Beverley Bell, the North West of England traffic commissioner, has reminded operators that there must be "absolute transparency" when it comes to who is running vehicles under a licence.
Her message comes after an operator was given 28 days – following a public inquiry – to confirm which entity was operating its vehicles.
Directors of the company named on the licence had "one opportunity only" to provide clarity to her office.
"I want to know who I give the discs to, I want to know who is operating the vehicles and I want to know who the drivers work for," she remarked at the conclusion of the hearing.
"When I issue those discs, it says to the world at large that these vehicles and drivers are safe. There has to be absolute transparency as to who the operator of the vehicles is."
Statutory guidance issued by the senior traffic commissioner makes it clear that any business holding a licence must be the entity responsible for running the vehicles under it.
The advice also emphasises the importance of a commissioner knowing exactly who they have issued a licence to.
When a change of entity occurs, the new business has to make an application for a licence in its own right – for example, where a partnership ceases and a limited company is formed.
Operators who continue their business under a dissolved or insolvent entity are running illegally and this will be taken into consideration if any new application is subsequently made.
In this case, Bell sought clarity on which company was ultimately operating the authorised vehicles. A new application would have to be submitted urgently, she added, if the unlicensed business wanted to operate the vehicles.
The Commissioner considered evidence from the transport manager and looked at maintenance records during the hearing. She was satisfied there was no undue risk to road safety or fair competition in allowing the company 28 days to provide confirmation to her office.