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Judge sets aside haulage boss disqualification order

  • 18 March 2014
  • By Roger Brown

The upper tribunal has set aside the disqualification order imposed on the boss of Wembley-based building firm VST Building and Maintenance, saying an adjournment of his hearing would have been the “sensible course”.

In a written decision after a hearing in February, upper tribunal judge Michael Brodrick ended the six-month disqualification handed to sole director Veledin Thaci by Nick Denton, traffic commissioner (TC) for London and the South East, in September.

However, he upheld the decision to revoke the firm’s restricted O-licence for seven vehicles and two trailers. During the public inquiry (PI) in Eastbourne, Denton was told about a DVSA – formerly Vosa and the DSA – investigation into the firm.

Investigations revealed that:
- vehicles were defective, with loose wheel nuts found on one occasion;
- routine safety inspection records were not available;
- no maintenance contract was in place;
- the operator could not produce enough records for daily driver safety checks;
- safety checks were not pre-planned;
- vehicles had failed MoT tests;
- drivers’ hours records were not produced;
- vehicles were being parked at a location that the TC had not authorised.

The firm had lost its previous O-licence in January 2011 for failing to meet a financial condition. Before the latest PI, Thaci told the TC’s office that he couldn’t attend the hearing because he was receiving medical treatment in Albania, and would be out of the country until December 2013.

Thaci had suffered a serious motorcycle accident while in Albania a year before and had been told to return to the same hospital for more treatment.

A week before the PI, Thaci’s solicitor wrote to the TC’s office stating: “It is impossible for Mr Thaci to get back from Albania by [the date of the hearing] and his treatment was arranged before notification of the PI.”

He added that continuing treatment was vital to Thaci’s recovery. However, while expressing sympathy for Thaci’s health issues, the TC refused the application to adjourn the hearing.

In his decision, Judge Brodrick said the revocation order would stand, saying this had been a bad case of a firm being run with “scant regard for the requirements of the regulatory regime”.

However, he questioned whether it was necessary or fair to proceed to consider the question of disqualification.

He said: “There is no evidence that the appellant held another O-licence or that he was the director of another company holding an O-licence. He was asserting that he would be out of the country until December 2013; in that situation it seems that there was no need for urgent action on the issue of disqualification. The sensible course would have been to adjourn the question of disqualification to enable Thaci to be present.”

Thaci has now served five months of the six-month disqualification. Judge Brodrick said it would be disproportionate to pass the matter to the TC to decide whether he should be disqualified for a further month.

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Article source: http://www.commercialmotor.com:80/latest-news/judge-sets-aside-haulage-boss-disqualification-order