Tribunal Gould Have Offered B Licence to Merchandise Transport
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DEALING with the Merchandise appeal Lord Justice Sellers, the president of the Court, attached importance to what had taken place before the Licensing Authority during the hearing of the application. Harris Lebus, Ltd.'s undertaking not to apply for additional C vehicles or C hiring allowance, and Merchandise Transport's undertaking that if the application was granted the vehicles would be used to carry only Lebus goods on.outward journeys, altered the whole nature of the application.
With such a restriction oil outward journeys, it could scarcely fit the description of public carrier and it was not surprising that an application of this character had given rise to doubts in the mind of the Licensing Authority, who had dismissed the application and found that the desire of Harris Lebus to employ Merchandise Transport to carry their goods was "less than genuinc."
" Genuine " Was Unneccessary It was subordinate to the desire of Harris Lebus and its subsidiaries, the Authority had said, to use A-licensed vehicles in order substantially to increase the capacity they could offer for return loads.
It was unnecessary to use the word " genuine " at all even though it had appeared in an earlier judgment of the Tribunal, said Lord Justice Sellers, but the suspicion which the finding expressed seemed to be justified.
The evidence of the objectors (the B.T.C. and 60 independent road operators) stood alone and unchallenged with regard to facilities for return loading, he went on. Merchandise Transport had " boldly " called no evidence on return loads and relied on authority to permit evidence of -need for outward traffic as sufficient to justify the grant without further proof, and particularly without consideration for return traffic. As the matter had been left by the Tribunal, Merchandise Transport had acquired a right to trade which fulfilled the circumstances of a B licence. Faced with the undertaking with regard to outward traffic, the Tribunal should either have dismissed the appeal or, at their discretion, should have offered a B licence with the conditions attached.
The Authority's Duty
If this had been accepted, they could have sent the matter back to the L.A. to say what restrictions, if any, should be placed on Merchandise Transport's rights to pick up return loads. There was a duty on the Licensing Authority to consider the return facilities, particularly giving consideration to restricting return loading from certain centres, where vehicles might tend to become concentrated.
His Lordship said that he would allow
the appeal on the grounds that the appropriate licence which the Act provided was a B licence, and that under the Act an A licence was " not available" to them. If a B licence were sought, then full consideration should be given to the objectors with regard to return loads.
He would allow the appeal, equally with other members of the Court, en the ground of the relationship of the main company with its subsidiary company, Merchandise Transport.
The error in the Tribunal's decision was one of law. The Tribunal was an " expert body" responsible for the proper administration of the Act. He would be reluctant to interfere with any matter of discretion, although there was power to do so in exceptional circumstances. They had for so long given the final judgment in these matters.
The Licensing Authority's decision was right and should be restored.