Transport Regulation Unit made an error in decision, Upper Tribunal finds

Ashleigh Wight
October 18, 2016

The Upper Tribunal has found that the Transport Regulation Unit (TRU) made an error when turning down a Northern Irish haulier’s application to change its operating centre.

Earlier this year the TRU refused to allow Anthony Joseph Baxter, who trades as Baxter’s Transport, to move from a site in County Fermanagh to County Tyrone because Baxter’s Transport had not advertised its application within the required timeframe.

However, at an appeal hearing in September, the Upper Tribunal found that the TRU had dealt with and refused the operator’s request under the incorrect legislative procedure. Despite this, the Upper Tribunal refused to grant Baxter’s application because he had not followed the guidance given to him during the application process.

In February, Baxter’s intention to park his vehicle and a trailer at an address in County Tyrone was published in a local newspaper shortly before the application was received by the TRU. The TRU said the advertisement was “unacceptable” and “misleading to residents” and suggested he re-advertise by a date in April.

Another advertisement was published in the newspaper in April, but this was two days after the TRU’s deadline had passed. Baxter also failed to state the proposed site’s full address and the name of the applicant.

Appealing the decision to refuse his application, Baxter said  it was unfair it had been turned down because the advertisement had been published late, and claimed the newspaper “sent the wrong one the first time”.

The TRU admitted before the appeal hearing that it had incorrectly made a decision based on applications for a new O-licence and not for applications to vary an existing one, but said both pieces of legislation offer a period of 21 days either side of the application to advertise the proposals and there was no discretion to extend this.

“Everyone got it wrong,” said judge Kenneth Mullan in the Upper Tribunal’s decision. “To the extent, therefore, that the appellant’s application was dealt with under the incorrect legislative provisions and that he was informed that the application had been refused under the wrong legislative provisions, the decision of the head of the TRU is set aside as being in error.”

The Upper Tribunal issued a decision that had the same effect on Baxter’s application.

Judge Mullan added: “The appellant was given two opportunities to attend to the relevant requirements and failed to do so.”

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