Public Inquiry Advice, Preparation & Representation Solutions

Public Inquiry Preparation: Introduction

So, whether you are an Operators’ Licence Holder, Certificate of Professional Competence Holder working as a Transport Manager. Reading the previous pages should have given you a good indication that a plan for your attendance at Public Inquiry needs to be put together. For preparing & getting through the Public Inquiry process & achieving the best possible outcome. Along with making sure that attendance at Public Inquiry is a once in a lifetime experience.

The Public Inquiry process is a formal judicial process, and those appearing faced being questioned by a Traffic Commissioner. The questions asked will be forensic & direct; hence, if an Operators’ Licence Holder or CPC Holder who is/has acted as the nominated Transport Manager are unprepared for such questioning. Then the Public Inquiry process can be a very uncomfortable experience.

A Public Inquiry is not something to be taken lightly. Through the Public Inquiry procedure, the Traffic Commissioner can refuse an Operator’s Licence application. Curtail suspended & even revoked a valid Operator’s Licence and disqualified a party from holding an Operators Licence for an indefinite period. (This is associated with the party being considered as not having “good repute.”

For CPC Holders acting as the nominated Transport Manager on an Operator’s Licence. The Traffic Commissioner has the power to take away their “Professional Competence”, along with their “Good Repute” Which has the effect of stopping them from being a nominated Transport Manager & making it very hard for them to be involved in the transport industry, were an Operator’s Licence is required

Therefore, many Operator Licence Holders & Certificate of Professional Competence Holders, for good reason. Look at Public Inquiries as something where ever possible, to try & avoid. By keeping compliant with the Operator Licensing Regulations.

Public Inquiry Preparation: Have a Plan of Action

If called to Public Inquiry, it is always best to have a plan & be as prepared as possible. By the engaging of professional help, for advice, preparation, & representation. Is the keystone of any strategy for attending Public Inquiry, should be built on. 

After receiving a “call-up” letter informing them, they must attend Public Inquiry. The Operators’ Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager. They will only have a limited time by which to be prepared for their attendance at Public Inquiry. In some cases, the “call-up” letter gives the party being called to Public Inquiry only fourteen days’ notice. So, the quicker the action of seeking advice, preparation & representation is carried out. The better the chances of a favourable outcome for the Operator’s Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager. When they are attending a Public Inquiry  

Firstly, keep calm if it helps write down the steps you think need to be taken. What you must not do is decided to do nothing, then leave it to a few days before the public Inquiry & then take action, or chose to bury their head in the sand, hoping it will go away.

This situation needs to be dealt with, & the quicker, the better & 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. Have a plan, & act on it, in good time, & order.

Being called to a Public Inquiry & questioned by a Traffic Commissioner, under Public Inquiry conditions. As previously stated is no joking matter. In many cases, it can be a frightening experience for those appearing, such as the Operators Licence Holder or a Transport Manager.

Please find below a guide to making a plan of action for any party called to Public Inquiry. In regards to preparation for an appearance at Public Inquiry.

Public Inquiry Preparation: Don’t Waste Time Use It Wisely

Those required to attend Public Inquiry will have no more than Twenty-Eight days to prepare in most cases. In some cases, only Fourteen days to prepare. From the date, they received a “Call Up Letter” to the Public Inquiry & appearing in front of the Traffic Commissioner. Some may seem like having plenty of time to prepare, but the time will soon fly by if not used wisely. So, it is essential not to waste a single day of that preparation time.

Many of the procedures for a Public Inquiry are like those of a regular court. A Public Inquiry is a legal process, which includes an adjournment process. Unfortunately, many Operator Licence Holders & CPC Holders acting as a nominated Transport Manager. Believe that they can use the adjournment process to gain extra time to prepare or delay the process for as long as possible; this is a mistake.   

Unlike a regular court, the Traffic Commissioner does not grant adjournments as frequently as the traditional courts. A Public Inquiry is only adjourned if there are very exceptional circumstances. Even if the parties called to Public Inquiry do have a good reason, the Traffic Commissioner will not just take the “word” of the parties called Public Inquiry.

