Fronting: know the risks

Recent case shows need for operators and TMs to be vigilant


In 2017/18, 110 operators and 144 transport managers were disqualified by traffic commissioners.

Those orders were made to stop individuals overseeing vehicle operations for a certain period of time – and in the worst cases indefinitely.

Legitimate on paper

Some people ignore the ban they’ve been given and carry on operating illegally. Others try to hide what they’re doing through a ‘front’.

This might be a business which looks legitimate on paper and isn’t connected to the banned operator.

Or it might be the disqualified person’s got a silent connection to an existing licence holder.

Taking action

That silent connection is a major risk for any legitimate operator and transport manager.

It’s the exact situation a transport manager in the North East recently faced.

The operator he worked for hired vehicles and contracted maintenance to businesses which were run by an individual banned from operating until 2028.

The transport manager was given instructions and paid by the disqualified operator – not the licence holder – and didn’t have a contract of employment.

He was prevented from carrying out his duties as TM and even asked to move vehicles for the banned operator’s company. The TM left the business because he wasn’t able to do his job.

The true operator

The Traffic Commissioner, Tim Blackmore, took no action against the transport manager at public inquiry. He recognised that the TM acted to quickly remove himself from the ‘front’ operation.

The licence holder didn’t show up for the inquiry. After hearing evidence from a DVSA vehicle examiner, the Commissioner ruled the licence had been used as a front for the banned operator. He revoked the authority with immediate effect.

He also disqualified the firm’s director for three years because he’d allowed his licence to be used as a front for a banned operator.

Check operator history

If you’ve got concerns about disqualified operators, you can check decisions made by traffic commissioners via our online records.

Check here

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