The senior traffic commissioner (STC) has refused an application from a finance company for the return of an impounded HGV after finding that it failed to ensure it wasn’t being operated illegally.
Richard Turfitt said Hitachi Capital (UK) should have acted more promptly after receiving a DVSA pre-impound letter, which put it on notice that one of its assets was being operated by a business it was investigating and therefore it was considered to be an interested party.
A month after Hitachi’s customer service team passed the letter on to its collections team, a four-axle Volvo FM rigid was impounded by the DVSA at Ipswich port. The driver of the HGV, Ionut-Alexandru Covaci, claimed to be working for himself, in the name of ADA Haulage – a company that did not have the appropriate operator’s licence.
However, at a Cambridge public inquiry, Daniel Evans, financial solutions support manager for Hitachi Capital, said it was unaware it was being operated in contravention of the law and that it believed the Volvo was being used by a company called NSD Haulage under a sale and hire purchase back agreement.
Evans admitted that its collections department should have acted promptly to the DVSA letter and this led the STC to conclude there was therefore a high degree of fault on the part of the applicant, despite him accepting it had no relationship with ADA Haulage: “In essence, the applicant had strong grounds to suspect wrongdoing and then failed to act,” he concluded.