They will be expected to support their request for an adjournment, with independent & strong evidence for their request for a new date for the Public Inquiry to be held. Please see below typical examples of reasons submitted to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner for adjournment of a Public Inquiry. Along with what the Traffic Commissioner will be looking for, in evidence to support such a request.

Example of a Public Inquiry Adjournment Request Due to a Pre-Booked Holiday

If an Operators Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as a Transport Manager was to have already booked a holiday & the Public Inquiry was to be held. When the fore-mentioned parties were due to be away on holiday, the Traffic Commissioner may grant an adjournment but would be asking & expecting evidence to show.

That the holiday was booked before the date of the “call-up” letter was sent to the party, required to attend Public Inquiry, & it is not uncommon for the Traffic Commissioner to request proof of payment, including evidence showing the date payment was made. If the payment is not for the total amount due for the holiday, but only a deposit. Then proof may be requested to show it is non-returnable and the booking confirmation as mentioned. Even with such evidence, it is still at the Traffic Commissioner’s discretion to grant an adjournment of the Public Inquiry.

Example of a Public Inquiry Adjournment Request on Medical Grounds

A further example would be requesting an adjournment on medical grounds. The first thing to note is that requests made for an adjournment on medical grounds. The Traffic Commissioner is under no obligation to accept either a letter from a medical professional or a certified medical certificate & therefore grant an adjournment of a Public Inquiry automatically. 

Requests for adjournment of a Public Inquiry on medical grounds must be supported by strong & suitable medical evidence. Stating the reason(s) why a person such as an Operators’ Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager cannot attend a Public Inquiry.

However, the Traffic Commissioner does have a statutory obligation to consider a certified medical certificate. But they are allowed to use their discretion to disregard such a certificate, under such circumstance where the certified medical certificate states reasons for the party unable to attend as;

  • The certified medical certificate states that the party is unfit to work (instead of unfit to attend a Public Inquiry). Then the Traffic Commissioner may consider the party still fit to attend the Public Inquiry
  • The certified medical certificate states the nature of the ailment, such as a broken bone in the hand or arm. Which the Traffic Commissioner may consider as not preventing attendance at the Public Inquiry
  • The certified medical certificate states the party is certified as suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. & there is no indication within the certified medical certificate. Of when the party may recover within a realistic timetable. Then the Traffic Commissioner may consider the party still fit to attend the Public Inquiry


Public Inquiry Preparation: Adjournment Requests Summary

If you feel you need an adjournment or have suitable grounds for one, ask or seek professional advice (Please see below) to see if it is worth the effort &, more importantly, the time seeking one from the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.

Finally, all those called to Public Inquiry need to remember. If they do not attend the Public Inquiry as requested by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. The Operators Licence they hold could be revoked, or their Operator Licence application refused. If they are a Certificate of Professional Competence Holder, acting as a nominated Transport Manager. They could lose both their “Professional Competence” & both parties mentioned could also lose their “Good Repute.”

Public Inquiry Preparation: Get Professional Help Before Attending Public Inquiry

As previously mentioned, a Public Inquiry is a legal process very similar to a Court Hearing. Operator Licence Holders & Transport Manager CPC Holders called to Public Inquiry will receive a large set of documents in advance of the Public Inquiry, via Royal Mail Recorded or Special Delivery; often referred to as “The Brief”

The “Brief” will set out the case made against the Operators Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC Holder, which will be made up of the allegations against either the Operator Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC Holder, along with the evidence to support the allegations made. These allegations are what the Operators Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC Holder will be expected to respond to when appearing at the Public Inquiry.

Operators’ Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC Holder will have the opportunity at the Public Inquiry to cross-examine any party as part of the process when challenging the allegations against them & the supporting evidence. But both the Operator’s Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC Holder need to bear in mind that they & their evidence will be cross-examined.

