Authorised Inspection Stations
Transport for NSW relies upon the Authorised Inspection Scheme (AIS) to ensure that vehicles meet minimum safety standards. The scheme authorises mechanics who have undertaken special training to inspect vehicles for compliance with safety standards. These inspections are primarily used for the periodic inspection of vehicles in the registration process or to clear vehicle defect notices. In order to ensure that only qualified and suitable people are able to perform vehicle inspections, Transport for NSW has broad powers over the registration process. In certain circumstances, Transport for NSW can refuse to issue, cancel or suspend a person’s AIS authorisation. If your AIS authorisation has been cancelled or suspended you should seek legal advice because an appeal can be lodged against such a decision. In that case, a Magistrate of a Local Court will decide whether or not the decision is valid.
What are the Different Types of AIS Authorisations?
There are four different types of AIS inspection stations:
- Authorised Safety Check Inspection Station (ASCIS) – this station can inspect light vehicles.
- Authorised Unregistered Vehicle Inspection Station (AUVIS) – this station can inspect unregistered light vehicles.
- Heavy Vehicle Authorised Inspection Station (HVAIS) – this station can inspect heavy vehicles.
- Authorised Crane Inspection Station (ACIS) – this station can inspect SP2 cranes.
There are different roles that a person can hold within these stations:
- Examiners ‐ an examiner is authorised to conduct tests and inspections of vehicles to determine whether they are safe and comply with the standards
- Proprietors ‐ a proprietor is authorised to use premises to perform inspections.
A person can hold multiple types of AIS authorities at the same time (for example, they can be a proprietor and examiner, and could also be authorised under ASCIS and AUVIS at the same time).
What are the Obligations on Examiners and Proprietors?
If you are operating as an examiner or proprietor, there are heavy penalties if you do not follow the rules:
- Conducting examinations without authority to do so. It is a contravention of the rules if you inspect a vehicle and you are not licensed to conduct inspections, or if you inspect a vehicle other than the type of vehicle that you are licensed to inspect.
- Issuing false and misleading inspection reports. It is a contravention if you knowingly issue a vehicle inspection report.
It is also possible Transport for NSW would consider taking action on the licences of the examiner or proprietor.
When Can Transport for NSW Suspend or Cancel an AIS Authorisation?
Transport for NSW can suspend or cancel an AIS authorisation if the holder:
- has failed to comply with a condition to which the AIS authority is subject;
- is not a fit and proper person to continue to hold the AIS authority;
- is not of suitable character.
If a person holds multiple authorisations, Transport for NSW can choose to cancel or suspend all or only some of the authorities. For example, Transport for NSW might suspend a person’s proprietor authority but allow them to keep their examiner authority.
Notice to Show Cause
Before cancelling or suspending an AIS authority, Transport for NSW must ordinarily serve the person with a “Notice to Show Cause”. This is a letter explaining Transport for NSW’s planned action and giving the person the opportunity to explain why their AIS authority should not be cancelled or suspended.
Transport for NSW will proceed to suspend or cancel the AIS authority if:
- the person fails to respond within 21 days; or
- if the person’s response does not satisfy the RMS that the action is not warranted.
The Transport for NSW is not required to issue a Notice to Show Cause if they suspect that the person has wilfully failed to comply with the AIS rules and is likely to commit a further breach of the rules. In that case, Transport for NSW can suspend or cancel the AIS authority immediately.
A Notice to Show Cause should be taken very seriously. If you receive one you should consider your response very carefully because anything you write to Transport for NSW at this stage will be used to decide whether or not to cancel or suspend your AIS authority. If an appeal if necessary your response will be considered by the Court in considering whether the Transport for NSW decision should stand. If you make admissions, they can be used against you later.
Alternatively, if you fail to admit breaches this can also be used as evidence that you are not “fit and proper”. Determining the best way to respond involves careful analysis and experience. It is best to seek legal advice at this early stage.
What Notice Does Transport for NSW Have to Give if it Decides to Cancel Or Suspend an AIS Authority?
When a response to the Notice to Show Cause has been received or 21 days has passed without a response, Transport for NSW refers the matter to the Committee of Review. The committee considers all Transport for NSW material as well as the response provided and recommends actions to be taken. However, Transport for NSW is not bound to follow any of these recommendations. If it decides to suspend or cancel an authority, it must notify the holder of the AIS authority in writing. The notification must explain why the action is being taken.
The suspension or cancellation will usually take effect 21 days after written notification is given. However, the suspension or cancellation can take effect immediately if Transport for NSW suspects that the person has wilfully failed to comply with the AIS rules and is likely to commit a further breach of the rules.
Can I Appeal Against the Cancellation or Suspension of AIS Authorities?
Yes, you can appeal to the Local Court against the suspension or cancellation of your AIS authority. A magistrate will then hear the matter. The magistrate can make the following orders:
- Allow the appeal – this means that you can keep your AIS authority;
- Dismiss your appeal – this means that the suspension or cancellation stands;
- Vary the Transport for NSW decision – for example, by reducing the period of suspension or imposing conditions on the return of your AIS authority.
How Long do I Have to Lodge the Appeal?
If your authority has been suspended or cancelled you need to act quickly. Any appeal to the Local Court must be lodged within 28 days of notification of the suspension or cancellation. The law assumes you received the letter 4 working days after it is posted, even if that is not the case. If you miss the lodgment date you will not be able to appeal the decision.
Can I Keep Operating Under My AIS Authority Pending the Appeal?
Once an appeal is filed with the court, the decision to cancel or suspend your AIS authority is stayed. That means that you can continue to operate until the court makes its decision.
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.