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Bruce Kirkpatrick v. SoS for Transport and the Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the Scottish Traffic Area, Sheriff Principal Lockhart, Dumfries Sheriff Court, 29th June 2011


Parties and Background
The respondent, Bruce Kirkpatrick, was a large goods vehicle driver for Cameron Young Transport Ltd. His licence was revoked by the second appellant, the Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC), in October 2010. Drivers were supposed to carry out double-manned journeys so that they complied with legal driving hours for large goods vehicle drivers. However, Mr Kirkpatrick logged driving hours under other drivers' names so that it appeared that legal hours had been complied with. The respondent's licence was therefore revoked by the DTC on the basis that he had falsified records and was no longer a fit or proper person to hold a licence. He was also disqualified from driving large goods vehicles for five years.
Mr Kirkpatrick appealed against this decision in the sheriff court. The sheriff quashed the decision of the DTC to disqualify Mr Kirkpatrick for five years. The sheriff directed that he be disqualified for 18 months instead. The Secretary of State for Transport and the DTC then appealed to the sheriff principal.
Parties' Submissions
The appellants argued that the sheriff should not have reduced the period of disqualification. The DTC did not act disproportionately and his decision was within the margin of discretion. A disqualification of five years was reasonable.
The respondent submitted that the DTC had taken into account allegations of further falsification that were not proven in the course of his investigation. If these speculative offences were discounted, a disqualification period of 18 months was reasonable.
The sheriff principal found for the appellants and quashed the decision of the sheriff. The appellants had relied on allegations of falsification and were wrong to do so. However, the sheriff had not taken into account evidence showing that the number of false records created was greater than he had allowed for. He had also not taken into account the way in which false records were created, namely by interfering with recording equipment. These factors merited a longer period of disqualification. The sheriff principal imposed a period of four years' disqualification, inclusive of the disqualification period that had already elapsed.