When cross-examined takes place, the Traffic Commissioner will do it. The Traffic Commissioner will question the Operator Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC Holder directly about the allegations & they will be expected to answer those questions directly & honestly

In most cases, after reading the “Brief” & the thought of being cross-examined by a Traffic Commissioner in a Public Inquiry setting. It should be no shock to most people that many Operator Licence Holders & CPC Holders acting as nominated Transport Manager, decide that the best course of action is to find & instruct professional help. Giving them access to that professional advice & support with the required preparation work and professional representation. Concerning their upcoming attendance at Public Inquiry.

An excellent example of how important it is to engage professional help, as either an Operator Licence or CPC Holder acting as a nominated Transport Manager called to Public Inquiry. Is in the area of evidence & how it is gathered, collating & presenting as part of submissions to defend parties attending a Public Inquiry.

The ultimate decision on how evidence concerning them is presented at Public Inquiry is theirs. But such decisions must be considered in a careful & professional manner, which requires a professional level of understanding & experience of the Public Inquiry process. So having advice only makes sense.

Such professional advice/judgment is sometimes not to use evidence obtained initially to be part of any submissions. Such evidence may not help in defending. The Operator Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager called to Public Inquiry.

The opposite can also be true in regards to evidence use for submissions. There could be good reasons to use specific evidence obtained for submissions when it may appear, not to help the defence when first looked at & considered. But as part of an overall strategy, the evidence should be used as part of its submissions.

Such judgement calls have to be made by either the Operator Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager, called to Public Inquiry. So, suppose they are being advised & represented by professionals with the knowledge & experience of the Public Inquiry process. In that case, it can only give the Operator Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager a degree of confidence in an already stressful situation.  

Public Inquiry Preparation: Get Professional Help Before Attending Public Inquiry Summary     

When it comes to the Business of having to attend a Public Inquiry, were those connected, i.e. the Operator Licence Holder business or Transport Manager CPC Holder livelihood, are possible at stake. Then getting professional help as early as possible is plan common sense. Plus, it could make all difference in a Public Inquiry result from receiving a warning to facing a consequence(s) of a revocation decision.

Public Inquiry Preparation: Types of Evidence Used for Public Inquiry Submissions

Operator Licence Holders & CPC Holders acting as the nominated Transport Manager, called to Public Inquiry as previously stated, will receive a document(s) from the Traffic Commissioner. Stating when the Public Inquiry is to be held & the venue. Plus, detailing the allegations being made against them & therefore the reason for the Public Inquiry. This document(s) is commonly referred to as the “Brief.”

Although all the “Brief” information is important, the allegations against the party call, such as Operator Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager, is the critical information & needs to be understood completely. It is essential to understand this part of the Public Inquiry “Brief” as this information will be the basis for any defence used by those called to Public Inquiry.

A further critical part of the “Brief” will be if there is a request for specific documentation made by the Traffic Commissioner & which they will most likely examine & ask questions on at the Public Inquiry. This is known as stress testing, the compliance system of work, or is being used to maintain compliance with the Operator Licensing Regime.

That the Operator Licence Holder & CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager are equally responsible for.

The type & number of documents requested is different with each Public Inquiry & in some cases, there may not even be a request for documents as such, other than those required for financial standing or corporate governance. It is then for the parties called to bring documents that they feel are relevant. Concerning the reasons they have been called to Public Inquiry, as referred to in the “call up” letter & “Brief.”

After reading the above, it should be apparent to those reading, gathering, collating & presenting evidence & how that evidence is presented at Public Inquiry. Are the building blocks used to make up submissions for any defence of either an Operator’s Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager, called to Public Inquiry?

The type of evidence required & eventually used for defence submissions is wide-ranging as every Public Inquiry has its elements. But the basic principle used is; Whether the evidence obtained is relevant to the case & help in the defence against the allegations made against either the Operator Licence Holder & Transport Manager CPC Holder called to Public Inquiry.

Please see below a list of typical documentation used commonly either requested by the Traffic Commissioner’s Office. To be submitted to them before the Public Inquiry, or must be available for examination on the Public Inquiry day. Or they are used as part of submissions for defence by those parties called to Public Inquiry. 

