When is a showmans goods vehicle not a showmans goods vehicle?

29th May 2012 Driving Offences

In the recent case of VOSA v Kayes, the Divisional Court upheld the Magistrates' decision that a goods vehicle used by a member of the showman's guild to transport refreshment kiosks to shows and fairs was a "showman's goods vehicle.

The Facts

The Defendant was the subject of a roadside check by VOSA whilst driving a goods vehicle carrying two refreshment kiosks on a trailer. VOSA asked the Defendant whether he had an Operator's Licence and current test certificate; however, the Defendant claimed that he was a member of the showman's guild, the vehicle had been specifically designed for the carriage of the refreshment kiosks, he used the kiosks to serve refreshments at shows and fairs and the vehicle was only used for the purpose of going to such events. On that basis, the Defendant maintained that the vehicle was a "showman's goods vehicle and was therefore exempt from the requirement to hold an Operator's Licence and the requirements to be tested and taxed as a goods vehicle. VOSA took the view that the vehicle was not a "showman's goods vehicle and the Defendant was prosecuted.

The Law

A "showman's goods vehicle is defined as "a showman's vehicle which is: (a) a goods vehicle; and (b) permanently fitted with a living van or some other special type of body or superstructure forming part of the equipment of the show of the person in whose name the vehicle is registered.

The Outcome

The Magistrates' found that the Defendant was "self-evidently a showman, that his vehicle fell within the definition of a "showman's goods vehicle and that the Defendant was therefore entitled to rely on the "showman's goods vehicle exemptions; however, VOSA disagreed and appealed to the Divisional Court by way of a case stated.

The Divisional Court had to consider whether a goods vehicle laden with a catering trailer which was not a permanent fixture, and drawing a two-axle drawbar catering trailer on it, was capable of being a "showman's goods vehicle or was the definition of a "showman's goods vehicle to be interpreted strictly to include only vehicles "permanently fitted with a living van or some other special type of body or superstructure forming part of the equipment of the show.

The Divisional Court held that:

  • it was clear that the Defendant's vehicle was a goods vehicle;
  • any show would be expected to have refreshment facilities and it was clearly an attraction of such events that good refreshment facilities were available;
  • refreshment kiosks such as the Defendant's in his capacity as a showman's guild operator at various sites (provided he only used the vehicle for the purpose of transporting the refreshment kiosks to shows and fairs), fell within the definition of a showman's goods vehicle; and
  • the vehicle could be properly regarded as a vehicle permanently fitted with a special type of body, namely the refreshment kiosks.

The Divisional Court therefore upheld the Magistrates' decision that the Defendant's vehicle was a "showman's goods vehicle and was therefore exempt from the requirement to hold an Operator's Licence and the requirements to be tested and taxed as a goods vehicle.

For passionate and pragmatic assistance, advice and representation in relation to operator licensing, showman's goods vehicles or any other aspect of road transport law, contact the team.

 

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Peter Grogan is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchester in our Business Crime, Regulation & Driving Offences department

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