National haulier wins appeal against traffic commissioner
29 November 2022 – Written by Mark Salisbury
Upper Court Judge Hemmingway has today, 29th November 2022, overturned the Government Traffic Commissioner decision not to grant a license to REL Haulage Ltd, finding the original decision to have been unfair.
The Upper Tribunal found that the Public Inquiry conducted by Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton was unfair to REL Haulage and to one of its shareholders, entrepreneur Andy Scott, who was effectively put on trial in his absence. Hemmingway ordered the unlawful decision immediately be set aside and overturned.
This is the 19th successful appeal against transport Commissioner Denton’s decisions, whose wording was criticised for being unwise and unhelpful. Shortly after making this unlawful decision, which was overturned on all grounds, Denton was appointed by the government as a Senior Aviation panel Judge, whilst retaining a Deputy Transport Commissioner role.
Andy Scott has separately applied to the High Court personally for Judicial Review against The Secretary of State for Transport, which will now proceed for permission hearing and scheduled for January, also applying for a substantial costs applications against the Government.
REL Haulage Ltd is part of the REL Capital group of business, run by turnaround investor Andy Scott, which includes a fleet of 55 heavy goods vehicles operated from a its 200,000 sq ft warehouse and distribution facility in Peterborough. The group also has number of London coach operators and operates the established Redwing, Davian and John James Travel brands.
Leading human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson KC acting for Andy Scott said: “Mr Scott has suffered a grave injury to his reputation and right to privacy, protected by Article 6 and Article 8 of the convention on Human Rights Act by The traffic commissioner’s unfair and unlawful decision. He was not in fact on trial but was effectively put on trial in his absence.
“It would appear Mr Denton’s personal opinion of Mr Scott investment model of rescuing failing companies clouded his decision. It is a fundamental principle of Law that decision-takers should ‘hear the other side’, the traffic commissioner was not entitled to make adverse findings against Mr Scott who was not allowed a fair opportunity to respond to or refute the allegations against him which also proved to be fundamentally wrong”.
Simon Clarke, transport barrister acting for REL Haulage told the Upper Tribunal that “The original Traffic Commissioner’s decision of January 2022 was plainly wrong, fatally flawed and appeared to have been based on incorrect research. The Traffic Commissioner unlawfully pierced the corporate veil making judgement against shareholders.”
Andy Scott, chairman of REL Capital, said: “The whole process overseen by the Transport Commissioner has been unfair, unprofessional and – as it turns out – unlawful. Rather than conducting a fair and transparent review of our turnaround businesses, the Commissioner has instead undertaken an extensive smear campaign, made no attempt at impartiality and has caused me significant reputational damage.
“His decision has affected everything, from banks, suppliers and partners not wanting to work with us on new deals. Added to that; trying to get a judge’s decision overturned has been incredibly tough when I wasn’t even a party to the proceedings. I’m so pleased we stuck at it and the Upper Tribunal has ruled the Traffic Commissioner’s decision to be unlawful, unfair and overturned on every ground, despite the huge costs which we will now seek to reclaim from Government.
“I’m proud to invest in some of the management teams of leading UK transport companies we have helped turnaround, including three of the leading London coach operators and will continue to do so.”