Example of Documents Which Can Be Requested & Used for Defence Submissions at Public Inquiry.

  • Typical between 6-15 months of preventative maintenance inspections (PMI’s) records. For each of the vehicles operated under the authority of the Operators’ Licence
  • 3-15 months driver daily vehicle checks & defect reports. For each of the vehicles used under the authority of the operator’s licence
  • Vehicle Maintenance Records: Examples of which would be tyre & wheel records, or loler maintenance & inspection records
  • A Vehicle Maintenance Planner; Showing at least the previous & next six months; required scheduled vehicle maintenance
  • Vehicle Maintenance Contract(s): such a contract is required under the operator licensing regulations. If the vehicle maintenance is carried out by an outside contractor(s)
  • Vehicle Records & Certificates: Examples of which would be V5c (if vehicle owned & not leased), current mot & tachograph calibration certificates, loler inspection certificates.
  • Confirmation that the operator licence holders vehicle/fleet insurance
  • Evidence of a system of work for checking for driver hours & tachograph infringements. Along with evidence to show that those infringements are investigated & the driver informed. Along with a record of action(s) taken by the Operator Licence Holder against the driver for those infringements.
  • Driver Records: Examples of evidence showing that driver licence checks are being carried out regularly.
  • Employment Records: Example of which would be a contract of employment & driver training records
  • Written Instructions to Drivers: An example of which would be driver declarations, indicating that the Operator Licence Holder has made the driver aware of their obligations whilst operating a vehicle. Under the authority of an Operators Licence.
  • Training Certificates: As well as any Driver Training carried out by the Operator Licence Holder, like the Driver’s CPC Qualification. Such certification as the nominated Transport Manager’s Certificate of Professional Competence. Plus, has the Operator’s Licence Holder had training such as Operator Licence Awareness Training (OLAT)?
  • Membership Certificates: Examples of which would be if the Operator Licence Holder is a member of RHA or FTA. Along with the Transport Manager being possible a member of such organizations, as the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport.
  • Required Business Insurance: Examples of which would be Public Liability or Employer’s Insurance
  • Company or Partnership Documentation: If the Operator’s Licence is held by a limited company or a partnership & has been called to Public Inquiry. Then the Office of Traffic Commissioner may request that documentation relating to the limited company, such as the certificate of incorporation. In the case of partnerships, a partnership agreement to be available. So that it may be checked before or at the Public Inquiry    
  • Bank Statements: Bank Statements are generally used to establish that the Operator Licence Holder. Has the required level of Financial Standing to hold an Operator’s Licence. As per the Operator Licensing Regulations. Please see; Demonstrating Financial Standing Section of the website for more information on the Financial Standing & the Public Inquiry process.


Further use of Financial Records is in invoicing & especially those invoices connected with vehicle maintenance. These invoices used in conjunction with records such as vehicle PMI’s make for solid evidence showing that the vehicles being operated under the Operator’s Licence authority. Are receiving the required maintenance to keep them to the required level of roadworthiness, as per the Operator Licensing Regulations.  

  • Expert Reports (Compliance Audit): In some cases, it may pay for an Independent Compliance Audit to be done on the Operator’s Licence before the Public Inquiry. To show that there has been an improvement in the level of compliance. An example of this would be when there has been a compliance audit carried out by the Driver & Vehicle Standard Agency (DVSA). Indicating there to be failings in compliance by the Operator Licence Holder & failings by a nominated Transport Manager CPC Holder to ensure compliance is maintained.


It may have been some time from when the DVSA compliance audit took place when the Public Inquiry is due to take place. Therefore, it is essential to show that the Operator’s Licence Holder & nominated Transport Manager CPC Holder. They both show that they have taken action to improve compliance when attending Public Inquiry.

This is best done using an Independent Operator Licence Compliance Audit being carried out before the Public Inquiry occurs. The results are then used as part of the party’s submissions, called to Public Inquiry.

Oplas Transport Consultancy offers an Independent Operator Licence Compliance Audit Service. If you are interested in using this service, then please follow the highlighted link shown.

