Truck owner loses appeal for impounded HGV's return

Ashleigh Wight
April 4, 2017

The Upper Tribunal has upheld a deputy traffic commissioner’s decision to deny the release of an impounded truck.

It found North West deputy TC Simon Evans was right to refuse Graeme Robertson’s request for his truck’s return, after it was found he did little to prevent it to continue being used by a revoked operator.

The truck was detained by the DVSA last May after it emerged it was being operated by William Meikle, who traded as MBS Transport. Meikle was last year disqualified from holding an O-licence for three years after Scotland’s TC Joan Aitken found he had loaned O-licence discs to Robertson and his brother in return for free vehicle maintenance.

At a hearing before the deputy TC in June, Robertson said he had been unaware that Meikle had lost his O-licence. He claimed the truck had been leased to Meikle, and Meikle had showed him his O-licence disc at the time the lease was agreed.

When the deputy TC asked why he had not checked the status of Meikle’s O-licence with the DVSA, Office of the Traffic Commissioner or by contacting Meikle directly after he had heard his O-licence was under threat, Robertson claimed he had other business commitments.

Robertson said the lease agreement implied Meikle could use the vehicle so long as he was compliant with the law.

The deputy TC determined that Robertson would have had at least some knowledge that the O-licence had been revoked as his brother, who was also his business partner, had been aware four months before the truck was impounded.

Evans found Robertson’s explanations that he was too busy or had difficulty reading documents had amounted to recklessness, and said there had been a financial incentive to allow Meikle to continue leasing the vehicle.

In his appeal, Robertson said the decision had been improperly influenced by the deputy TC’s dissatisfaction with his relationship with Meikle. He said the decision also failed to give weight to the assertion that Meikle had misled him by not informing him of the O-licence’s revocation.

However, the Upper Tribunal found the deputy TC was entitled to come to his decision based on the evidence presented to him.

Judge Kenneth Mullan said: “Given his knowledge that there was potential for his vehicle to be subject to unlawful operation and his failure, for other reasons, to pursue the proper enquiries is demonstrative of a high degree of fault. His failure cannot be excused by his lack of literacy skills or his unchallenged reliance on the word of the operator.”

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