VOSA wish to inspect my vehicles and maintenance records. How should I prepare for this?

Current legislation permits an Inspector from VOSA to visit your premises at anytime and demand sight of vehicles and maintenance records. On occasions your local Vehicle Examiner may give you advance notice of the intended visit, which will allow you time to prepare.

Usually you will be asked to provide a sample of your vehicles for inspections as well as 15 months service and daily defect records.

How should I prepare ?

1. Have a full preventative inspection carried out on the vehicles to avoid any defects being detected which may result in a prohibition at the inspection. The VOSA Inspector may comment on the fact that the vehicles have clearly been "prepared for inspection" as opposed to being presented in their true state, but it is far better to avoid the possibility of prohibitions being attracted
2. Where possible offer your newest vehicles for inspection unless the Inspector specifically asks for your older ones
3. Clean and wash down the vehicles.
4. Scrutinise your maintenance records to ensure they are all in order. Many Operators instruct an outside third party with an expertise in Operator Licensing to carry this out
5. Ensure you have a 15 month run of service sheets, presented well in individual files for each vehicle. Where service sheets are missing see if your garage retained copies and insert copies or at the very least insert an invoice from the garage to show the service was done. Missing sheets can lead to VOSA assuming that the vehicle has not been serviced
6. Ensure you have a forward planning chart in place setting out at least the next service dates as well as mot and calibration dates (ie: other key maintenance dates)
7. Ensure you have a 15 month run of daily defect sheets (one for each day of operation), presented well in individual files for each vehicle
8. Ensure that your defect sheets have a section for " rectification of defects" which should always be signed off following repair. If not order new books.
9. Remember that omissions on service sheets and defects sheets such as no signature, tyre treads or brake tests not recorded are not items which you can go back and fill in at this stage. These are contemporaneous documents and you should always check these immediately after the event (ie after the service) and deal with any omissions at that time.
10. Ensure that all the records are readily available at the time of the Inspection and can be easily found in the Transport Office by the VOSA Inspector
11. Ensure that your transport manager or the individual who deals with the maintenance systems is present at the VOSA inspection
12. Be cooperative

The Inspection will be marked "UNSATISFACTORY" if defects are found on the vehicles or gaps in the service and defect reporting history are reported. These will be viewed as a potential breach of the Operator Licence to keep the vehicles fit and serviceable, to maintain them at specified intervals and to ensure there is s system for daily detection of defects. This finding will be reported to the Traffic Commissioner for disciplinary action quite often at a Public Inquiry.

Practical advice on managing your Operator Licence is provided by Elizabeth Caple, Transport Law Solicitor. elizabeth.caple@blueyonder.co.uk
0117 9075699 0781 441 4374

Justice on the cheap?

The number of paralegals entering the legal profession has doubled in the last decade and is set to rise even further. Recent figures show an increase from 24,509 in 2001 to 51,250 today - a rise of 109%.

In addition, the Regulator of the Institute of Legal Executives is currently consulting on a proposal to grant Extended Rights of Audience to Associate Prosecutors - who are not required to have legal qualifications.

These Rights of Audience, if granted, will mean that such Associate Prosecutors will be able to prosecute all summary-only cases in the Magistrates' Court.

At this stage, there are no plans at present to allow these Prosecutors to prosecute offences that are punishable by imprisonment. However, the very idea of having defendants prosecuted by Associate Prosecutors with no legal qualifications could lead to potential miscarriages of justice; which, as we all know, are expensive to correct.

 

This issue was debated and settled by Parliament when the Criminal Justice & Immigration Actpassed into legislation in 2008; and the powers that Associate Prosecutors can be granted are defined by the legislation. The key issue is the competence of Associate Prosecutors to carry out the work the legislation permits.

Although, in principle, we should welcome any attempts to reduce public expenditure, it is the accumulative effect that this is likely to have. Not only is legal aid less readily available and legal aid rates are continuing to be cut; but this also comes at a time when HM Courts Service is moving to replace legally trained court clerks with unqualified note takers.

Therefore, there is all the more reason for drivers and motorists to engage proper legal representation when it comes to Magistrates' Court Hearings, including trials, which Associate Prosecutors shall be able to handle. If you take out the absence of proper legal representation for a defendant; with the limited legal knowledge of magistrates and court clerks without legal training, and prosecutors without full qualifications, the risk is that justice shall not best be served.

No one doubts that paralegals do a valuable job and that Associate Prosecutors should be able to present 'guilty' pleas in uncomplicated cases - but that is worlds apart from contested trials, where once again the defendant or driver faces the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.


For further information contact Anton Balkitis or Lucy Wood on 0115 9100 600 http://www.keepmeontheroad.co.uk/