Thirteen revised Statutory Documents: Oh no, more red tape – or is it?

Technical Director | Tachograph Analysis Consultants Limited

‘Statutory Documents’ were first issued in 2011.  Thirteen (what a number!) revised Statutory Documents were republished in December 2015 and came into force on 1 January, 2016.

To many, this could only mean one thing – more red tape and more bureaucratic burden in, what some would say, is an already over-regulated industry.  Perhaps though, before they are condemned outright, it should be asked exactly what a Statutory Document is?

What is a Statutory Document?

They are public domain documents provided by the Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC).  Offering detailed explanations and guidance for all Traffic Commissioners, they facilitate a common approach framework and structure for instructions to members of staff acting in support of the Traffic Commissioners.

For the industry they reflect a growing openness and offer re-assurance of a unified approach.  For goods and passenger operations alike, these documents are absolutely invaluable in providing greater clarification in each of the following areas (reference 1) :

Statutory Document 1: Good Repute and Fitness
Statutory Document 2: Finance
Statutory Document 3: Transport Managers 
 Statutory Document 4: Operating Centres, Stable Establishments and Addresses for Service
Statutory Document 5: Legal Entities (including Insolvency and Regulation 31 & Section 57 Applications)
Statutory Document 6: Vocational Driver Conduct
Statutory Document 7: Impounding
Statutory Document 8: Delegation of Authority (in terms of Staff and Multiple Licence Holders)
Statutory Document 9: Case Management
Statutory Document 10: Principles of Decision Making & the Concept of Proportionality
Statutory Document 11: Format of Decisions (including Publication, Written Reasons and Decisions)
Statutory Document 12: Appeals
Statutory Document 13 : Small PSV Operations (including Limousines & Novelty Vehicles)

As an introduction there is also Statutory Document 0.  It explains the background and that they have been published “as an available resource for all applicants, operators, transport managers, vocational drivers, and other interested parties.”

It sets out their use and also makes the point, in the absence of other tribunal rules, legal texts etc.; they are the documents to be relied on.

Statutory Documents

The Statutory Documents go into significant detail.  A brief overview of six of them is given below.

Good Repute and Fitness (36 pages)
This substantively deals with the requirements of good repute and fitness for operator licence applicants and holders.  It offers guidance as to how Traffic Commissioners should interpret the law in relation to the requirements to be of good repute and / or fitness.  It provides circumstances of conduct and other issues that may cause a Transport Manager (TM) to jeopardise repute.  It goes on to examine responsibilities should a TM leave, or good repute is lost.

Finance (32 pages)
Appropriate financial standing is reviewed – the finance required to successfully apply for, and continue with, an operator licence.  Different sources of acceptable finance are itemised together with how the availability of that finance may be assessed.  The amounts required, based on a cost per initial vehicle, then subsequent vehicles, are defined.  In some circumstances in which financial standing cannot be demonstrated, a Traffic Commissioner may, though is not required to, provide a period of time to rectify the situation.

Transport Managers (TM) (34 pages)
This identifies the types of activity which might be expected of a TM:
Manage, audit and review compliance systems to ensure they are effective;
Review any shortcomings such as prohibitions and / or annual test failures;
Ensure relevant changes are notified in accordance with operator licence requirements; and
Keep up-to-date with relevant changes in standards and legislation.

Other activities include driver and vehicle administration, management and operation.  The point is made, TMs retain legal responsibility regardless of whether activities are delegated.  The minimum knowledge to be taken into consideration for the official recognition of professional competence is also detailed.

Operating Centres (31 pages)
Terms including operating centre, stable establishment, normally kept, suitable premises etc., are explained.  Areas when considering an operating centre are described, including land usage, environmental considerations, number, type and size of vehicles, operating times, parking arrangements etc.

Advertising of proposals is detailed, together with the how potential objections can be raised, and by whom.  The document also offers approaches that can be taken by staff acting on behalf of individual Traffic Commissioners, designed to allow a more effective decision-making process.

Legal Entities (26 pages)
Guidance as to the different types of legal entity associated with Operator Licences is provided.  These can include companies, partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP), unincorporated bodies (perhaps a club or association), community interest companies, trusts, charities, schools etc.  The importance of keeping details updated including changes in entity, and registering changes, is stressed.

It reviews directors, shadow directors, the ‘controlling mind’, the lifting of ‘corporate veils’ to prevent individuals hiding behind limited liability status, director disqualification etc.  Also considered are areas including death, bankruptcy, sequestration, insolvency, receivership, voluntary arrangements etc.

Vocational Driver Conduct (47 pages)
Distinction is drawn between Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licence holders and Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence holders and applicants.

Referring to the behaviour and standards expected of a professional driver, this document outlines the importance of the responsibilities of individual drivers including attitudes to road safety.  Drivers are expected to be fully conversant with relevant legislation, the evasion of which cannot be attributed to following employers' instructions.

Whilst Traffic Commissioners are not a prosecuting authority, the document also provides details of cautions, written warnings, driver conduct hearings, the rehabilitation of offenders, sex offenders register etc.

Senior Traffic Commissioner Beverley Bell described the changes as: “a more efficient and effective licensing regime that helps responsible operators.”  They also make it easier for Traffic Commissioners to prosecute those who fail to abide by the rules.

They were designed to streamline processes, lighten the burden of compliant, law-abiding transport operators, and reinforce the responsibilities of those in the industry.

Some guidance may ultimately be subject to decisions of the higher courts and subsequent legislation.  , these documents are extensive and thorough, providing 395 pages of clarification, explanation and guidance, and should be enthusiastically be welcomed by all.

1. There is a 14th Statutory Document ‘Local Bus Services in England (outside London) and Wales’.  This was last updated in March, 2013.