Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Serious Legal Challenge Or Publicity Stunt?

I was going to mention this story yesterday, transport being my bag and all that, but it seemed a bit anoraky (I made that word up), so I didn't. However, Mark Wadsworth has posted a light-hearted piece on it, so ...

1) The UK 'Construction and Use Regulations' are adopted from elsewhere. I could give you a guess as to who recommends that we adopt them, and you'd be surprised that it isn't, in this case, the EU.

In fact, it is the UN's Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), a body, based in Geneva, which exists to remove trade barriers between European countries. They are goodies, on the whole (if you've ever used a 'green card' for insurance purposes abroad instead of having to deal with foreign insurers, the UNECE are the ones to have thanked).

This is why I'm rather baffled as to why this business owner is calling for a test case under UK law. A better approach, and one which would likely be less costly if he could get their ear, would be to petition the UNECE to add another class of vehicle to the current recommendations. Considering that the design of this vehicle is supposed to be quite revolutionary (regarding the arrangement of axles, a determinant of maximum vehicle lengths in UNECE recommendations), this would have been a more logical first step.

But then that might not have attracted the BBC to send a camera crew as readily as an arranged confrontation with police, would it?

Which leads to 2) Why the police? There is a body paid for by our taxes to deal with transgressions and disputes surrounding heavy goods and passenger road transport.

VOSA can also bring prosecutions, they have roadside inspectors and everything. If VOSA pull you over on a motorway and deem your vehicle to have broken a C&U reg, it can issue one of six different types of prohibition notice.

We pay for the bloody sods, why not use them in this instance? Or, again, are the police more photogenic for the BBC cameras?

Sniff the publicity angle yet?

It's OK. I'm finished, you can wake up now.

Carry on.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Ta for link, but it is still not clear to me whose publicity stunt it was - Mr Denby, the manufacturer of the lorry, the lawyers, the police, or whether this was just a 'let's distract attention from the EU' type smokescreen?

Pavlov's Cat said...

I would imagine VOSA were there, after all they always have plod back-up at their check points and mobile weigh bridges ( there's also DSS staff at some of them)

Dick Puddlecote said...

MW: I'm assuming that this lorry would have cost a serious amount of money. Eye-wateringly so (well, the cost of our vehicles makes mine water, anyway).

Quite a big gamble on a test case. Denby's livery was all over it, and the owner was talking about a favourable judgement leading to a mass production of these vehicles.

Just a guess, but possibly a joint venture between Denby and the manufacturer. If C&U regs, or the UNECE, were to allow these vehicles, the potential for profit under a patent is huge.

Pavlov: Good point. By the nature of VOSA guys I have met, they wouldn't have wanted to miss this for the world. ;-)

Dick Puddlecote said...

Addendum: "If C&U regs, or the UNECE, were to allow these vehicles" they would be allowed throughtout Europe, the EFTA and the EEA. Possibly, by consequence, in Interbus and ASOR nations too.

That's a lot of big ticket lorry sales.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DP, sure, in the short term the manufacturer would stand to gain, but all the other lorry manufacturers would just start making big lorries as well.

To learn a lesson from the EU, the manufacturer only makes a long term gain if he can raise barriers to entry so that he, and only he, is allowed to manufacture them.

Dick Puddlecote said...

I think the fact that the whole thing only works because the axles on the rear trailer are able to be steered too could be the key (the BBC showed coverage of the superb turning circle today - Denby even let one of their reporters drive it to illustrate).

If that is patented, any lorry manufactured the same way will have to pay for the use of the technology.

Or, that's how I understand it works. I know transport, but not necessarily patent law. :-)