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Transport business allowed to continue despite undeclared change of entity from partnership to limited company

Transport business allowed to continue despite undeclared change of entity from partnership to limited company

Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry – January 2021 – Leeds

Rotheras were approached by a transport business which had been called to a virtual Public Inquiry hearing by the Traffic Commissioner. This was a late notice instruction but nevertheless, transport solicitor Chris Powell was able to take the case on an urgent basis. With a matter of hours to prepare, he met with the client, reviewed the evidence, contacted the Traffic Commissioner’s Office, and made arrangements to represent the company the following day at the Public Inquiry hearing.

The background to this matter was slightly complex.  The business had originally started out as a partnership. Sometime later, for commercial reasons, it converted to a limited company. Unfortunately, it had not been realised that a new operating licence should have been applied for in the name of the limited company. As a result, it had continued to trade using the old partnership licence.

These matters came to light in the course of an application to vary the operator’s licence. It was clear that there had been a great deal of confusion over the significance of the change of entity and so the transport company had been called to a Public Inquiry hearing to explain to the Traffic Commissioner what had taken place.

Chris Powell prepared late notice written representations in advance and represented the company at the Public Inquiry as their advocate. He was able to explain the full circumstances of the change of entity and the subsequent actions taken by the business. A number of carefully considered compliance undertakings were also offered. The Traffic Commissioner then took the opportunity to cross-examine the managers of the business.

At the end of the hearing, the Traffic Commissioner decided that, despite the very real problems, it would be possible for the business to be allowed to continue as a limited company. This would however be conditional on a satisfactory compliance audit and further training.

This was a good outcome under challenging circumstances. It demonstrates that even if matters are left very late, instructing a specialist transport lawyer will always pay dividends. Indeed, the Traffic Commissioner complemented the company on seeking professional assistance and representation, albeit quite late in the day.

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