Speaking at the UK Coach Operators Association (UKCOA) members’ virtual meeting last week, Traffic Commissioner Miles Dorrington reminded members of the need to keep their correspondence and contact details up to date.
Over the years, there have been numerous examples of cases where Operator’s Licences have lapsed, or been revoked, because an operator has changed correspondence address, but has not notified the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) of their new contact details. They have therefore not received, or responded to, correspondence from the OTC – resulting in the termination or revocation of the Operator’s Licence.
The Upper Tribunal case law has repeatedly confirmed that the onus is on the operator to ensure the OTC is informed of their current correspondence details (there is, in any event, a condition on every Operator’s Licence to notify any such changes within 28 days) and the Upper Tribunal has, again, recently confirmed this to be the position in the case of Philip Drake (IN THE UPPER TRIBUNAL (publishing.service.gov.uk)).
In this case, Mr Drake was the holder of a Restricted Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licence. His Operator’s Licence became due for renewal and the OTC wrote to him, informing him of the need to complete a Licence Checklist, demonstrate financial standing and pay the licence continuation fee by the deadline otherwise his Operator’s Licence would terminate.
Mr Drake partially completed the Licence Checklist; however, he did not provide the required information relating to his financial resources. As a result, the OTC wrote to Mr Drake asking him to provide evidence to demonstrate his financial resources. That correspondence went unanswered, as did a subsequent ‘propose to revoke’ letter (see my earlier blog on periods of grace and ‘propose to revoke’ correspondence here: Periods of Grace – The Unintended Consequences - JMW Solicitors) and a third letter advising Mr Drake that his Operator’s Licence had been revoked. Mr Drake appealed the revocation of his Operator’s Licence, maintaining that he had not received some of the letters from the OTC.
In upholding the revocation of Mr Drake’s Operator’s Licence, the Upper Tribunal explained “We are satisfied that the OTC sent all of the … letters to the address it has on record as the appellant’s address for correspondence purposes. We are satisfied that that address must have been given to the OTC by the appellant for correspondence purposes. We are satisfied that the appellant has not subsequently told the OTC that it should no longer use that address … we accept the OTC did what could have been expected of it in sending the letter to the appellant at the correspondence address he had given to it. As we see it, once such an address has been given, it is for the holder of a licence to ensure correspondence relating to the licence and sent by the OTC may be properly received”.
The need for operators to keep their contact details up to date has become all the more important since the introduction of the VOL system, as the OTC now uploads correspondence to an operator’s VOL portal (often instead of sending it by post), which triggers an email notification to the registered users on the account. Operators therefore need to pro-actively monitor and manage their VOL account to ensure the appropriate people have access and the correct correspondence details are registered on the account.
When it comes to correspondence and contact details, operators should ensure that they: