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Edinburgh & Scotland Public Inquiries

Public Inquiries in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland

The Scottish Traffic Area is run from the Office of the Traffic Commissioner at the Old Stamp Office in Waterloo Square in Edinburgh. The Traffic Commissioner is Joan Aitken.

Most public inquiries in Scotland take place in Edinburgh. From time to time public inquiries are also held in Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and sometimes on the islands.

Public inquiries take place in Scotland in connection with both goods vehicle and passenger vehicle operator licences. Public inquiries are held to consider disciplinary action against operator licence holders where there is evidence that they may have breached the law or the conditions of their licence. They are also called to consider applications for new operators licences or where there is an application to make changes to an existing licence. The vast majority of applications are dealt with without a public inquiry, but problematic ones go to public inquiry for consideration.

You can find out more about the public inquiry process on our page called About Public Inquiries. Basically, a public inquiry is a formal legal hearing set up a bit like a court or tribunal. Evidence, witnesses and legal arguments all take place and a formal legally binding decision is made by the Traffic Commissioner.

The Scottish Traffic Area

The Scottish Traffic Area covers a larger area than any other traffic area within Great Britain. It covers the whole of mainland Scotland as well as the islands including the Western Isles, the Orkney Islands and the Shetlands.

There are 6,300 business in Scotland licensed to operate goods vehicles and 900 licenced to operate passenger vehicles.

Public Inquiries in Edinburgh

Most public inquiries in the Scottish Traffic Area are dealt with in Edinburgh where there is a purpose built court room. The hearings will be heard by the Traffic Commissioner or a deputy Traffic Commissioner.

In the year 2014/2015 there were a total of 85 goods vehicle and 49 passenger vehicle public inquiries in the Scottish Traffic Area.

Of the goods vehicle public inquiries, 55 of them were to consider disciplinary action and 30 for considering applications. 29 of the passenger vehicle public inquiries were for application to be decided and 20 for disciplinary action.

Outcomes of Goods Vehicle (HGV) Public Inquiries in the Scottish Traffic Area

Result of disciplinary public inquiries :

From goods vehicle public inquiries called for disciplinary action, 7 resulted in the operators licence being revoked. 5 goods vehicle licences were suspended and 25 were curtailed. Only 5 (less than 10%) resulted in no action taken.

Result of applications heard at public inquiry :

30 applications were dealt with at public inquiries over the course of the year. One of these was refused outright but only nine were granted in full. The majority of them were granted partially or with conditions. .

The outcome of passenger vehicle public inquiries in Scotland

The result of disciplinary public inquiries for passenger vehicle operator licences was as follows:

Out of 29 public inquiries for disciplinary action, 10, just over one third, resulted in revocation of the licence. One was suspended and 2 curtailed. Others were subject to conditions or formal warnings and only 4 resulted in no action taken.

Result of applications heard at public inquiry :

There were 20 applications dealt with at public inquiry. Six of these were refused outright, fourteen were granted in full.

What to do if you've been called to a public inquiry in Scotland

First of all, recognise that any public inquiry called for any reason is a very serious thing. Secondly recognise that getting legal advice and having an experienced transport law solicitor on your side is at least half of the problem sorted.

A good transport law specialist will be able to get stuck into your case and do all sorts of things to get you ready to face the Traffic Commissioner and come away with a good outcome.

We strongly recommend that you speak to us urgently if you've had a call to public inquiry. Nearly all of our clients (well over 90%) have a successful outcome at their public inquiries.

We regularly handle public inquiries at Edinburgh and know exactly how to prepare and present a successful case. We've been doing it for years and have helped hundreds of operators through what is always a very difficult and uncertain time.

Your chance of a successful outcome at your public inquiry increases dramatically if you have experienced and skilled legal representation. So choosing a good transport solicitor is of vital importance.

Contact Us About Your Public Inquiry

Please get in touch with us without charge or obligation.

Contact us today and we'll give you an idea about how we might be able to help you. We will be very glad to talk through your situation and review your papers free of charge to help you to make an informed decision about what to do.

