Public Inquiry Advice, Preparation & Representation Service
Are you looking for advice, in relation to being call to Public Inquiry? Here at Oplas Transport Consultancy we are not here to make any kind judgement against any party. We are just interested in giving the best advice, based on the facts of the situation, which has led to call to attend a Public Inquiry. Therefore please take time to read below some basic information on how to deal with a pending Public Inquiry’s & how Oplas Transport Consultancy can help you or your company in this difficult time.
So you have been call to Public Inquiry, you are already thinking about the possible stress & expense, then there is the possible outcome which could lead to the end of you or your company’s ability to hold Operator’s Licence, or repute or fitness in relation to being a transport manager being brought into question. Therefore what do you do? Firstly DO NOT PANIC OR DECIDED TO DO NOTHING, THEN LEAVE IT TO A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE PUBLIC INQUIRY & THEN TAKE ACTION OR DECIDE TO BURY YOU’RE HEAD IN THE SAND, HOPING IT WILL GO AWAY.
This situation needs to be dealt with, & the quicker that is decided the better, this will in turn will increase the chances of a favourable result when attending Public Inquiry. But any decisions or actions taken, must be in a calm & professional manner.
The receiving of call up letter(s) can be a bit of a shock, for a lot of operator licence holders, or transport managers which may cloud there judgement. Therefore keep calm & form an action plan, being prepared & understand the Public Inquiry process & the possible risks are the first steps for either the operator licence holder or the transport manager, in easing the pressure on them. At this point most operator licence holders & transport managers will be coming to the same conclusion, the need for formal professional advice is a priority, the next question after that is, who or what, will that advice be sort from I.E Solicitor or Transport Consultant
Solicitor or Transport Consultant which to use?
Every Public Inquiry has its own set of circumstances surrounding it, therefore how the operator licence holder or transport manager deal with it can be different, but there are some basic principles that can help in coming to the best way forward in relation to the pending Public Inquiry.
A public inquiry in the way it is conducted is in court room like conditions, & by law is considered to be a quasi-judicial body having the powers and procedures resembling those of a court of law. It is obligated to objectively determine facts, & draw conclusions from them, then these conclusions are used, as the basis of any disciplinary action taken against an operator licence holder or transport manager.
Therefore having formal legal representation can only be helpful, for anybody at Public Inquiry trying to navigate through a Public Inquiry, plus having a person with knowledge of the process, & use to working within the correct legal framework, can only be a help to either the operator licence holder or transport manager put their case across to the Traffic Commissioner, when at Public Inquiry. Plus a solicitor has what is known as rights of audience (He/she is considered a Court Officer), having a person of this described nature representing the operator licence holder or transport manager gives a good impression. But there are a few points that either an operator licence holder or transport manager need to remember before giving formal instruction to a solicitor.
- Does the solicitor have experience dealing with legal matters & proceedings in relation to road transport; not just speeding tickets or drink driving charges (which are dealt with by the courts, not Public Inquiry) i.e. has he represented other parties at Public Inquiry
- Cost is also a consideration, the use of formal legal services can be an expensive, and therefore this needs to be a consideration, it may be more cost effective to just to use a solicitor for the Public Inquiry itself only, as an example.
- Can the operator licence holder or transport manager let a transport consultant or other party represent them at public inquiry? A Public Inquiry is like any formal legal process, those call may be represented, but unlike a lot of those legal process, the representation does not have to have “rights of audience” (Have a formal legal training & qualifications) therefore the use of transport consultant as representation at Public Inquiry is an option & would be acceptable to the Traffic Commissioner.
- At a Public Inquiry, showing legal understanding is important either directly or through legal representation. But the Traffic Commissioners will still want to see that the operator licence holder is reputable & adequately funded & that any transport manager is reputable, competent.
A percentage of Public Inquires are in relation to Road Transport Regulation I.E. Vehicle Maintenance, Drivers Hours, these may not be areas that a solicitor, even a transport solicitor may not have experience or practical knowledge of, outside of the pure regulations (The Law). This is where a transport consultant can be very helpful, to either an operator licence holder or transport manager with their understanding of the regulations, also they can help with the Public Inquiry preparation, & give representation at Public Inquiry. Most solicitors would require that the operator licence holder or transport manager do a large amount of the preparation work, which can be very difficult & stressful when trying to maintain a transport operations or a management function at the same time.
Also transport consultants can help recognise problem(s) in the systems of work used, though their knowledge & expertise, therefore helping to put new ones in place & in doing so, help stop the problem(s) from happening in the future, which the Traffic Commissioner will be looking for, from either the operator licence holder or transport manager attending the public inquiry.
Also there is a cost difference when using a transport consultant general leads to a lower cost for the operator licence holder or transport manager attending a public inquiry. But as when considering the use of a solicitor, the use of a transport consultant there are points to be considered, before giving a formal instruction to a transport consultant
- Does the transport consultant have the understanding & experience dealing with legal matters & proceedings in relation to road transport, i.e. has he represented other parties at Public Inquiry
- Cost again is a consideration as previously stated generally the use of a transport consultant is lower than that of a solicitor. But the use of a solicitor at Public Inquiry does have advantages as stated earlier and therefore it may be more cost effective to just to use a transport consultant for the Public Inquiry preparation work only.
- At a Public Inquiry, showing understanding of the requirements of the operator licensing regime is an important element of the public inquiry. By having a transport consultant representing the operator licence holder or transport manager & showing that they are willing to take aboard their advice & recommendations, is important in showing that either the operator licence holder & transport manager are reputable, competent.
Therefore it is clear from all of the above points made that any operator licence holder or transport manager must make sure that it is clear to the Traffic Commissioner of their transport related expertise, knowledge and experience to be compliant with the Operator Licensing Regime, no matter the type representation they have at public inquiry.
How can Oplas Transport Consultancy help with your attendance at Public Inquiry?
Here at Oplas we recognized that both areas legal representation & transport knowledge & expertise have a part to play, in making up the best combination, when helping clients who have been called to attend a Public Inquiry, & it should not be a choice of one or the other. Therefore we have built up our Public Inquiry Service(s), into a complete package, so that those parties can have access to both transport experts & qualified legal representation, to give our clients, the best possible representation for their case when attending Public Inquiry.
Any legal representation forward to our clients is done purely on the fact that Oplas has work with the legal representation before or is aware of the legal representation good reputation, in the area of transport law. There is no referral fees or any other type of payment made to Oplas Transport Consultancy from any of the legal services provided by representation used by our clients, which Oplas Transport Consultancy has recommended.
This guide has been produced to as a basic guide to operator licence holders or transport managers who may or not have been call to attend a Public Inquiry therefore cannot be considered as Legal Advice.
Also Oplas can as well as helping with the public inquiry, we can after a public inquiry also help put the correct systems of work in place & help maintain them. Which will help in trying to avoid further attendance at Public Inquiry in the future by our clients
If you are due to attend Public Inquiry or wish to know more about this service you can contact us either via the contact information shown on this website or you can fill out the enquiry form below: