Facing a Public Inquiry?
Had an unsatisfactory visit from VOSA? Being called to an Inquiry? The main thing to do is act now!
A recent Public Inquiry, in which I acted for the operator, serves as a reminder to everyone of just how important it is to respond quickly to the possibility of an Inquiry and, if you are 'called in', not to leave it too late in getting proper advice.Whenever an operator appears before a Traffic Commissioner, the TC must look at the operator as he or she appears that day - that is to say the systems and procedures that are in place there and then. If you've had problems in the past, the best thing you can do is to have the issues resolved by the time of the Inquiry. Ideally you should have pre-empted the problems AND dealt with them before VOSA came to visit. This way VOSA can see that the operator is properly managing its systems and therefore this reduces the likelihood of the case being referred for a PI in the first place. If this hasn't happened then the operator should take on-board any advice VOSA offer and implement it without delay. For maintenance related issues, when VOSA carry out an investigation and they deem the outcome 'unsatisfactory', they will issue the operator with a blue form called a 'PG13F'. This will list the areas that VOSA consider to be failing. The operator should look to correct these problems without delay so that when they do appear at the PI, the operator can demonstrate that they are now compliant and, importantly, have the necessary paperwork to demonstrate this.If nothing is done before the Inquiry then the TC may have some difficulty in accepting promises to put things right in the future (operators should remember that similar promises were made when the licence was granted).Leaving it too late to address problem areas or to prepare for the hearing reduces the likelihood of getting what the operator can consider to be a 'satisfactory' result!Andrew WoolfallBackhouse Jones Solicitors