Reigate taxi

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Taxi and private hire services

TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE SERVICES
To the Right Honourable Chris Grayling, MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of
State for Justice
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
THE RATIONALE FOR REGULATING TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE SERVICES
1.1 Taxi and private hire services are an essential aspect of the transport network in
England and Wales. They are essential for many passengers with disabilities and
residents of rural communities, and play an important social role in enhancing the
public transport system and facilitating social inclusion. The taxi and private hire
sectors are also an important part of the British economy. In 2012, UK
households spent about £2.7 billion on taxi and private hire journeys.1
London’s
taxis are consistently ranked as the best in the world and have become an
international benchmark in excellence.2
1.2 As at the end of March 2013, there were approximately 78,000 taxis and 153,000
private hire vehicles in England and Wales, and nearly 300,000 licensed taxi and
private vehicle drivers.3
An estimated 138,000 people used taxis or minicabs in
2011 to travel to work,4
with much higher usage evident outside London.
1.3 Notwithstanding the growth and evolution of the taxi industry since the first
regulation of hackney carriages in the 1600s, the main legal framework governing
taxi services has not undergone any significant reform for nearly 200 years.
Private hire services legislation is more recent, dating from 1976 in most of
England and Wales and 1998 in London. Nevertheless, even this comparatively
modern legislation struggles to keep up with the radical changes which the
internet has introduced in the way customers book private hire services. Although

We estimate that £2.72 billion was spent by UK households on taxi journeys in 2012 based
on ONS estimates of household expenditure on transport services of £7.78 billion for the
same period. The £7.78 billion covers transport by bus, coach, taxi and hire car with
driver). See http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/datasets-and-tables/dataselector.html?cdid=ADWI&dataset=ct&table-id=07.CN (last visited 19 May 2014). The
ONS no longer segregates the data relating to expenditure on taxi fares. Our estimate
relating to the share of expenditure relating to taxi fares is consistent with the ONS 2010
estimate of £2.585 billion in UK household expenditure on taxi fares. For detailed
consideration of the taxi and private hire industry revenue, see our impact assessment,
available from our project page at http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/areas/taxi-andprivate-hire-services.htm.

See http://www.london-taxis.co.uk/jsp/index.jsp?id=164&lnk=710 (last visited 19 May
2014).

Department for Transport, Taxi and Private Hire Statistics 2013, at
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/226355/taxiprivate-hire-statistics-2013.pdf (last visited 19 May 2014).

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_299766.pdf, p 3 (last visited 19 May 2014).

there are over 340 licensing areas across England and Wales and many taxi and
private hire journeys cross their borders, licensing officers have no cross-border
enforcement powers. Nor are there any common national standards. Key
matters, such as whether drivers have disability awareness training, or what
types of criminal convictions should disqualify a person from working as a driver,
are left purely to local decision-making, resulting in a very variable national
picture.
1.4 The piecemeal evolution of the regulation of taxi and private hire services has,
moreover, resulted in a complex and fragmented licensing system. The
relationship between taxi and private hire services is not clearly defined. The
balance struck between national and local rules lacks an overarching rationale,
resulting in duplication, inconsistencies and considerable difficulties in crossborder enforcement. Mobile phones and the internet have revolutionised both the
taxi and private hire trades, yet regulation has failed to keep pace. The outdated
legislative framework has become too extensive in some respects, imposing
unnecessary burdens on business and artificially restricting the range of services
available to consumers; and insufficiently comprehensive in other ways,
undermining the fundamental goal of protecting the travelling public.
1.5 In this report we make recommendations for the reform of the law relating to taxis
and private hire services in England and Wales. This report is published
alongside a draft Taxi and Private Hire Services Bill which gives effect to many of
our recommendations,5
and an impact assessment setting out the costs and
benefits of our recommendations.6
THE BACKGROUND TO THIS PROJECT
1.6 Work on this project started in the summer of 2011, as part of the Law
Commission’s Eleventh Programme of law reform. The project had originally
been proposed by the Department for Transport, which has policy responsibility
in this area. Members of the Law Commission team have met regularly at each
stage of the project with Department for Transport officials.
1.7 Our terms of reference were to review the law relating to the regulation of taxis
and private hire vehicles with a view to its modernisation and simplification,
having due regard to the potential advantages of deregulation in reducing the
burdens on business and increasing economic efficiency.
THE CONSULTATION
1.8 At the beginning of the project we held an advisory group meeting with key
stakeholders giving us practical and technical insights, to assist us in preparing
our provisional proposals for consultation.7
In May 2012 we published a
5
The draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill is contained in Appendix A to this report.
Some of our recommendations do not require legislative changes and instead relate to the
exercise of powers granted to the Secretary of State in setting national standards, for
example, or they invite certain courses of action to be considered further (as in respect of
systems to pool licensing fees, or in respect of information sharing for example).

