Will EC change define S19 exemption?

An amendment to The European 1071/2009 regulation which currently offers the ‘non-commercial’ exemption on which Section 19 permit use depends may effectively prevent permit holders making any charges for their services.

Originally drafted in 2017, the amendment is expected to be accepted by the European Parliament next April and may come into force in late 2021. It clarifies the ‘non-commercial’ exemption by adding a paragraph which appears to exclude any paid-for service.

However, while the Bus & Coach Association believes this amendment may prove a challenge to S19 operators, the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s International Manager, Steven Salmon, believes otherwise.

The EC amendment – part of a draft chiefly aimed at road haulage – adds a paragraph to the original exemption. It now reads:

‘… undertakings engaged in road passenger transport services exclusively for non-commercial purposes or which have a main occupation other than that of road passenger transport operator.

Any carriage by road for which no remuneration is received and which does not create any income, such as carriage of persons for charity purposes or for strictly private use, is to be considered as carriage exclusively for non-commercial purposes.’

“Does the addition of the second paragraph make any difference to the position of permit operations in the UK?” said Steven Salmon. “Probably not. It gives an example of operations to be treated as ‘for non-commercial purposes’ but does not rule out other activities being regarded as non-commercial.

“I do not believe that anything in the recent JR judgement will be superseded by this change to the relevant EU Regulation. The UK will have had an opportunity to influence this text from the Council side, and will have been aware of the ramifications of the changes.”

Steven said, however, that Brexit may not undermine its effect: “As I understand it, the withdrawal agreement commits the UK to adopt changes to EU law that take effect during the Transition Period. The Transition Period may end on 20 December 2020, but may be longer.”

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