In a recent case, Nick Denton, Traffic Commissioner for the West Midlands, was faced with a case of fronting, where a revoked operator uses another company to hide the fact that they are continuing to operate illegally.
In this case, the operator at public inquiry, Wayne Wood trading as Woodys Haulage had effectively lent his licence to Slumberdreams (UK) a company controlled by Sharez Hussain which does not have an operator’s licence. Mr Hussain has been associated with multiple revoked licences, held by Slumberdream Ltd, Slumberzone Beds Ltd, Health Therapy Ltd and Midlands Logistics UK Ltd amongst others. Originally disqualified from holding a licence in 2012 as a result of serious non-compliance, Mr Hussain has since sought to operate through a number of other companies.
The commissioner found that there was no sense in which Mr Wood was the operator of the three vehicles in question. The work of the three vehicles (bed delivery) was assigned by Slumberdream, the operating cost of the vehicles was borne entirely by Slumberdream and the drivers were instructed and paid by Slumberdream. and Mr Wood bore no financial risk from the operation of the vehicles: he simply collected £425 per week for the use of his operator licence.
The commissioner said “Whether Mr Wood entered into an arrangement which he knew was illegal, or whether he was so naïve and incompetent that he failed to realise that the arrangements amounted to lending his licence, scarcely matters. Neither possibility reflects any credit on Mr Wood. I find that either through deliberate illegal action or through an unconscionable degree of ignorance and negligence, he has lost his good repute. His actions have enabled a long-standing rogue operator to continue to operate HGVs over a significant period of time.”
Mr Wood lost both his operator’s licence and his good repute as a transport manager.
As a consequence of this, he is no longer able to be nominated as the transport manager for Woody1991 Ltd, his son’s company, calling into question the future of a second business.