Transport Manager: The Legal Position

Collective Responsibility 

A starting point is the understanding that any organization’s nominated transport manager holds a legal responsibility for its transport operation. Under UK law, the role of the nominated transport manager has been considered a pivotal position in an operator licence holder’s management structure for some time now. The regulatory and enforcement bodies are increasingly focusing on an operator licence holder’s internal management structure. This is particularly so in relation to a holder of standard national or international operator licence, & the nominated transport manager / cpc holder.

The Operator’s Licence legislation makes it mandatory for all holders of a standard national or international operator licence to have a suitable qualified person of good repute to act as the nominated transport manager on their operator licence and that this person must have “continuous and effective control and responsibility” for the management of transport operations within the operator licence holder’s business.

But in fact, both the transport manager & the operator licence holder are under a legal requirement to understand the role and responsibilities that a transport manager agrees to undertake when acting as the nominated transport manager on a standard national or international operator licence.

However, a large proportion of licence holders and transport managers remain ignorant of the fact that their role and responsibilities are defined by law. The fact is that the role and responsibilities of the transport manager are regarded by the DVSA and the Office of the Traffic Commissioner as being the collective responsibility of the transport manager and the operator licence holder.

This has caught out a number of operator licence holders, who have mistakenly believed that maintaining compliance is the sole responsibility of their transport manager, i.e. “…that’s what I pay my Transport Manager to do!

Transport Managers: Legal Entities

Unfortunately, as a partial result of the 2011 regulations, an increasing number of nominated transport managers find themselves in a difficult position i.e. what to do when he or she is doing their best to maintain compliance but has run into difficulties with the ‘boss’ (i.e. the operator licence holder) who takes their responsibilities less seriously. Under such circumstances, the transport manager could be placed in a potential conflict of interest with his or her employer. Naturally, transport managers will not wish to undermine their employer, but all transport managers will now need to safeguard and protect their own legal position as a matter of priority.

This situation has been recognized by the former Senior Traffic Commissioner, Mrs. Beverley Bell, who says, “That to be effective, transport managers have to manage upwards, as well as downwards, and not allow operational pressures to take precedence over legality and safety. It was important that transport managers took care to protect their own good repute, even if that meant potentially upsetting their employer. If as a transport manager you are not being taken seriously by your employer then e-mail your directors and set out your concerns. Keep a copy of the email. If you find you don’t know what you are doing then again email your employer with a request to go on a suitable course. And if you are incompetent, go and find another job that suits your skills and competences.”

Transport Managers: Maintaining Compliance

It is plain from the wording of the Senior Traffic Commissioner’s statement, combined with the legislative changes which have been made, that a nominated transport manager should view themselves as being one of two parties legally responsible for the maintenance and compliance on any operator’s licence they are named on. In other words, transport managers must recognize that they are a separate legal entity, responsible for the compliance of the operator’s licence.

The practical effect for all nominated transport managers taking the above stance would be limited, i.e. the day to day work of maintaining compliance would remain the same. However, under certain circumstances, the relationship between nominated transport managers, and the operator licence holder could become more adversarial in nature and might lead to a breakdown in their professional relationship i.e. in a situation where one party is failing to discharge their legal duty, & the possible effect this has on both i.e. attendance at Public Inquiry.

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The above Information Has Been Produced, to Help Promote the Services Offered by Oplas Transport Consultancy. There is Reference to Different Parts of Operator’s Licence Regulation. Those References are for Guidance Only. Therefore, Cannot Be Considered as Formal Legal Advice.