I have recently been involved in the case of an operator who was found to be operating illegally, simply because a vehicle specified on his goods vehicle operator's licence was not in his "lawful possession".
The vehicle was fully compliant in regards to safety, in that it was taxed, tested and undergoing regular six weekly maintenance inspections. Furthermore, the driver was complying with the drivers hours' regulations and he was diligently carrying out walk round checks and reporting any defects he detected and they were rectified and noted, as required.
However, as the vehicle was not registered to the operator he was not, in law, in "lawful possession" of the vehicle. In fact it was registered and owned by someone else. My concern is that, rightly or wrongly, I am not convinced that some operators and transport managers fully understand the serious implications of "helping someone out" by putting a vehicle on their licence.
During presentations of both Transport Manager Refresher and Operator Awareness Courses I have come across a significant minority of operators who do not fully appreciate just what is and what is not permitted when authorised by the Traffic Commissioner to run a fleet of trucks.
How many people read the obligations signed as to be followed on the GV79 application form? Then, how many operators read the notes page that is attached the goods vehicle operators licence, when it is granted?
At Public Inquiry a standard question posed by the Commissioner to operators is "why have you failed to fulfil the obligations you made to me?" followed by "when was the last time you took any type of refresher training?".
The Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 is quite a detailed document and, like it or not, every operator and every nominated transport manager is expected to have a clear working knowledge of its contents.
I suggest every operator gives some time to ensuring they fully understand what they have agreed to comply with by becoming an authorised operator, both to do with safety as well as commercial gain. If not, there are very determined Traffic Commissioners out there who will revoke, curtail or suspend your licence until you are seen to be taking your obligations seriously!