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Office of the Traffic Commissioner – Operator Licences and Periods of Grace

Traffic Commissioners are aware that businesses can change rapidly and that these might impact on requirements of the operator’s licence.

This could be, for example, long term illness of responsible persons, a transport manager might leave unexpectedly, or your costs might rapidly increase resulting in less available finances to maintain vehicles. In these cases, operators can apply for a Period of Grace in order to allow time to fix the issue.

The Senior Traffic Commissioner has published a short article to help you understand what Periods of Grace are, the process involved to obtain one and why managing key dates is important.

Please take a few minutes to read it through so that you are prepared to apply for a Period of Grace should the need arise.

What are Periods of Grace?

A Period of Grace enables an operator who does not meet one of the mandatory licence requirements to continue operating and allows them time to rectify the issue during the period granted.

A Traffic Commissioner is normally required to revoke a licence that does not meet the requirements, but the Period of Grace effectively puts that decision on hold but will only be granted if a Traffic Commissioner thinks it is appropriate.

Why are Periods of Grace important?

Traffic Commissioners accept that when running a business things do not always go to plan. A transport manager might unexpectedly resign, businesses can experience temporary financial problems or the premises where core business are stored may no longer be accessible.

A Period of Grace enables an operator to continue the business whilst taking steps to address the shortcoming.

When are Periods of Grace used?

Periods of Grace are only available to standard licence holders – both goods and PSV operators – and are used when one of the mandatory requirements are no longer met, namely:

  • Professional competence – met by an individual who holds a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)
  • Financial standing – met by demonstrating access to the required level of finance which depends on the number of vehicles authorised
  • Stable and effective establishment – met by having an established premises in Great Britain where cores business documents are kept and have access to one or more vehicles

It is a condition on the operator’s licence to notify a Traffic Commissioner when there is a material change to the operator’s ability to hold the licence. If this change goes to one of the above-mentioned requirements, then any such notification should be accompanied by and proactively seek a Period of Grace.

How do I obtain a Period of Grace?

A Period of Grace is not granted in all cases. A Traffic Commissioner must be satisfied that there is a real chance that the operator will rectify the shortcoming during the Period of Grace. This is to make sure that the operator does not gain an unfair commercial advantage over other compliant businesses.

When applying for a Period of Grace an operator is accepting that they do not currently meet a mandatory requirement but, rather than putting an end to the licence, they are asking for time to rectify the issue. An operator will need to demonstrate what is being done to rectify the issue within a reasonable timescale and explain how the shortcoming will be covered during the Period of Grace.

For example, where a transport manager has left the business, to obtain a Period of Grace the operator must provide a clear plan for recruiting a new transport manager before the Period of Grace concludes and will require assurances that an operator can manage the transport activities of the business in the absence of a transport manager. In other words that the continued operation of vehicles won’t compromise road safety.

All applications and any requests to extend the period must be submitted in good time so that OTC staff can complete appropriate checks and obtain approval from a Traffic Commissioner. A prospective CPC holder does not become the transport manager unless and until they have been authorised by a Traffic Commissioner.

An application for a Period of Grace should be submitted by email to: [email protected]

What are the Period of Grace time limits?

In almost all cases, the maximum period that can be granted is legally capped at six months. This only increases to a total period of nine months in the case of death or incapacity of the transport manager.

A Traffic Commissioner is unlikely to grant the maximum period at the outset as there is then no contingency to extend the Period of Grace further. Depending on the individual circumstances of a case, a Traffic Commissioner will grant the period they consider appropriate, which will normally allow opportunity for the operator to update a Traffic Commissioner and apply for an extension if required.

Typically, a Traffic Commissioner may grant an initial three-month period which can then be extended up to the maximum six months if necessary. It may be shorter if the operator has yet to submit any paperwork. It remains the operator’s responsibility to apply for an extension before the initial period concludes. Failure to do so may result in revocation if the operator has failed to demonstrate that the requirement is met before the Period of Grace expires.

What happens at the end of a Period of Grace?

Once the maximum period has been granted, a Traffic Commissioner cannot extend it any further under any circumstances. In cases where a Period of Grace expires, due to the date passing without either the requirement being met or an application to extend the period further, a Traffic Commissioner is then required to revoke the operator’s licence.

Evidence that the requirement is met, or an application to extend, submitted at the last minute will not be enough to save the operator’s licence. Operators should ensure there is enough time for the Traffic Commissioner to consider any application.

Additionally, because it is accepted at the outset of granting a Period of Grace that a mandatory licence requirement is no longer met, there is no right to request a Public Inquiry after that time limit has expired.

It is therefore important that operators understand the risk to the licence when requesting a Period of Grace and actively manage dates to make sure that they satisfy a Traffic Commissioner they are now compliant before the time limit expires, otherwise they risk the loss of their operator’s licence.

Author: Transolva Group
Categories: News

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