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Transport regulation and operator licensing lawyers

Our specialist team of transport regulation lawyers focuses on the provision of services to the transport and logistics industry including regulatory road transport, Public Inquiries, operator licence compliance, motoring offences, DVSA investigations and prosecutions.

Your operator’s licence may be your company’s most valuable asset. Without it, you cannot operate goods vehicles or buses. As an operator licence holder, your business and its transport managers are closely regulated by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner and the DVSA. A good relationship with the regulator is “mission-critical” to the success of your business.

Our specialist transport regulatory lawyers have been advising those in the goods and passenger transport sector for decades. Our clients are from all sectors of the supply chain, and include:

  • Dedicated hauliers and bus companies, both in the UK and worldwide
  • Other companies that also hold an operator’s licence to move goods or passengers
  • Holders of both standard, international and restricted operator licences
  • Directors, transport managers and professional drivers

How our transport regulatory lawyers can help you

We understand that safe, profitable and successful fleet operations are key to the success of your business. Our expert transport regulatory solicitors can support you with:

Our transport regulation services

Regulatory defence

No matter how large or compliant an operator is, accidents can still happen. Every year the Office of the Traffic Commissioner holds over 1,000 public inquiries and preliminary hearings, and many more driver conduct hearings. These usually follow an investigation by the DVSA.

Undergoing a regulatory investigation or Traffic Commissioner proceedings can be extremely harmful to a company’s reputation. Our overriding focus is on reducing risk and exposure and minimising reputational damage.

Our transport regulatory defence solicitors can:

  • Represent your business in any proceedings before the Traffic Commissioner, including public inquiries, preliminary hearings and senior team leader meetings
  • Making any necessary representations to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner with a view to seeking to neutralise or pre-empt any regulatory action
  • Advise and represent you during any DVSA maintenance or drivers’ hours investigation or desk-based assessment, and assistance in responding to any DVSA or police record production request
  • Representing a company driver, employee or manager during any interview under caution conducted by either the police, DVSA, or other enforcement body;
  • Represent your drivers at any driver conduct hearing or during any criminal proceedings with a view to protecting your company’s interests and reputation.

Risk management

Operating HGVs or buses is perhaps the highest-risk activity undertaken by any business. Identifying and eliminating transport risk and responding effectively to incidents that occur should be a top priority for all operators.

Our expert solicitors can:

  • Provide bespoke training on transport regulatory matters, both board level and transport manager level.
  • Carry out a compliance health check of your business to assess any areas of risk and exposure
  • Review your core fleet risk policies to ensure they are in line with current legislation, and protect the interests of the company in the event of an incident
  • Assist you in reporting any prohibitions, fixed penalty notices or driver convictions to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner with a view to preventing regulatory escalation
  • Help you to carry out your own legally privileged internal investigation into incidents and “near misses” such as bridge strikes, collisions, prohibition notices and wheel losses

Growth

An operator’s licence should never be an afterthought. Strategic licensing advice at an early stage is crucial if you are planning to grow your fleet or restructure your business. This is also relevant if you are seeking to acquire or merge with another business that holds an operator’s licence, add additional operating centres to your licence, or expand existing sites.

Our specialist operator's licence lawyers can:

  • Advise you in relation to any application to vary your operator’s licence
  • Correspond as necessary with the regulator on your behalf to facilitate the grant of an application and advise you on matters of financial standing
  • Assist you in your duties to notify the Office of the Traffic Commissioner of any material change to your business
  • Conducting transport regulatory due diligence during any merger or acquisition, and advising on any insolvency proceedings involving an operator licence holder

We can also assist with cross-border matters including challenging Border Force clandestine entrant civil penalties.

Our team is nationally and regionally recognised by both Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. We also have extensive experience in other regulatory matters including health and safety.

We are here to help and lighten the load. Our specialist transport regulatory team cover the whole of the country and are always available for a no-obligation conversation to discuss your requirements.

We also have a leading team of non-transport public inquiry lawyers who deal with all non-Traffic Commissioner public inquiries.

  • How we determine our price

    This section applies to our advice to you in respect of a motoring offence with which you have been charged.  It applies only where the offence in question is a “summary” offence, in other words, an offence which would normally be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court.  Examples of such offences include: driving whilst disqualified; driving without insurance; careless and inconsiderate driving; driving whilst unfit (alcohol or drugs); failing to give information as to the identity of the driver; failing to stop or report; and speeding.

    We have set out below the fees that we would typically charge for handling your case:

    Fee (excluding VAT)
    The below represent our average
    What services are, or are not, included?

    Type of offence

    Driving whilst disqualified:

    Trial £2,000-£5,000
    Guilty plea £1,500-£1,850

    Driving without insurance:

    Trial £2,000-£5,000
    Guilty plea £1,500-£1,850

    Careless driving:

    Trial £3,000-£5,000
    Guilty plea £1,500-£1,850

    Driving whilst over the prescribed limit; drink or drug driving – including in-charge and failure to provide a specimen:

    Trial £5,000-£8,000
    Guilty plea £1,500-£1,850

    Failure to provide information (driver ID):

    Trial £2,000-£5,000
    Guilty plea £1,500-£1,850

    Failure to stop (report accident):

    Trial £2,000-£5,000
    Guilty plea £1,500-£1,850

    Speeding:

    Trial £3,000-£5,000
    Guilty plea £1,500-£1,850

    VAT is charged in addition at 20%.

