Revocation without PI quashed

The revocation of the licence held by Pamela Hibberd by TC Richard Turfitt has been quashed by the Upper Tribunal on appeal

The revocation of the five-vehicle international O-Licence held by Harlow-based Pamela Hibberd, trading as P&R Travel and P&R Minibus and Coach, by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Richard Turfitt without a Public Inquiry (PI) after Ms Hibberd had requested one, has been quashed by the Upper Tribunal on appeal.

On 10 February the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) wrote to Ms Hibberd saying that the TC had been informed that she had been operating a limited company, P&R Travel, until that company was dissolved in November 2021, when she reverted to being a sole trader.

The letter said that, in view of that, the TC was considering making a direction to revoke the licence. The TC considered that she no longer satisfied the requirements to be of good repute, good financial standing and professionally competent. She was offered the opportunity to make written representations, to be received by 3 March. She was also given the opportunity to request a PI to offer further evidence as to why the licence should not be revoked – again, by 3 March.

The letter said that if no request for an Inquiry was received by that date, the licence would be revoked.

On 24 February a letter was received from a consultant that said that Ms Hibberd had unfortunately not fully understood the impact of changes of entity upon an O-Licence. An early application was being made for a new PSV O-licence by P&R Minibus and Coach Travel seeking authority for five vehicles, with Ms Hibberd as the nominated Transport Manager.

If the TC made an order of revocation without making any directions in regard to repute and professional competence, they would not request a PI. However, if the TC did intend to consider making those directions it was asked that the letter be treated as a formal request for a PI to enable Ms Hibberd to give evidence and for legal submissions to be made.

The OTC wrote on 24 March saying that the TC had revoked the licence from that date. With regards to the repute and professional competence the TC had determined that Ms Hibberd’s repute was severely tarnished and that would have an impact on the future application submitted in the name of P&R Travel.

Before the Tribunal, Toby Sasse, for Ms Hibberd, argued that the TC had unlawfully exceeded his powers by proceeding to revoke the licence when she had requested a PI. It was procedurally unfair, and therefore unlawful, for the TC to have made the revocation take effect immediately, rather than giving Ms Hibberd a reasonable period, in order to bring the business to an orderly close, before revocation took effect.

Allowing the appeal, the Tribunal said that Ms Hibberd, having received professional advice, was resigned to having her licence revoked, but wished to avoid revocation on grounds of good repute and professional competence.

As Ms Hibberd had requested that a PI be held, the TC exceeded his statutory powers by taking action to revoke the licence without first holding a PI. Depending on all the up-to-date circumstances, the TC might or might not now want to make decisions afresh about the licence.