Illegal cabotage leads to refusal to return truck

A Romanian haulage company has failed in its attempt to have an impounded truck released after the traffic commissioner (TC) found it had previously been warned about illegal cabotage operations. JIP International claimed it had not received a DVSA letter warning it against continued illegal cabotage after one of its vehicles was directed out of the UK in March 2019. A traffic examiner impounded a lorry belonging to the firm in November 2019 after documents revealed it was performing its fifth cabotage operation since completing its incoming international journey in the UK eight days previously.

Regulations state that once goods on an incoming international journey are delivered, the operator may carry out up to three cabotage operations within seven days. At a Birmingham hearing, JIP’s general manager, Zhalba Petar, told TC Nick Denton that he had not received a letter from the DVSA in April 2019 warning him about illegal cabotage. The TC said it was possible the letter had gone astray, due to a spelling error in the town’s name.

However, the DVSA’s traffic examiner said that when the firm’s lorry was directed out of the UK in March, the driver would have been given paperwork explaining why it was breaking the rules. Petar told the TC his vehicle was a tractor unit and had been picking up trailers that had arrived from mainland Europe by ship at Tilbury and taking them to UK destinations. In his view, these were international journeys and not cabotage.

But TC Denton considered previous decisions on this subject, which stated that a trailer can only take part in international carriage if it is coupled to a tractor unit. Summing up, the TC said any company engaged in international haulage should be familiar with cabotage rules and JIP would have been in no doubt that picking up unaccompanied trailers from ports was cabotage work. He refused the application and commented: “The company had already been informed in March that what it was doing was illegal.

“This decision will be notified to the applicant and to DVSA and it will be for DVSA to dispose of the vehicle once the 28 day period for appeal has ended

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