Reasons for Being Called to Public Inquiry: Introduction

Why am I being called to Public Inquiry? What is this all about & what’s caused this Public Inquiry to be called & why is this happening now? Are words often heard from Operator Licence Holders & CPC Holders acting or have acted as the nominated Transport Manager on a Standard Operators Licence. When first receiving formal notification from the Traffic Commissioner’s Office, having to attend a Public Inquiry. So why is that?

There are many answers to the above question, but the most common answer is that. The Operator’s Licence Holder or a CPC Holder acting as a Transport Manager. Has not noticed, forgotten, or failed to take action regarding compliance to the Operator Licensing Regime, which could have happened weeks or months earlier.

These possible failures in compliance most likely have then been picked due to an interaction with the Regulatory or Enforcement bodies, such as (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) DVSA or the Traffic Commissioner’s Office. The interaction with either the enforcement or regulatory bodies may have occurred weeks or even months previously.

The result, as stated above, is the Operators Licence Holder or a CPC Holder acting or served as the nominated Transport Manager on a Standard Operators Licence. By having to attend a Public Inquiry many weeks or even months later.

This time lag, so to speak, will sometimes mean an Operator’s Licence Holder or a nominated Transport Manager, who is the holder of a Certificate of Professional Competence being caught by surprise. On receiving a “call up” letter requesting attendance at a Public Inquiry. Hence, the comments mentioned above, when the call-up letter for Public Inquiry is received & being read.  

Public Inquiry: Effects of Interactions with the Enforcement or Regulatory Bodies

Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency

A DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) will visit an Operator Licence Holder’s Operating Centre. They have the power under the Operating Licensing Regulations to enter any premises named on an Operators’ Licence, known as the Operating Centre. Once on-site, they can inspect the vehicles present on-site. Plus, those records relating to those vehicles being operating, listed against the Operator’s Licence.

  • Sometimes, a visit may be no more than a DVSA Officer passing an operating centre & something has caught their interest.
  • It may be simply a routine visit, for such reasons as reviewing proposed site suitability. To be used as an operating centre, or if the current operating centre is suitable for various vehicles to be operated from the site.  
  • There are also visits due to intelligence being obtained or received by DVSA, which indicates an Operator’s Licence Holder may be operating in a non-compliant manner, & warranty’s further investigation.


The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency is no different from any other government enforcement agency. Not only does it have an enforcement capability, but it also has an intelligence capability. It uses to gather intelligence on those parties it believes are not being compliant with the Operator Licensing Regulations & uses that intelligence to target those parties for enforcement action.

  • DVSA visits may also result from the Operator’s Licence Holder being specifically targeted, resulting from worries over vehicle safety or general compliance, such as several MOT failures registered against the Operators Licence. The result is that the Operator Licence Holder has a low OCRS (Operator Compliance Risks Score). OCRS is a system by which DVSA target their resources on to Operator Licence Holder’s, which the OCRS system indicates, are more likely to be non-compliant.
  • A DVSA site visit may be triggered because a vehicle authorised on an Operators Licence has been stopped & undergone a roadside check, & has received a prohibition notice of a severe nature. Such as S prohibition, & most likely been taken off the road.


On such visits, the DVSA Officer(s) may wish to informally question the Operator’s Licence Holder or employees, such as the Transport Manager. If the questions asked are informal, it is prudent to make sure that all parties understand the basis; all questions are asked & answers are given under. I.e. There should be no formal record made by either party, as it is an informal conversation.

Or the interview is a formal interview under caution, usually done under what is known as PACE (Police & Criminal Evidence Act); this is used where the DVSA. Believe that there are possible issues concerning none compliance.

Those parties being interviewed, commonly being the Operator’s Licence Holder, CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager. Any party being interviewed under PACE is allowed to have a party for consultation purposes with them, at the time of the interview, if they wish.

Oplas Transport Consultancy is happy to attend such an interview if requested by parties wishing to have a party with them at a DVSA interview.

In addition, the DVSA Officer(s) will most likely want to look through vehicle & driver records being kept by the Operators Licence Holder. To check that everything is in order, as per the Operator Licensing Regulations.

If records are being checked, those records need to be up to date & available for inspection, if requested.

Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC)

It is not only interactions with the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency, which can lead to attending a Public Inquiry if not handled correctly. The same goes for the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, although its role is a regulatory one, not an enforcement one as per the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency. It also has an intelligence capability. However, it is not a gathering one as per DVSA; it is more collating intelligence from several sources. To be used in its regulatory role.

The interaction(s) with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner can lead to a Public Inquiry. When this happens, it is mainly in the areas connected to Operator Licence administration. Such as when a CPC Holder leaves their position as the nominated Transport Manager.

In this situation, it is a statutory obligation that both the Operator’s Licence Holder & the Certificate of Professional Competence Holder, acting as the nominated Transport Manager. Notify the Office of the Traffic Commissioner within twenty-eight days of the Transport Manager’s leaving date. It is not uncommon for either one or both parties to forget to do this.

