Fronting – What is this and Why you should Avoid it!
The Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) recently issued a notice on the subject of Fronting, and the risks involved if one was to get caught up in such a scheme.
According to the notice, in 2017-2018, 110 operators and 144 Transport Managers were disqualified by Traffic Commissioners due to Fronting.
The Senior Traffic Commissioner’s statutory document No. 1, defines Fronting as “when a person, partnership, or company, which does not have an operator’s licence, uses the operator’s licence held by another entity to conceal the fact that they are behaving in a way which requires them to have an operator’s licence of their own“.
The example given by the OTC to illustrate the notice involves a Transport Manager (“TM”) working for an operator who was asked to hire vehicles and contracted maintenance out to businesses which were being run by an individual banned from operating. The TM was given instructions and paid by the disqualified operator (not the licence holder) and the TM was not issued with a contract of employment. The TM was then prevented from carrying out his duties as a TM and asked to move vehicles for the banned operator’s company. At Public Inquiry, the TM was excused as he left the business as soon as he realised that fronting was occurring. The licence holder was not so lucky and received a lengthy ban as well as revocation of the O Licence.
Fronting is considered to be a very serious offence, as it deprives the traffic commissioner of the opportunity to oversee an “operator”. The Upper Tribunal has given clear guidance that evidence of fronting can, on its own, provide justification for deciding that the operator being used as a “front” has lost its good repute. If found guilty of such behaviour, the Traffic Commissioners can in revocation cases make orders to ban the individuals involved for lengthy periods of time if not indefinitely.
It pays therefore, for licence holders to be vigilant in order to make sure that they do not become unwittingly involved in a fronting scam. Click here to go through to the Government website page which allows checks on operator’s licences.
If you would like some advice on this area, then give our team a call on 01279 818280 or click here to send an email.