Licence lost for failure to declare bankruptcy

A failure to declare his bankruptcy led to the revocation of Hereford-based Nicholas Maddy’s licence, and a nine-week delay in the grant of a new licence to Jactall, trading as Nick Maddy Coaches.

Nicholas Maddy, trading as Nick Maddy Coaches, of The Neville Arms, Abbeydore, Hereford, with a six-vehicle national licence, and the company, of the same address, which was seeking a new six-vehicle licence, had been called before Traffic Commissioner (TC) Nick Jones at a Birmingham Public Inquiry.

At the outset, the TC said his concern was that Margaret Maddy, the sole director of the company at the time of the application, was 82 years old and was not present due to ill health.

Mr Maddy had been declared bankrupt in 2014. He did not notify that, and that was a criminal offence. His licence was renewed in July 2014, during the bankruptcy.

Mrs Maddy had written to say that she had set up the company to run a small fleet of minicoaches and in the long term pass it on to her grandchildren. Mr Maddy, her son, would act as Transport Manager.

He had no intention of staying in the business, as family circumstances had changed. It was effectively the continuation of a business already established.

Mr Maddy had written to say he wished to transfer his licence to his mother. The wording did not disclose the bankruptcy but appeared to say that the son was leaving the business.

For Mr Maddy and the company, Peter Woodhouse said that there was no ill intent in the way that he had approached matters. He had been ill advised. An application had recently been made for Mr Maddy to become a Director of the company as his bankruptcy was now finished.

Mr Maddy said that his partner had left him and he had become a single parent. Long term, he did not want to hold the licence. There had been no intention of misleading about the bankruptcy. He had taken advice from the receiver, who had said it did not affect his O-Licence.

In reply to the TC he said that the vehicle insurance was being paid by the company and that all payments for the staff, etc., were from the company. He had sold his vehicles to his mother and the business to the company. He was still managing the contracts and the drivers were driving on his behalf.

The TC said that the issue was, who was the operator? The company did not have a licence and it was accepted that licences could not be transferred.

Mr Maddy said that he did not realise he had done anything wrong. It was in no way deliberate. His knowledge needed to improve, and he was going on a refresher course.

Mr Woodhouse said that Mr Maddy’s mistake was in regarding it as a family business rather than as two separate entities. If the local authority school contracts, which were the substance of the business, were lost they were unlikely to get them back.

He maintained that the conduct was not so serious as to lead to the loss of a family business that had been running for generations.

Revoking the existing licence with effect from the start of the half-term holiday for the benefit of the local authority, the TC said he took account of the geographical remoteness of the area. Mr Maddy was an experienced operator and he considered there had been a deliberate and wilful attempt to hide the bankruptcy from him.

He had been minded to refuse the company’s application, which he believed had been made to hide the bankruptcy, but the fact that there was no interim licence provision in the PSV legislation was not helpful.