The revocation of the O-Licence held by St Joseph’s Executive Travels Gatwick Ltd by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Sarah Bell, for operating without a Transport Manager (TM) without seeking a period of grace, has been upheld by the Upper Tribunal on appeal.
The Tribunal said that the company had been granted a three-vehicle O-Licence in July 2018. The company initially had a TM, known as TM-A. However, on 15 January 2020, TM-A wrote to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) to say that he had resigned his position. He went on to explain that he was doing so with the “full knowledge and agreement of the operator.”
On 21 January 2020, the OTC wrote to the company pointing out that the lack of a TM meant that it now lacked professional competence. The OTC warned of the risk of revocation of the O-Licence, indicating that a period of grace in which to rectify matters might be granted if sought.
It was not a matter of dispute that the company did not respond. The TC decided to revoke the O-Licence. Rather than at that stage lodging an appeal, the Director of the company, Ms Navaluxmy Loganathan, wrote to the OTC to say that the company had now found a new TM, known as TM-B, and that he had been “given a form to fill in and send to you.”
Ms Loganathan asked for the revocation decision to be reconsidered. She also said that, were it to be considered more appropriate, the company could re-employ TM-A instead.
The procedure for adding or replacing a TM involved the operator completing and submitting standard form GV80A along with completed form TM1, which the relevant new TM must sign but which must then be countersigned on behalf of the operator. It was not simply a case of a new TM submitting documentation direct to the OTC without further involvement of the operator. In any event, TM-B did not submit any documentation to the OTC at all.
In the grounds of the appeal, it was stated that TM-A was ready and willing to reassume his duties and it was requested that the O-Licence be reinstated.
Ms Loganathan explained that she had been in the industry for a number of years but had, in recent times, experienced some personal problems that had had a temporary impact on her ability to deal with administrative matters. She had received relevant correspondence sent to her by the OTC.
As to forms, Ms Loganathan had simply given form TM1 to TM-B for completion but had not herself submitted anything to the OTC. She had no criticisms of the OTC. It was she who had been at fault. She asked the Tribunal to find a way to ensure that the company could continue in business.
The fact remained that the company lacked a TM in circumstances where the law required it to have one. There was no request for a period of grace or, indeed, no response at all to the OTC’s correspondence concerning that. Revocation where a TM was required but was not in place was, without a period of grace, mandatory. The Tribunal had no alternative but to dismiss the appeal.