    On a guilty plea:

    Services included:

    1. Considering evidence
    2. Providing advice in relation to your plea and likely sentence
    3. Advising you on the options available to the court in relation to sentencing
    4. Advising you on whether you should make an exceptional hardship, or special reasons argument
    5. Representation at a single hearing.

    The following would not be included:

    1. The instruction of any expert witnesses
    2. Taking statements from any witnesses including character references
    3. Providing advice and representation in relation to a special reasons hearing or an exceptional hardship hearing
    4. Any hearing at which you admit the offence but not all the facts (a Newton Hearing)
    5. Any advice on appeal
    6. Any fine imposed by the court, surcharge or order for costs made in favour of prosecution.

    For representation at trial:

    Services included:

    1. Considering evidence
    2. Providing advice in relation to your plea and likely prospects of success
    3. Advising you on the options available to the court in relation to sentencing
    4. Written plea and case management
    5. Minimum attendance/preparation for trial of two hours
    6. Representation at a single half-day trial hearing.

    The following would not be included:

    1. The instruction of any expert witnesses
    2. Taking statements from any witnesses including character references
    3. Providing advice and representation in relation to a special reasons hearing or an exceptional hardship hearing
    4. Any hearing at which you admit the offence but not all the facts (a Newton Hearing)
    5. Any representation in person at a case management hearing
    6. Any fine imposed by the court, surcharge or order for costs made in favour of prosecution
    7. Any work following the conclusion of your final hearing.

    Please note that the fee ranges stated above reflect the work that we would expect to carry out in respect of a typical guilty plea or trial case and, where appropriate, is based on the following assumptions:

    • That you have a hearing date already listed
    • That your case is not adjourned requiring further attendance.

    Why might our fee vary?

    Factors that may result in a change from the fee indicated above include:

    • If either of the assumptions listed above proves to be incorrect
    • If the hearing runs beyond half a day
    • The location of the trial/sentence hearing
    • The number of witnesses involved
    • The number of offences charged
    • The instruction of expert witnesses
    • If the court requires a report from the probation service.

    Before you commit to paying, we will explain to you any variance from the indicative fee if this is apparent from the outset. We will also keep you updated at all times if any of these, or other, factors are likely to result in an increase in our fee.

    What other costs may arise?

    You may have to pay certain expenses and other costs. To the extent that such costs relate to amounts that we must pay to third parties, they are known as “disbursements”. The costs and expenses most likely to arise are expert’s fees, our travel expenses and, if we consult a barrister to represent you, barrister’s fees. The amount payable will vary depending on the circumstances of your case. We will aim to provide you with an estimate of such costs when you instruct us and will, of course, keep you updated as the case progresses.

    Timescale and key stages of the process

    These are the key stages of the trial process:

    1. Entering a not guilty plea (usually done in writing or online)
    2. The prosecution serves its case
    3. Case Management hearing – identifying for the Court the issues in the case and which witnesses will be required. Fixing a date for trial
    4. Trial.

    This process will typically take 12-26 weeks to complete, but this may vary. Typical factors which may influence the duration include:

    1. Witnesses availability
    2. Local Court availability
    3. The Crown Prosecution Service resources.

    We will keep you updated at all times if any of these, or other, factors are likely to result in delay.

    Who will be dealing with your case?

    Your application will typically be handled by a solicitor in our Regulatory team, supported as necessary by our trainees/paralegals. A solicitor acting for you may be described in correspondence as a “Partner” or “Legal Director”, a “Principal Associate”, an “Associate” or a “Solicitor”. Partners and Legal Directors have equivalent status. An Associate is, generally, more experienced than a Solicitor, but not as experienced as a Principal Associate. Our trainees/paralegals are not (yet) solicitors, and usually have no other formal legal qualification.

    We will always ensure that the solicitor acting for you has the requisite level of experience to handle your case competently. In any event, all work will be supervised by a Partner or Legal Director, being the most senior member of the team allocated to you.

    If we do not provide you with a fixed fee quote, or if we do additional work for you which is outside our fixed fee quote, please note that our hourly rates (exclusive of VAT) for each type of solicitor or other team member who may be involved in your transaction, are as follows:

    Partner or Legal Director (London) £450 per hour
    Partner or Legal Director (outside London) £350 per hour
    Principal Associate (London) £400 per hour
    Principal Associate (outside London) £300 per hour
    Associate (London) £360 per hour
    Associate (outside London) £260 per hour
    Solicitor (London) £330 per hour
    Solicitor (outside London) £230 per hour
    Trainee or paralegal (London) £250 per hour
    Trainee or paralegal (outside London) £175 per hour

    If we need to rely on our hourly rates, we will endeavour to provide you with an estimate of the time that each member of the team is likely to take in order to conclude your case.

    Once you know who will be in the team allocated to your transaction, you will be able to find out more information about the team by visiting the Regulatory section on our website.

    If you have any queries, please contact Dewi Ap-Thomas at dewi.ap-thomas@weightmans.com in the first instance.

Operator Licences

Chris Powell
Chris Powell

Principal Associate

+44 (0)121 616 6607 Email Chris
Charlotte Hunt
Charlotte Hunt

Associate

+44 (0)121 200 8144 Email Charlotte

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