The office of the traffic commissioner’s (OTC) decision to publish the outcomes of driver conduct hearings is “a serious GDPR breach” and could result in legal action being taken, according to a lawyer.

Jonathon Backhouse, director at Backhouse Jones, said “sooner or later” a professional driver would sue the OTC for publishing the results of the hearings, as well as the driver’s name, date of birth, postcode and date of the hearing.

The OTC announced in June it had started publishing the outcomes of hearings and it followed “widespread approval for this information in responses to a consultation in 2019".

At the time it said that the TCs were complying with data protection rules: “Publishing this information will make it easier for operators to find out if a driver has been subject to regulatory action,” it said.

“This will help them to ensure that they do not use drivers who have not declared any action taken by a TC against their vocational entitlement to their employers.

“The traffic commissioners have ensured they comply with data protection principles when publishing this data.”

So far, the names and details of more than 100 drivers have been published, alongside the TCs’ decisions.

But Backhouse questioned whether this was lawful: “It sounds to be a serious GDPR breach because they are not supposed to be public hearings,” he said.

“Sooner or later, a driver will probably take them to court over that.”

An OTC spokeswoman said the industry had been requesting driver conduct hearing information for some time “to reduce the risk that drivers, who are subject to action that affects their legal right to drive, fail to advise employers and continue to drive.”

She said: “This is an important road safety consideration.

“Although Sections 113 and 116 of the 1988 Act are silent on the process for driver conduct hearings, traffic commissioners seek to regulate in an open and transparent manner.

“When consulting on changes to the Statutory Document in 2019, the traffic commissioners requested feedback on the value of making the process more transparent and all respondents agreed the value of that principle with all issues fully considered as part of the consultation exercise.

“Traffic Commissioners considered the law and have taken appropriate advice.”

The OTC spokeswoman added: “Furthermore, we understand the need for some legal representatives to publicise their practices, but it is the commissioners’ considered opinion that this is not the appropriate forum for legal argument, particularly where the provision is fully compliant and answers the needs of operators and drivers.”