You can call us any time on 0800 1777 522 or alternatively you can email us or make a Free Online Enquiry


Call us for free on 0800 1777 522


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We advise and represent transport businesses throughout the whole of the UK in all parts of England, Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland

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Latest Blogs

The current system of regulating goods vehicle operations throughout Northern Ireland came into effect in 2012. The system for licensing goods vehicles and taking disciplinary action against licence h...
This case involved a passenger vehicle public inquiry in Birmingham involving a coach company. The operator was accused of multiple maintenance failings including a poor MOT pass rate and high rate of...

A long established scaffolding firm operating ten large goods vehicles were called to a goods vehicle public inquiry. 


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Latest Transport Law

Transport Law
The current system of regulating goods vehicle operations throughout Northern Ireland came into effect in 2012. The system for licensing goods vehicles and taking disciplinary action against licence holders is now largely in line with the system for the rest of the United Kingdom, though with some differences. There are about 5,980 goods vehicle operator licences issued in Northern Ireland.

The legislation is the same and the appeal process against decisions made at public inquiries is now one system covering the whole of the UK.

One key difference is that in Northern Ireland there are no Traffic Commissioners. The person in Northern Ireland who discharges similar functions to the Traffic Commissioners in Great Britain is the head of the Transport Regulation Unit (TRU), part of the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment. The current head of the TRU is Donna Knowles who has been in this position since 2014.

It is the Head of the TRU who ultimately decides who is fit to hold a goods vehicle operators licence in Northern Ireland. The Head of the TRU holds public inquiries to determine whether an operators licence should be granted and also to decide whether disciplinary action is needed against operator licence holders whose fitness has been brought into question.

There are roughly about 50 goods vehicle public inquiries in Northern Ireland each year. The public inquiry hearings are usually held at Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street in Belfast.

The public inquiry hearing itself is a formal legal hearing. It looks and feels a little like a court hearing but the rules of procedure are less rigid and formal. The public inquiry hearing will involve oral and documentary evidence and at the end of the process the Head of the TRU will make a decision.

Currently, the public inquiry process in Northern Ireland relates only to goods vehicle licence holders, it does not involve passenger vehicle licences.

Outcomes of Goods Vehicle Public Inquiries in Belfast

The Heard of the TRU has wide ranging powers over operator licence holders. Where a public inquiry is convened to decide whether or not to grant a new licence, the licence could be granted or refused.

Where the public inquiry is to consider disciplinary action against an operator licence holder, the Head of the TRU has the power to revoke (ie terminate) an operators licence; to suspend it or reduce the number of vehicle operated under the licence. They have the power to add conditions to an operators licence and to disqualify people from being involved in holding an operators licence in future.

What to do if you've been called to a public inquiry in Eastbourne, London or the South East

First of all, recognise that any public inquiry called for any reason is a very serious thing. Secondly recognise that getting legal advice and having an experienced transport law solicitor on your side is at least half of the problem sorted.

A good transport law specialist solicitor will be able to get stuck into your case and do all sorts of important things to get you ready to face the public inquiry and come away with a good outcome.

We strongly recommend that you speak to us urgently if you've had a call to public inquiry. Nearly all of our clients (well over 90%) have a successful outcome at their public inquiries.

We handle public inquiries in Belfast as well all over the UK. We know how to prepare and present a successful case. We've been doing it for years and have helped hundreds of operators through what is always a very difficult and uncertain time.

Your chance of a successful outcome at your public inquiry increases dramatically if you have experienced and skilled legal representation. So choosing a good transport solicitor is of vital importance.

Contact Us About Your Public Inquiry

Please get in touch with us without charge or obligation. Ask to speak to Simon Newman about your public inquiry.

Simon will then give you an idea about how we can help you. He will be very glad to talk through your situation and review your papers free of charge to help you to make an informed decision about what to do.

You can call us any time on 0800 1777 522 or alternatively you can email on Simon.Newman@NALegal.co.uk 
Transport Law
This case involved a passenger vehicle public inquiry in Birmingham involving a coach company. The operator was accused of multiple maintenance failings including a poor MOT pass rate and high rate of roadworthiness prohibitions.
Transport Law

A long established scaffolding firm operating ten large goods vehicles were called to a goods vehicle public inquiry.