This failure in itself may not trigger a Public Inquiry. Still, a record will be kept & in the future, and the Operator’s Licence holder was to apply for a change to the Operators Licence held, then this previous failure in compliance. It may have a bearing on the decision to grant that change or even trigger a Public Inquiry.

The same also applies to the Transport Manager CPC Holder if their name was put forward to be the nominated Transport Manager on a different Operator’s Licence. The previous failure in compliance could influence whether their nomination is accepted by the Traffic Commissioner’s Office or even trigger a Public Inquiry.

Please Note: The Office of the Traffic Commissioner & Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency are the two main bodies. That Operator Licence Holders & CPC Holders acting as a Transport Manager interact with, leading to them being called to Public Inquiry.

But there are other bodies such as the Police, HSE (Health & Safety Executive) & Environmental Agency. An interaction with them can lead to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner convening a Public Inquiry.                

Reasons for Being Called to Public Inquiry

So, a Public Inquiry has been convened by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.

The Operator’s Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC Holder has received the “call-up” letter, & it states the legislation under which they are being called to Public Inquiry under

So, what are the actual reasons for the convening of the Public Inquiry? The reason(s)can be many, very diverse &, in some cases, involve complex areas of law. Therefore, the list shown below is not a final or exhaustive one. It is just a list of the more common reasons that have been known to cause the Office of the Traffic Commissioner to convene a Public Inquiry.

  • Operator Licence Applications or Variations; When a Public Inquiry is called, it is due to irregularities within the application. It may also be because the Office of the Traffic Commissioner has information about the applicant. Which the Traffic Commissioner feels the applicant needs to answer. In the setting of a Public Inquiry.
  • The audit or investigation carried out by DVSA has triggered a recommendation that the Operators Licence Holder or Transport Manager be called to a public inquiry
  • Review of operating centres suitability (for goods vehicle Operator Licences only & usually concerning environmental cases)
  • To determine if there has been a breach of regulations by an Operator’s licence Holder examples of vehicle maintenance failings, i.e. high MOT failure rate, driver’s hours or tachograph regulation failings, possibly from a roadside inspection. If these failings are related to a Standard Operator Licence, then the Transport Manager CPC Holder would also face a Public Inquiry.
  • Parties named on the Operators Licence been convicted of an offence, as being notifiable under the Operator licence Regime to the Traffic Commissioner. or failures to tell the Office of the Traffic Commissioner about notifiable fixed penalties or convictions
  • Financial standing failures, possibly due to the Operator Licence Holder suffered a business insolvency
  • Matters which bring the fitness, “good repute”, & “professional competence” of a Transport Manager or Operator’s Licence holder into question
  • A traffic commissioner may call a public inquiry to clarify information that has been received, which raises concerns in connection with actions that an Operator’s Licence holder or Transport Manager may have taken.
  • There has been an incident that gives cause for concern around the Operator Licence Holder systems of work for ensuring road safety, such as a severe accident or a wheel loss. Again, this would also apply to a CPC Holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager if the Operators Licence in question is a Standard Operator’s Licence.
  • There may be a suggestion of “foul play”, including deliberately trying to obstruct a DVSA or police investigation, applying to all parties with a formal association with the Operator Licence in question.
  • A history of criminal convictions involving the Operator Licence Holder, senior management, transport managers & drivers (particularly those convictions relate to road transport offences)
  • It appears that the Operators Licence Holder or Transport Manager CPC holder has failed to notify the Office of the Traffic Commissioner of essential developments, including material licence changes, such as a change in directorship or ownership
  • There is evidence that the Operator’s Licence Holder or the Certificate of Professional Competence holder acting as the nominated Transport Manager. Has frequently failed to comply with scheduled service timetabling requirements (Concerning PSV operators only) as per the Operator Licence’s undertakings.
  • Evidence indicating that the Operators Licence Holder or the Transport Manager CPC Holder has let (Knowingly or without their knowledge) the used an AdBlue emulator’ cheat device’ to be used on vehicles operated under the authority of the Operator’s Licence, that they are name or nominated on.
  • There is evidence that the Operator’s Licence Holder or the Transport Manager CPC Holder has let (Knowingly or without their knowledge) the practice of ‘disc swapping’ or ‘fronting’ of an unlawful transport operation occur. Involving the Operator Licence that they are responsible for the compliance, to the Operator Licensing Regime.


Please Note:
Listed above is typical examples of why a Public Inquiry may be called. It, not an exhaustive list; no party should rely on the examples shown as the reasons for convening a Public Inquiry. It is for the Office of the Traffic Commissioner only to determine if a Public Inquiry should be convened

How can Oplas Transport Consultancy help with your Public Inquiry?

Oplas Transport Consultancy has understood that formal legal representation & professional transport knowledge & experience both have a part to play in Public Inquiry Process, make up the best combination, & achieve the best possible results for clients. Who has been 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 its clients.

Therefore, Oplas Transport Consultancy Public Inquiry service & the range of 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.

Oplas Transport Consultancy offers a full Public Inquiry Service for Operators Licence Holders & CPC Holders who are/have acted as the nominated Transport Manager & 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.