The prospect of appearing at a Public Inquiry is a daunting one. There are rules and procedures that can be confusing and intimidating and the consequences of attending an Inquiry without specialist advice can be serious.
The purpose of these pages are to provide helpful advice to assist you in appearing before a Traffic Commissioner at an Inquiry. If you need more information you can contact our transport team on 0800 046 3066.
A Public Inquiry is a special type of court hearing conducted by a Traffic Commissioner rather than a Judge or Bench of Magistrates. Public Inquiries are held to determine matters concerning Goods Vehicle or Passenger Service Vehicle Operator Licensing.
The Operator is usually called to attend and, often the business’s Transport Manager (if they have one) will also be called up. Sometimes, drivers may also be called to attend. If you are called, you MUST attend, even if you have legal representation.
There are usually three reasons that Public Inquiries are held :
- To consider an application for a new Operator’s Licence or a variation to an existing Operator’s Licence where there are concerns that the Operator may not satisfy all the statutory requirements to hold a licence;
- To consider an application for a new Operator’s Licence or a variation to an existing Operator’s Licence where there are possible environmental issues;
- To consider any shortcomings of an existing Operator and to determine whether regulatory action is required.
There are 8 Traffic Areas across England, Scotland and Wales and each Traffic Area has its own Traffic Commissioner. In addition, there are several Deputies who also hear cases.
A Public Inquiry is a fairly formal process and if unprepared can be a very uncomfortable experience. It is certainly not something an Operator should take lightly and it is always best to seek legal advice as soon as an Operator receives the calling-up letter informing him of the Public Inquiry.
Traffic Commissioners have many powers including the ability to revoke, suspend or curtail an Operator’s Licence. They can also refuse to grant an application for or variation to an Operator’s Licence. In addition the Traffic Commissioner has the power to disqualify an individual as a Director of a company and to take away good repute/fitness and/or professional competency from an Operator and its Transport Manager if it has one.
For more information see our other pages on Appearing at a Public Inquiry before a Traffic Commissioner
- General information
- Before the Public Inquiry
- At the Public Inquiry
- After the Public Inquiry
- Driver Conduct Hearings
If you wish to see this information in PDF please see our Guide to appearing at a Public Inquiry before a Traffic Commissioner