Road Haulage Association

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Prepare for new O-licence rules

On 4 December there will be a significant change to the rules regarding operator licencing, with new regulations on admission to the occupation of road transport operator coming into force.

This major development in the industry will be covered in detail at the RHA Roadshows which are running from September to November (see page 9 for details) and members should attend these events to hear how their licences will be affected. We are grateful to transport lawyer Lucy Wood, of Rothera Dowson, who has assisted the RHA in preparing for these events.

The regulations replace the European directive that brought the transport managers’ CPC, rules on financial standing, and the concept of good repute to the UK: the original directive was one of the first pieces of legislation that the UK adopted after joining the Common Market.

As far as professional competence is concerned, the National CPC examination ends and all entrants will sit a combined National and International examination. Existing CPC holders who gained their qualification by examination will retain their certificate but holders of ‘Grandfather Rights’ certificates will have to demonstrate they have either been a transport manager on the same O-licence continuously for 10 years prior to 4 December 2009, or provide signed declarations from previous operators that they have worked for and been a named transport manager during the required 10-year period. Exemptions for holders of certain other professional qualifications will continue.

The new rules for financial standing will require operators to demonstrate that they meet the specified conditions in one of three ways, including annual accounts certified by a properly qualified person. The accounts must follow a specified form and content, including a balance sheet, profit and loss account, and notes on the accounts.

A new business without access to accounts will require a statement by a properly qualified person setting out assets and liabilities or an opening balance also certified by a properly qualified person.

The third type of evidence that will be acceptable is a financial guarantee of some sort, ranging from an overdraft facility to an invoice finance agreement. Please note that the ‘properly qualified person’ will need to include a statement giving personal details and their qualifications.

As far as good repute is concerned, the new regulations allow the Traffic Commissioner (TC) to take direct regulatory action against transport managers who no longer meet the requirement of good repute or professional competence and the TC must declare the transport manager ‘unfit’.

Such a declaration would remain in place until the TC determined good repute or professional competence was restored and the TC would establish what rehabilitation is required for the transport manager to regain his good repute or professional competence.

This could affect companies who use external transport managers because the loss of good repute due to an issue with one company would prevent them from being the transport manager for any others with whom they have a contract.