All nominated transport managers must now appreciate that if called to a Transport manager Public Inquiry, the Traffic Commissioner (or their Deputy) can and will investigate the role the transport manager has played in connection with any relevant breach of undertaking or non-compliance. Also, a transport manager can now be called to a Transport Manager Public Inquiry. Solely to investigate the role that the transport manager has played in connection with any relevant breach of undertaking or non-compliance. In both cases, there is potential for a transport manager to be disqualified from acting as a nominated transport manager on any future operators licence within the EU. This new power has been used by Traffic Commissioners to take into consideration the repute of a nominated transport manager where said transport manager has had a criminal conviction such as drink driving or a tachograph infringements, or where the transport manager has been made bankrupt under certain circumstances.
Transport Manager Public Inquiry – what to do if you are called?
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 public inquiry).
Talk to the licence holder themselves. This is important, as even if you the only person being called, this will still have an effect on the licence holder. 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 vied by the Traffic Commissioner as your having taken a proactive approach. Remember to document the conversation itself, so that all parties understand their position in relation to the upcoming hearing.
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 and possibly being seen as a whistle blower.
Frequently asked questions about a Transport Manager Public Inquiry
What are the rights of a transport manager at transport manager public inquiry?
What are the transport manager obligations at a transport manager public inquiry?
How should a transport manager handle himself / herself at Public Inquiry?
All the above questions are important and the transport manager needs to have answers, but the most pressing question a transport manager will need to consider is whether he or she requires separate representation from the operator, then the above questions can be look at & answers found before appearing at the Public Inquiry. As with all the above questions, the transport manager now needs to think very carefully about safeguarding and protecting his or her own position, and should use all available tools in doing just that.
Instructing an experienced transport solicitor or transport consultant will help the transport manager in a very difficult and stressful situation. One of the ways in which separate representation can help the transport manager 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 transport manager and the operator licence holder has become strained, and 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.