have preferred to surrender the licence than it be revoked, his primary concern was the finding by the DTC that he was “in a relationship with a lady of the same address as him”. This he denied and was evidently concerned that it should have been suggested. However, Mr Spencer did not suggest that the DTC’s decision was “plainly wrong” by reason of the finding he asserted to be erroneous. 

Mr Spencer attended the Public Inquiry (PI) without legal or other representation. No point was taken about the “shared address”. There were other matters in play at the PI. It was unsurprising that he should have been focusing on aspects more obviously relevant to them. Had he taken the point or had the advantage of a representative to do so, it was clear that it would not have been difficult to make out a case contrary to the DTC’s findings on the shared address/relationship point. 

However, the point was not taken, and the DTC had no reason to know that the point was disputed. She was entitled to focus her decision on the matters in issue, which required her to make careful findings from conflicting evidence concerning business transactions entered into by the operator with another company. 

Finally, it was fully open to the DTC to refuse to accept the surrender of a licence where the application to surrender was made when the TC was considering taking action.