What to do if you been given a restricted license

A ‘restricted’ licence is part of the Canal and River Trust’s (CRT) new enforcement policy that was introduced and rolled out early in 2015 to cover all boats with no home moorings. The restricted licence is a licence for 6 months, as opposed to the possible full 12 months licence, and is basically a ‘last chance’ warning from CRT that they do not believe that a boater is complying with their new guidance and enforcement practice. The Canal and River Trust (CRT) issue restricted licences to a boater if they think a boater has done something ‘wrong’ like “not moving far enough” or “shuffling” based on their monitoring of the boats movements over the previous licence period. The our caseworkers believe that restricted licences are dangerous to boaters as the boater could eventually lose their home altogether. We advise people to challenge them if they think they have been treated unfairly.

The NBTA and some lawyers have stated that CRT can legally issue licenses that are less than a full year licence. This is because the law doesn’t state how long a license period has to be. However, if you accept and pay for your restricted license it doesn’t mean you have agreed that what CRT says is ‘wrong’ is wrong. Especially if you follow it up with a complaint to CRT. However, having a restricted licence can make it more likely that CRT will refuse you a licence next time you want to have your licence renewed.

Successfully challenging a restricted licence depends on a) CRT not breaking its own policies and procedures and b) proving to CRT that their sighting data is wrong or incomplete. A complaint about getting a restricted licence acts as an ‘appeal’. There is no other formal appeal process for boaters being given restricted licences.

The first thing is find out the reason why CRT has given you a restricted licence. It should say the reason on the email/letter they send you. If it doesn’t say the reason(s) or it is not clearly stated, you need to email or send a letter to CRT asking what the reason(s) that they want to give you a restricted licence. Make sure you only contact CRT using either email or letter so that everything is documented. It makes everything else easier. If you have a problem understanding what CRT is saying, then you can email nbta.london.caseworker@gmail.com or ring 07974298958 and caseworker can help you.

So far we know that CRT restricts licences for boaters they think have done one or more of the following:

Click on those that apply to you for the helpsheet and template letters.

The main point is to find out what CRT have accused you of and to find evidence to prove them wrong or that their conclusions are unreasonable. Was your overstay reasonable where they say it was unreasonable? Have they got your sightings wrong and said that you travelled less than you have or/and have they said you have had a different travel pattern than that which you had? To prove this to CRT you must have evidence to back up your claims. Therefore, ask them to give you your sighting data. A good person to email to get sighting data is Aileen.O’Connor@canalrivertrust.org.uk. More detail on what evidence you may need can be found in the links above.

As well as the possibility of CRT getting something wrong about what you did, they might not have given you a ‘fair warning’ before giving you a restricted licence.

CRT has enforcement procedures that claim to give boaters a ‘fair warning’ before enacting any enforcement action. Below is the CRT procedures for giving a restricted licence. This information has been put together from what NBTA has been sent from CRT and what CRT has put out online. It may be useful to collect evidence to show CRT has not given a ‘fair warning’ before giving you a restricted licence. If CRT has not given you ‘fair warning’ then, we recommend that you request that they therefore take to you out of enforcement as they have acted outside of their own rules.

Here are some things that might be useful to argue that CRT hasn’t given you a ‘fair warning’:

  • CRT’s Head of Customer Services, Ian Rogers has written that “CRT will get in touch about six weeks before the licence renewal date, if we’ve any concerns about a boater’s past cruising pattern.” Link here for full article Ltr_Pamela Smith_NBTA_Level 1 Complaint_26.10.2015 (1). So has CRT done that with you?

If CRT hasn’t done one or more of things then write them a letter/email to say that they haven’t given you a fair warning before issuing you a restricted licence action on you. Click here for a template  fair warning letter.

CRT might take it more seriously if you make a formal complaint. If your complaint goes far enough in the complaints procedure then it will go to the ‘independent’ Waterways Ombudsman. Click here for a template complaint letter Level 1 Complaint_Restricted licence. And here is CRT’s complaint procedure https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/contact-us/making-a-complaint

And a help sheet for writing complaints click here Advice about CRT enforcementv2 14-3-15

All of this might get your full licence back if you have a case where CRT has broken its own policies and procedures and you have good amount of evidence to back that up. However, CRT still might not reverse its original decision even after you have proven to them that they are in the wrong. Nevertheless, we still suggest that you should try it because it is possible for you to win and it can put you in a better position if you ever need to go to court. If you would like any help with any of this, you can contact a caseworker by emailing nbta.london.caseworker@gmail.com or ring 07974298958.

If CRT has acted incorrectly to you and you have shown them that and they are still saying they will restrict your licence, then the next course of action can be a campaign. A campaign could show that CRT has acted incorrectly even in their own policies and procedures. This could get your full licence back because CRT doesn’t want to seem to be an illegitimate and unreasonable organisation. If you have got to this point, email nbtalondon@gmail.com.

Please tell us how things go with CRT as the more we know about how CRT reacts to boaters, the better our advice can be. Email  nbta.london.caseworker@gmail.com or ring 07974298958.

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A Ludovic Pujol drawing

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