Public Inquiry Preparation: Types of Evidence Used for Public Inquiry Submissions Summary

The above is only an example of what is required when preparing for a Public Inquiry. Every Public Inquiry has its own individual requirements. After reading the above & you are looking for help with attendance at Public Inquiry & may feel that you will have trouble with either the documentation mentioned above or demonstrate the required work systems for maintaining compliance are in place.

Please do not panic; Oplas Transport Consultancy has many years of experience in gathering, collating & presenting evidence for Public Inquiry for its clients, along with putting in place the required systems of work for compliance. Once engaged, we will carry out a quick audit of the current work systems and check what documentation is available for the Public Inquiry.

Oplas Transport Consultancy will then meet with its client & advise on what work needs to be carried out. To get the systems of work are up to speed & what documentation will be required for when the Public Inquiry is due. Giving its client is in the best possible position to attend the Public Inquiry.

Please Note:

It is essential to understand that the Traffic Commissioner will be aware of the reasons which have led to the Operators Licence Holder or being called to Public Inquiry. The Traffic Commissioner will consider those reasons as part of their decision. But the primary evidence used by the Traffic Commissioner in determining their decision will be the evidence that is presented on the day of the Public Inquiry.

Therefore, if the Operator Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC Holder takes action to put in systems of work to ensuring compliance with the Operator Licensing Regulations & is ongoing. Along with those systems of work being in place. Between the notification of a Public Inquiry Hearing & the date of the Public Inquiry taking place.

Then this corrective action was taken by the Operators’ Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager. In having addressed the areas of none compliance & that those actions can be shown to be working. The Traffic Commissioner will treat such actions positively & go a long way in getting the best possible outcome at the Public Inquiry. For the Operator Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager attending.

Public Inquiry Preparation: The Demonstrate of Financial Standing

An Operators’ Licence Holder must demonstrate that they can meet the required Financial Standing requirements, as set out in the Operator Licensing Regulations. It is a critical part of the Public Inquiry process.

All Operator Licence Holders must demonstrate they have enough finance available at all times & not just when attending Public Inquiry to cover the costs incurred when running a compliant business, which is operating vehicles under the authority of an Operator’s Licence.

The Operator Licensing Regulations are very clear on this subject, especially when Financial Standing needs to be demonstrated concerning a Public Inquiry. Please see the statement below taken from the Operator Licensing Regulations.

“Traffic Commissioners must revoke a standard licence if it appears that the licence holder no longer satisfies the requirement to be of appropriate financial standing.”

So, it can be seen that the ability of the Operator Licence Holder to demonstrate Financial Standing plays a critical role. In determining the result of a Public Inquiry. Even if an Operator Licence Holder can show that they are compliant in all other areas of the Operator Licensing Regulation, they can still have the Operator’s Licence they hold revoked. On the grounds of failing to demonstrate Financial Standing.

In most cases, the Traffic Commissioner’s Office will request that the Operator Licence Holder’s evidence is to use for demonstrating Financial Standing. It is submitted before the Public Inquiry date, although it may be submitted on the day of the Public Inquiry. It is best to submit Financial Standing evidence on the date, as requested by the Traffic Commissioner’s Office.

So, as an Operator’s Licence Holder & called to Public Inquiry, you find yourself having trouble demonstrating financial standing. The Operators Licence Holder will have to accept that the Operators’ Licence they hold will be revoked.

The Operator Licensing Regulations & accompanying statutory guidance on the subject of Financial Standing are detailed & complicated. Oplas Transport Consultancy, as part of its Public Inquiry service, will advise its clients about their options concerning the demonstrating of Financial Standing. As part of the preparation for their attendance at Public Inquiry.

In most cases, bank statements are used to demonstrate the Financial Standing, but it is possible to use other financial documentation types to establish Financial Standing. But the Operator Licensing Regulations are strict on what is acceptable documentation. In the demonstration of the required Financial Standing. Therefore, it is best to obtain professional advice before using any other financial documentation other than bank statements.

