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What does good repute and fitness REALLY mean?

As highlighted by Traffic Commissioners, the concepts of “good repute” and “fitness” are essential parts of the operators’ licencing system. When people or businesses apply for a licence to operate vehicles, they need to show the Commissioner that they meet the minimum standards. Once granted the licence, ongoing checks are done to ensure they meet these standards. If they fail to maintain good repute or fitness, they might face regulatory actions, including the possibility of losing their licence.

Even though many operators confuse “good repute” and “fitness,” it’s crucial to understand their differences. Those with restricted licenses must meet the “fitness” criteria, while standard national and international operators must have “good repute.”

Additionally, having a qualified and reputable transport manager is essential for Standard national and International operator licencing. If a transport manager’s reputation is compromised, they might be removed from the operator’s licence.

Evaluating good repute and fitness gives Traffic Commissioners flexibility in considering convictions or activities. Depending on the situation, this flexibility can work for or against operators.

Fitness:

When applying for a restricted operator’s licence, the applicant must not be considered unfit due to certain convictions or involvement in specific activities related to previous operations involving vehicles. This means that certain activities can affect their fitness evaluation even without convictions. For example, issues with taxes or anti-competitive behaviour can be considered.

The Traffic Commissioner requires any ‘O‘ Licence applicant to be a fit and proper person. The Traffic Commissioner will look at anyone who is named on the application and take into account any previous convictions for the past five years that have been declared on the application relating to any of the following: Defective maintenance, Speeding, Drivers Hours, Overloading and Testing etc.

Good Repute: 

Applicants need to have a good reputation when they apply for a licence; if they lose this reputation later, their licence can be revoked. The same applies to transport managers nominated for the licence. There are guidelines on how good repute is evaluated for individuals and companies, and this assessment can include various factors beyond just convictions.

The Traffic Commissioner will look at any previous convictions and any convictions imposed that are not spent. Has there been a serious offence (more than three months in prison, a fine exceeding level 4 or a community service order imposed) or repeated convictions for road transport offences (driver’s hours, rest periods, road vehicle safety)? Failure to notify or disclose convictions will have grave consequences for the application or continuance of any licence.

Mandatory Loss of Good Repute: 

Certain rules dictate that an individual loses good repute if they have multiple serious convictions or repeated road transport-related offences. This doesn’t directly apply to companies, but directors’ convictions can impact the company’s licence.

Road Transport Offences: 

Repeated road transport offences can lead to a loss of good repute. The context and risk posed by these offences are considered.

Other Relevant Convictions and Considerations: 

Various offences related to vehicle operations can collectively affect an operator’s good repute.

Rehabilitation: 

The time it takes for convictions to no longer impact reputation is determined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Recent changes have shortened this period, affecting the consideration of convictions in licensing decisions.

“Most Serious Infringements”: A concept known as “most serious infringements” applies to standard national and international operators. These involve significant violations, and evidence of these occurrences can impact good repute. However, not all cases result in a loss of good repute.

Reporting to the Traffic Commissioner: 

Operators must report convictions and significant changes within a specific time frame. Failure to report can worsen the situation, while timely and open communication shows commitment to compliance.

By understanding and following these principles, operators can maintain their licenses and demonstrate their commitment to safe and responsible vehicle operations.

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