Port Metro Trucking License System Unfair, Court Rules

 In Current Disputes, News, Transport News

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A group of Port Metro Vancouver container truck drivers who were denied licenses to haul cargo in and out of port terminals won their case in Federal Court arguing that the selection process was unfair and their applications should be reconsidered.

Unless Port Metro Vancouver appeals the decision, it means the port will have to issue additional new licenses to applicants representing about 200 trucks.

In his reasons for judgment, judge Robert Barnes ruled that Port Metro Vancouver’s process of evaluating and scoring license applications in batches and on a points system that saw later applicants held to a higher standard than earlier applicants was “procedurally unfair.”

“The only practical means of overcoming the breach of fairness in this situation without unduly interfering with the interests of third parties, is to order (Port Metro Vancouver) to reconsider the applicants’ applications,” Barnes wrote, and award licenses to any applicants that met the first benchmark.

Barnes also awarded costs to the group of failed applicants, which were companies representing 250 to 260 licenses and drivers.

In an emailed statement, port spokesman John Parker-Jervis said that Port Metro Vancouver will “review the Federal Court of Canada’s decision and consider our next steps.”

Port Metro Vancouver brought the new licensing system in as part of the agreement to end last year’s 28-day work stoppage by drivers at port terminals, which ground almost to a halt the local delivery of containers.

The system was aimed at cutting the number of trucks hauling containers to about 1,500 from the 2,000 that were licensed under the previous system as a way to reduce competition that was leading to the undercutting of rates being paid to drivers.

Port Metro Vancouver in December set out new selection criteria to reduce the number of trucks and fast-tracked implementation of the new licensing system, Parker-Jervis said in the statement, in order to meet a Feb. 1 deadline to have it in place.

In doing so, port officials raised the benchmark for awarding the licenses from four points in the first round to as high as six points in later rounds. That meant that later applicants were denied although they scored more points in the evaluation system than the first to be accepted, which Barnes ruled made the process unfair.

“Most (petitioners) should get their licenses,” said Gurpreet Badh, the lawyer who represented Goodrich Transport Ltd., which applied for 20 of the tags and, after their application was denied, suffered significant losses in their business of trans-loading lumber from rail to containers and delivering them to terminals for export.

“They’re thrilled,” Badh said of his clients.

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