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Meeting your Restricted Operators’ Licence responsibilities

Businesses with a Restricted Goods Vehicle Operators’ Licence need to pay attention to the other reponsibilities linked to it – or risk losing their transportation.

There are lots of elements within a business that seem vital on the surface, but in reality there aren’t many losses that could genuinely cause the whole business to flounder.

If you lose a key member of staff you can recruit. If you lose a customer you can have a sales push.

But if you lost your transportation, what would you do? You may not be able to get materials to jobs, and you may not be able to afford or be allowed to outsource. The ramifications can be huge.

Consider the responsibilities

Given the impact losing this licence could have, businesses with a Restricted Goods Vehicle Operators’ Licence for company HGVs don’t always give the responsibilities linked to it the care and attention they should.

Restricted licences are required for businesses that rely on one or more vehicles above 3.5 tonnes to carry their own goods and materials. It is not appropriate for businesses that carry goods for other people.

“Failure to maintain full compliance can lead to a public inquiry with potentially catastrophic consequences for the business”

According to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, 43,420 restricted licences were in circulation in 2011/12, accounting for more than half of the 84,702 total number of goods vehicle operators’ licences in circulation.

All 93,424 vehicles in the UK currently covered under Restricted Operators’ Licences need to be up to date in terms of their licence compliance requirements, both from a safety and legal perspective.

Ensuring you comply

Failure to maintain full compliance can lead to a public inquiry before the traffic commissioner with potentially catastrophic consequences for the business.

Licences can be revoked or suspended, the number of vehicles authorised to be used under a licence can be reduced or conditions can be imposed. If a business doesn’t have a licence, the vehicles can even be impounded by VOSA.

A Restricted Operators’ Licence specifies various things. If circumstances change, the necessary amendments to the licence must be applied for.

Details and requirements of the licence include:

  • The number of vehicles covered;
  • Where the vehicles will be parked (which needs to be off-road, suitably large, secure and easily accessible);
  • Stipulated maintenance requirements – you must agree how you will maintain the vehicles, either in-house or providing evidence of a maintenance agreement with a garage;
  • Conditions relating to drivers, including that you have arrangements in place to accurately monitor drivers’ hours and to ensure vehicles aren’t overloaded;
  • Whether directors are ‘fit’ to hold a licence;
  • What systems are in place to manage the vehicle or fleet;
  • A level of financial solvency within the company, to ensure it is able to support the vehicles’ maintenance and upkeep.

Effect on the individual

You still need the licence even if you’re renting the vehicle, regardless of the length of time you’re using it for –- even if it’s just a day.

It is important that directors keep on top of this and make sure they are updating their licence details when necessary. Issues with a licence can hit a business hard but it can also have a knock-on effect for an individual.

In 2011/12, 37 goods licence holders were disqualified, and if a director is disqualified from holding a licence it can prevent them from taking a future management role within any business that requires one.

Richard Wadkin is a partner at Shulmans commercial solicitors

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