Transport Manager CPC Holders & Demonstrating Financial Standing

Although most of the Operator Licensing Regulations surrounding the demonstrating of Financial Standing related to the Operators Licence Holder. This does not mean that the CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager does not have any responsibilities in this area. As previously stated, CPC Holders acting as the nominated Transport Manager on a Standard Operators’ Licence have an equal & shared legal liability in maintaining compliance with all Operating Licensing Regulations.

Therefore, if the Standard Operators’ Licence, they are nominated on fails to meet the required Financial Standing standards. Either at Public Inquiry or at any other time when the Operator’s Licence is valid. As the nominated Transport Manager, they may face the possibility of having their “Professional Competence” along with their “Good Repute” being brought into question. By the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. Along with the possible disciplinary action being taken against them by the Traffic Commissioner.    

Public Inquiry Preparation: Taking a Positive from Having to Attend Public Inquiry

Most Operator Licence Holders or CPC Holders acting as the nominated Transport Manager work in a compliant manner, but for whatever reason, they find themselves having to attend a Public Inquiry. In most cases, it is because they have, for many various reasons, taken their “eye off the ball.” Business are made up of people, not robots. People will make mistakes, if for no other reason than that we are all human!

Whatever the reasons for the compliance standards usually kept have slipped. Compliance failures can be in many forms, including late maintenance inspections (PMI’s), undetected drivers’ hour infringements, or numerous other reasons. Therefore this is why they should be dealt with as soon as possible when noticed.

These reasons may not seem too important & may be seen as no more than “small infringements of compliance.” However, those “small infringements of compliance” may end up being part of the reason(s) for a fatal crash involving a vehicle, which was being operated under the authority of an Operator’s Licence. The Operator’s Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager are responsible for maintaining.

So it could be that the Operator’s Licence Holder or CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager. May not only be facing a Public Inquiry but there is the possibility of finding themselves in the “Courts of Law” facing manslaughter charges.

So, after reading, it may be hard to find a positive, but there is one. Public Inquiries are not called because they are “fun things to do” They are the Operator Licensing Regime way of indicating; it believes there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Before it becomes a more serious problem as described previously.

Therefore, Public Inquiry can be seen as a “shot across the bows.” Or the triggering of an alarm for the Business or a CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager. In terms of how the level of compliance is being maintained to Operating Licensing Regulations.

It may not seem it, but being called to Public Inquiry is better than being summoned to a “Court of Law” on possible manslaughter charges. As the first way to indicate that there was a problem with the way, compliance is being maintained.

Oplas Transport Consultancy has found that many of its clients have used the time spent preparing for a Public Inquiry. To put in place or replace systems of work for compliance with the Operator Licensing Regulations & are confident that they will be compliant, both presently & into the future. Allowing them to concentrate on driving their Business forwarded.

How can Oplas Transport Consultancy Help with Your Attendance at Public Inquiry?

Oplas Transport Consultancy has understood that formal legal representation & professional transport knowledge & experience both have a part to play in the Public Inquiry Process. With this combination, it achieves the best possible results for clients called to attend a Public Inquiry. In many cases, it is not a choice of one or the other, but using the skill sets of both the formal legal representation & professional transport knowledge & experience. That have delivered the best results for clients.

Therefore, Oplas Transport Consultancy Public Inquiry service & the solutions offered gives its clients access to both professional transport experts & qualified legal representation. In delivering the best possible results for our clients, when having to attend a Public Inquiry. Access to those professional service & solutions does not have to stop once the Public Inquiry has finished?

Oplas Transport Consultancy offers a full Public Inquiry Service for Operators Licence Holders, & Transport Manager CPC Holders called to Public Inquiry. This service includes consultation, public inquiry preparation, & representation.

For more information on this service & you are an Operator’s Licence Holder, please go to our Contact Page.

For more information on this service & you are a Transport Manager CPC Holder, please go to our Contact Page.

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This Website and the information shown on it, has been produced as a basic guide, to show the relationship between a CPC Holder, & the Operator Licence Regime. Therefore, it cannot be considered as formal legal advice.