Motor Transport and the Express & Star report on Keltruck’s victory in a test case brought by the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency.

Keltruck wins v VOSA

Dealers heave huge sigh of relief as dealer wins O-licence case.

Jack Semple
Keltruck, the Scania dealer, won a test case against VOSA on Monday on whether or not dealers need an operator’s licence to take customer’s semi-trailers to annual test.

The district judge at Market Harborough magistrates court ruled that a truck on trade plates and the semi-trailer it is pulling are one vehicle; therefore the trailer is not a load and no O-licence is needed.

Judge Meredith commented that it is regrettable that the law is still unclear, relating to whether an unladen trailer is ever a load, despite a promise from the government to clarify the law.

The position of a tractor unit registered to a dealer remains unsettled. Keltruck’s solicitor, Stephen Kirkbright of Leeds-based Ford & Warren, argued that it would be absurd to have a truck legally pulling a trailer on trade plates one day, being registered by the dealer the next day and as a result unable legally to take a trailer for annual test; but the judge gave no opinion.

The judgement will be a huge relief to dealers; all the truck makers’ dealer networks had contributed to Keltruck’s legal costs because of the importance of the case.

The case arose when Keltruck used a tractor on trade plates to pull an ASDA trailer between sites for test preparation. The judge said that was acceptable.

The judge ruled that the truck could still be run on trade plates, even though Keltruck has held it for more than three months, because there was still a clear intention to sell it on. He awarded Keltruck costs out of central funds.

VOSA’s representative said that a decision on whether or not to appeal would be taken at “the very highest level”. Similarly, VOSA must decide on a number of similar prosecutions that are pending.

Why VOSA changed its policy in the first place — while refusing to discuss the matter with the trade — remains unclear.

Viewpoint

Andrew Brown
Editor, Motor Transport

Keltruck cleared over VOSA’s petty O-licence action

Congratulations to Keltruck for winning its case against VOSA on whether a dealership needs an O-licence for taking a vehicle to an MoT test.

But VOSA should never have brought this case at all. The law did not need clarification. It was VOSA that seems to have changed the way the rules were enforced. The result has been that a major and highly reputable truck dealer has had to spend considerable time and money, with support from the industry, in order to prove VOSA wrong.

This was not a case where VOSA found faults on vehicles or drivers’ hours breaches where safety was an issue. It must have been possible to resolve the issue through negotiation or by VOSA admitting it was wrong. VOSA needs to concentrate on catching the rogues in the industry, not bringing cases such as this.

Andrew Bentley, MInst SMM
General Manager – Marketing & Business Development
Tel: +44 (0)121 524 1808
Mob: +44 (0)7711 638 808