See www.lawcom.gov.uk/areas/taxi-and-private-hire-services.htm.

See Appendix C for a list of members of the Advisory Group and of the Expert Panel on
Plying for Hire.

consultation paper setting out our provisional proposals.8
We undertook a very
thorough consultation between May and October 2012, although we continued to
accept responses after this date. We received over 3000 written responses,
including over 800 replies to a survey undertaken by the Private Hire and Taxi
Monthly magazine based on our provisional proposals. Respondents ranged from
individuals to representative organisations, including taxi and private hire drivers
and private hire operators, licensing officers, disability groups, specialist
consultants, trade unions and the police.9
1.9 We attended 85 consultation meetings across England and Wales, meeting
thousands of stakeholders. These ranged from small meetings to large-scale
conferences, at which we met drivers, operators, licensing officers, local
authorities, transport users and the police. Following consultation we were also
assisted by some very helpful discussions with experts in the field, including a
legal panel on plying for hire.10
1.10 Disabled access groups were also very involved in our consultation. We
participated in various Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (a
governmental advisory body) meetings throughout the project, as well as focus
groups telling us about local issues. The project team participated in a
demonstration of loading and unloading a wheelchair, and visited several
locations with poor accessibility in the company of local disability organisations,
enabling us to see examples of the difficulties faced by disabled passengers on a
daily basis.
1.11 We also recognised the importance of public service vehicle licensing regulation
to our work, and held meetings with Traffic Commissioners and the Driver and
Vehicle Standards Agency11 at different stages of the project.
1.12 We undertook various site visits, including at major taxi radio circuits and private
hire operators’ headquarters. We toured with the taxi and private hire trades both
inside and outside London, observing ranks and entertainment venues with a
history of enforcement difficulties. This also impressed upon us the very local and
case-specific nature of the problems encountered.
1.13 In order better to understand the realities of enforcement, we participated in
licensing officer training sessions, as well as a vehicle inspection workshop at
Knowsley Community College arranged by Liverpool City Council. We also
observed night enforcement operations in Liverpool during the University’s
“Freshers’ Week” (at the start of the academic year, and a notoriously busy
enforcement period) and in London, accompanying Transport for London’s Taxi
and Private Hire licensing enforcement officers. We also observed a Metropolitan
Police enforcement operation with a focus on touting. We were also shown night
time enforcement issues (such as touting and unofficial ranks) in Birmingham by
8
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, available at http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/docs/cp203_taxi-andprivate-hire-services.pdf.
9
The written responses we received are available online at
http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/areas/taxi-and-private-hire-services.htm.
10 See Appendix C for a list of members of the Expert Panel on Plying for Hire.
11 Formerly the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency.

