REPUTE 2 – Other Behaviour which can Damage your Repute (Freight).
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
There are a thousand ways to damage your Good Repute, and Operators are discovering new ones all the time.
We have already looked at what “Good Repute” is, why it matters, and how criminal convictions can undermine an operator’s repute. Don’t be mistaken however – there are many other ways you can lose your Good Repute and put your operator’s licence at risk. Below we look at some of the more common ones:
If you are abusive to the DVSA, the Traffic Commissioner or their staff, you will swiftly find yourself being called to a Public Inquiry to answer for it. This type of behaviour can occur at or during a roadside stop or indeed in the Public Inquiry room itself.
Whatever the perceived provocation it is never worthwhile venting your feelings on either the DVSA or the Traffic Commissioner. This should be made very clear to your drivers – they are, after all, the shopfront of your business.
Deliberate Attempts to Circumvent the Operator Licencing System
Traffic Commissioners are alive to the fact that some people will attempt to operate HGV’s without an operator’s licence. Anyone who is caught “fronting” for another operator, running another operator’s vehicles through their own licence or lending out their discs can very quickly expect to find themselves with their repute shattered.
Dishonesty when Dealing with The Office of The Traffic Commissioner
Attempts to use forged documents to mislead the Office of the Traffic Commissioner will almost inevitably lead to the loss of good repute. If a Traffic Commissioner scents dishonesty, either in the documents before them or in oral submissions, they are entitled to take this into account when considering the repute of the operator.
Traffic Commissioners need operators to be ‘up front’ in disclosing their previous dealings with operators’ licences, especially those businesses that have failed financially. There is no disgrace in having a business fail, but the less scrupulous cannot be allowed to set up “Phoenix Companies” to avoid their debts and gain a commercial advantage over their competitors. Those who try to hide, lie to or mislead the Office of the Traffic Commissioner about their previous connections with a licence can expect their repute to crumble quickly.
Failure to Notify Material Changes
As an operator, you are obliged to notify the Office of the Traffic Commissioner of any material change to the Licence Holder. This includes any changes of director, changes of Transport Manager and changes to the financial standing of the company. You must also report any relevant convictions that any of the directors or employees of the company might acquire. An operator who fails in this responsibility puts their entire licence at risk.
Previous Poor History with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner and other Authorities
The Office of the Traffic Commissioner has a long memory and will take into account any previous revocation, suspension, curtailment or warning of any operator licence you have been involved with in the previous five years.
Traffic Commissioners will also factor-in the imposition of or deliberate non-payment with, Civil Penalties for clandestine entrants, or deliberate failures to comply with the statutory Codes of Practice in the previous five years.
Similarly, breaches of Health and Safety law and convictions for Health and Safety-related offences must be disclosed and will be weighed in the balance.
Tax evasion in the previous five years will also severely damage a potential operator’s good repute. This is particularly so where the evasion involves the Road Transport Industry, for example: Vehicle Excise Duty; fuel tax or any avoidance of tax due to HMRC relating to the operator’s employees.
I Think my Good Repute may be Tarnished – What Should I Do?
The operator’s licensing system is first and foremost based on trust. Any operator or applicant for a licence caught attempting to mislead a Traffic Commissioner will be unlikely to win that trust. If in doubt about your Good Repute then speak to a Road Transport Lawyer before you say (or don’t say) something that might damage your repute further.