CPC Holder: Public Inquiry

CPC Holder: What to do if you are called to Public Inquiry?

CPC Holders unfortunately may be required to attend a Public Inquiry. Therefore, being aware of what actions needed to be taken, if the worst does happen being prepared, can be only a good thing, & like most areas of transport compliance, being prepared is always part of how any CPC Holder works when being the nominated transport manager on an operator licence.

  1. Do not panic! Read your call-up letter so you know the reason why you are being called and whether or not the licence holder is being called to the same public inquiry (or whether it is just a transport manager hearing).
  2. Talk to the operator licence holder, on which you are nominated on. This is important, as even if you the only person being called, this may still have an effect on the operator licence you are nominated on. Even if you feel your relationship with the licence holder is strained you should make the effort to talk (see the comments, below) as this will viewed by the Traffic Commissioner as the transport manager as having taken a proactive approach. Remember to document the conversation itself, so that all parties understand their position in relation to the upcoming hearing.
  3. Should the nominated transport manager consider resigning his or her position if they feel the operator is being uncooperative? This is a difficult question to answer, but if the licence holder continually refuses to operate in a compliant manner – even after the transport manager has highlighted legal shortcomings, the transport manager must seriously consider their resignation from the operator’s licence & the possibility of becoming a whistle blower.

Frequently asked questions

What are the rights of a CPC Holder at a Public Inquiry: The CPC Holder is entitled to give evidence, make submissions, & make representations. The CPC Holder will also have the opportunity to speak, & to ask questions. The Traffic Commissioner will then determine what evidence given by the CPC Holder is relevant for the purposes of the Public Inquiry/proceedings. Anyone giving evidence to the inquiry can expect to be asked questions by the CPC Holder, or by a representative acting on their behalf. The Traffic Commissioner will also put questions to all parties, at the Public Inquiry.

What are the CPC Holder obligations at a Public Inquiry: The CPC Holder evidence is not given under oath, but he/she is required to be honest & truthful when giving their evidence. If it is found that the CPC Holder has not been honest, & truthful they risk their fitness/professional competence, & their good repute to act as a nominated transport manager. Plus, the impact on the weight of the evidence given by the CPC Holder. Furthermore, there is the possibility that giving false evidence at a Public Inquiry by the CPC Holder. The Office of the Traffic Commissioner may consider referring the CPC Holder, to the police and criminal charges could follow.

How should a CPC Holder handle themselves at Public Inquiry: As previously stated any CPC Holder, should be honest about their evidence. Telling the Traffic Commissioner everything they did or did not do, to ensure compliance to the operator licence regime i.e. the actions they took whilst acting as the nominated transport manager cpc holder, when addressing any problems with compliance, along with any refresher training undertaken by the CPC Holder.

All the above questions are important and the CPC Holder needs to have answers, but the most pressing question a CPC Holder will need to consider is whether he or she requires representation when appearing at the Public Inquiry.  

When both the CPC Holder who is acting as the nominated transport manager on an operator licence, & the operator licence holder are called to Public Inquiry. It is not uncommon for both parties to have the same representation, & in a lot of cases the cost of that representation is covered by the operator licence holder.

However, if the relationship between the CPC Holder, & the operator licence holder is strained then the above may not be the case, along with the above questions, the CPC Holder needs to think very carefully about safeguarding and protecting his or her own position, (Their professional competence also known as fitness, & their good repute), & should be looking at using all available tools in doing just that.   

Instructing an experienced transport solicitor or transport consultant will help the CPC Holder in a very difficult and stressful situation. One of the ways in which separate representation can help the CPC Holder is by attending the aforementioned meeting with the operator licence holder in order to discuss the public inquiry. This is especially true if the professional relationship between the CPC Holder and the operator licence holder, who’s licence the CPC Holder is nominated, has become strained, it may actually help to repair the relationship, which in turn may help to restore the compliance of the operator licence before the public inquiry is held. The repute of both parties will be at risk, so it must be ensured that all systems of work are fit for purpose were possible, before attendance at the Public Inquiry.

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This Guide Has Been Produced, as a Basic Definition of the Term CPC Holder, in Relation to the Operator Licence Regime & Therefore Cannot Be Considered as Formal Legal Advice