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Section 172 Requirements to give information and companies

I seem to get more and more tied up in cases of failing to respond to section 172 Road Traffic Act notices requiring the identity of a driver. Whilst I do have a good success rate with these, the risk of 6 points is normally a substantial pressure.

What concerns me however is the number of people who operate vehicles as part of a business who continue to have vehicles registered to a partnership or to themselves personally. The obligations relating to a registered keeper are fairly onerous, if you are a partnership each of the partners are at risk of 6 points on their own licence, in real terms two section 172 convictions is likely to result in a 6 month disqualification. Can your business continue to operate if you can’t drive?

A limited company can still be prosecuted for failing to give information, but crucially they can’t be given points, only a fine.(see below re directors)

I previously represented (and secured a not guilty finding for) a client who ran a reasonable sized car body-shop which he operated as a sole trader, they had a total of 60 vehicles including courtesy cars, recovery vehicles and small vans. The owner ran it as a sole trader which meant every time someone didn’t record their use of the vehicle when it was caught by a speed camera IT WAS HIS OWN LICENCE ON THE LINE. It was only after he had already been disqualified once that he came to me and I was able to save the second ban and provide advice on how to prevent the same situation in the future.

I am not an accountant, I can’t advise you on tax and I don’t do company law (but I know a man who does!) But if you run a small business that has vans, or other vehicles, can you afford the risk to your licence? It is possible to have a robust system to track who is using vehicles and this will often save the conviction, but it will fall to you to satisfy the court at trial, even if you can afford the time out from your business, you are very unlikely to recover more than 25 or 30% of you costs if you win.

As ever there are complications which I am happy to discuss, but the more vehicles you are legal responsible for, the more risk. In simple terms you can’t be everywhere, but the legislation says if you run a business, and you are not a limited company,you have to know and it comes back to you personally and your licence! If you are a director of a company and they can prove you are complicit in not providing information you can still be prosecuted personally, again, take advice before entering into correspondence giving your name!

Article written by Ian Jackson – Solicitor

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