If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
Jim Duckworth, editor of Road Transport Law and head of Transport Law Services, Woking, Surrey, helps solve your legal problems in this regular column. Write to Commercial Motor Any Questions, Room H203 Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS or phone Cff's legal hotline (0181 652 3689) giving your name and number. Duckworth's answers are an interpretation of the law and should not be seen as definitive.
Is there a 28-day period of grace?
We operate a fleet of
vehicles and four of them are on road surfacing work, but we take them off the road in November for the winter. We obtain tax refunds and take them off our Operator's Licence.
When we put the four vehicles on the road again this year We taxed them and sent off the form to specify them on the 0-licence.
We always understood we had 28 days in which to put them back on the licence so we started using them before we received windscreen discs.
The police stopped one of the vehicles and said we did not have 28 days and the vehicles should have been put back on the licence before they were put back on the road. What is your opinion?
A The police were right but
it is a technical point and we would be surprised if it resulted in any prosecution.
Section 5 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of erators) Act 1995 deals with the authorisation of ' vehicles under an Operator's Licence. Section 5(1) states: "Subject to the following provisions of this section, the vehicles authorised to be used under an Operator's Licence are: a. any motor vehicle in the lawful possession of the licence-holder (whether that motor vehicle is specified on the licence or not); and b. any trailer in the lawful possession of the licence holder."
But Section 5(6) goes on to state: "A motor vehicle which is not specified in an Operator's Licence is not authorised to be used under that licence by virtue of subsection (1) after a period of one month beginning with: a. the day on which the vehicle was first in the lawful possession of the licence holder; or b. (if later) the day on which the licence came into force."
When you took the four vehicles off your licence last year you were creating a margin on the licence for four vehicles or increasing an existing margin by four vehicles.
Sub-section (I) when read in conjunction with subsection (6) means that when the holder of an Operator's Licence acquires a vehicle to use under a margin he may use it for less than one month without having the vehicle specified on his licence or, if he intends to keep the vehicle for longer than one month, he is allowed one month in which to have the vehicle specified.
However, it should be noted that the one month runs from the day the vehicle was first lawfully in possession of the licenceholder or, if later, the day the licence came into force.
Because the vehicles have been in your lawful possession for more than a month they cannot be used on the margin for one month before re-specifying them. You should first have the vehicles specified on the licence before using them to carry goods in connection with your business.