At the Public Inquiry it is important to speak clearly when giving evidence as the entire Public Inquiry is recorded.
What usually happens is that the Traffic Commissioner’s Clerk will lead you into the courtroom and ask you to take your seat. Everyone will then wait for the Traffic Commissioner to arrive and when he or she enters the room everyone must stand. The Traffic Commissioner will tell everyone to be seated and the Public Inquiry will begin.
Usually the Clerk will make the introduction and state the matter to be considered. This will then be followed by a statement by the Traffic Commissioner concerning his/her powers and how he intends the Public Inquiry should proceed. The Traffic Commissioner will then invite the Operator’s Legal Representative to raise any preliminary issues or points of law. Often this includes consideration of the Operator’s financial standing but may also include other issues such as clarification of any errors.
The DVSA Representative(s) will then give their evidence usually by reading aloud any report they have prepared. Sometimes there will be a Vehicle Examiner and sometimes there will also be a Traffic Examiner but in some traffic areas it is not usual practice for either to attend. You will be told who is attending ahead of time. Following the reading of the report the Operator or his/her Legal Representative will have the opportunity to cross-examine the Vehicle and Traffic Examiners on their evidence.
If the Public Inquiry is an environmental one, there will not be a Vehicle and Traffic Examiner but instead there will be the opportunity to hear from witnesses or objectors at this stage. Similarly, the Operator or their representative can then question those witnesses or objectors.
The Operator or their Legal Representative will then have their opportunity to put their case forward. The Legal Representative will have discussed beforehand with the Operator the type of questions which they propose to ask the Operator and will assist the Operator by leading them through their evidence. Depending on the structure of the Operator’s business there may be only one witness or several.
The Traffic Commissioner should be addressed as Sir/Ma’am/Madam or by their name
eg. Mr/Mrs …..
Once the Legal Representative has put the necessary questions to the Operator, the Traffic Commissioner will have questions of his/her own.
Obviously the Legal Representative has no control of the questions which the Traffic Commissioner will put to the Operator but will usually have a good idea from their experience of Public Inquiries of the type of questions which will be asked. Therefore the Legal Representative will be able to assist the Operator in preparing to answer the Traffic Commissioner’s questions.
The Traffic Commissioner’s questions can be extremely tough and depending on the Traffic Commissioner concerned their examination of the Operator, may be extremely probing.
Following this the Legal Representative or Operator may get to put forward a closing submission to try and persuade the Traffic Commissioner to keep any regulatory action to a minimum or to grant the licence or variation applied for.
Public Inquiries are open to anybody who wishes to attend. This sometimes includes the Press and may include your own employees and competitors. This is another reason why it is important for the case to be handled sensitively.
If you wish to see this information in PDF please see our Guide to appearing at a Public Inquiry before a Traffic Commisioner
For further information, please contact Operator Licensing Solicitors on 0800 088 6018.