the trades and a licensing officer.
1.14 We are extremely grateful for the high degree of involvement and interest in our
project, which has put our ideas, formal and informal, through rigorous scrutiny
and challenge, and made an invaluable contribution to shaping this report. We
were particularly fortunate in having so many taxi and private hire drivers talk to
us about their work and share their ideas for change and practical insights. We
also had very informative exchanges through participating in online forums, such
as Taxi Driver Online.12
WALES
1.15 In the consultation paper, we set out our view that legislative competence in
respect of the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles was devolved under the
Government of Wales Act 2006.13 That view was reflected in our preliminary
proposals. However, since that time it has become apparent that Welsh Ministers
consider the legal position to be too unclear to support that conclusion. In light of
that, we proceed for the purposes of this report on the basis that legislative
competence in respect of the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles is not
devolved and that the relevant functions will be exercised by the Secretary of
State in relation to all of England and Wales.
THE STRUCTURE OF THIS REPORT
1.16 We have taken a root and branch approach to recasting the current law of taxi
and private hire services, introducing a single new statutory regulatory framework
covering both taxi and private hire services throughout England and Wales, but at
the same time maintaining the fundamental characteristics of both trades. Our
Consultation Paper described the current law and background to the project in
some detail.14 In this Report, we set out the key elements of the new proposed
scheme, and describe how it compares to existing law.
SUMMARY OF PRINCIPAL RECOMMENDATIONS
1.17 Our recommendations include significant changes to the current law, but in most
areas they would have the effect of consolidating and simplifying existing rules.
The purpose of the reforms is to achieve a single legal framework covering both
taxis and private hire services, while maintaining important differences in the way
they are regulated. Our reformed framework would continue to be administered
by local authorities, as is currently the case. We discuss this in Chapter 10.
Retaining the two tier system (Chapter 2)
1.18 We recommend retaining the current two tier system of regulation. This
distinguishes between taxis, which can be hailed or can use taxi ranks, as well as
undertaking pre-booked journeys, and private hire vehicles, which can only be
engaged by way of a pre-booking. It is our view that this structure promotes
12 See http://www.taxi-driver.co.uk/ (last visited 19 May 2014).
13 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, para 1.60.
14 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203.
5
consumer choice and the provision of a wide range of services. Furthermore, the
different ways in which taxis and private hire vehicles are engaged make different
levels of regulation appropriate, so that a single system would lead to over or
under-regulation.
Defining taxi and private hire services (Chapter 3)
1.19 Although we recommend retaining the two tier system, we also propose
significant changes to the way in which the legal distinction between the two tiers
should be drawn. The current system relies heavily on the imprecise concept of
“plying for hire”, which performs the very important function of defining what taxis
alone are allowed to do in undertaking rank and hail work. However, the meaning
of the concept is not set out in statute and has become the subject of a body of
case-law that is not wholly consistent. Technological developments increasing
the possibility of near-immediate bookings have made it even less practicable to
apply. Furthermore, there is no statutory definition of a pre-booking.
1.20 The growing number of grey areas led many stakeholders to question the
continuing viability of a two-tier system of separate regulation of taxis and private
hire vehicles. We convened a panel of legal experts including barristers, solicitors
and licensing officers, to help us consider reform options in respect of “plying for
hire”; we have concluded that the law should move away from using plying for
hire as a key concept.
1.21 Although the legal terminology that we propose is different, none of our
recommendations are intended either to restrict the ability of a taxi to carry out
the activity known as plying for hire, or to open it up to the private hire trade.
Instead, in Chapter 3, we propose stating more precisely the requirements for
lawful private hire activity: private hire services should continue only to be
available on a pre-booked basis, dispatched by a licensed operator. Our draft Bill
defines a lawful private hire booking as one for which records meeting prescribed
requirements are kept, and where advance price information is available on
request. By contrast, customers would continue to be able to approach or hail a
taxi for a journey beginning there and then with no need for any arrangements in
advance.
1.22 We recommend retaining the concept of compellability (the obligation to carry a
passenger), but extending it such that a taxi may be compellable to a distance of
seven miles past the boundary of its licensing area. We also recommend that
where a taxi signals its availability it should be subject to a duty to stop when
hailed if safe to do so.
Cross-border working (Chapter 3)
1.23 Cross-border working was a major issue during consultation. Although many
stakeholders believed that private hire vehicles could not pick up passengers
outside the area in which they hold a licence, this is not the case. There are only
two geographical restrictions on how private hire services can work. First, the
driver, vehicle and operator must all be licensed in the same area: provided that
this condition is satisfied, the journey can begin and/or end elsewhere. Second,
the operator can only invite and accept bookings within that licensing area. This
hampers them expanding their business to have offices in neighbouring areas,
and is increasingly difficult to police given the rise in internet bookings.
6
1.24 We recommend freeing up cross-border working for private hire services.
Operators should no longer be limited to using drivers and vehicles from their
own licensing area; nor should they be restricted to only inviting or accepting
bookings within that licensing area. Under our recommended regulatory
framework, licensing district boundaries lose much of their importance in relation
to private hire vehicles. Although local authorities will continue to administer
licences applied for in their area, they will do so on the basis of national
standards, which they will have no discretion to vary. Once licensed, providers
will be able to work across England and Wales and subject to enforcement action
by officers of any licensing authority.
1.25 We do not propose any changes to the geographical aspects of the way taxis
work: they will still only be allowed to stand at ranks and accept hails within the
area in which they are licensed; they will continue to be allowed to undertake a
pre-booked journey starting within or outside that area. Our proposed reforms
address a cross-border issue that arises in relation to taxis, in that we have heard
complaints of problems with taxis seeking licences in an area known for lower
standards or lower licensing fees with a view to undertaking pre-booked work
elsewhere, sometimes in areas whose standards the vehicle or driver does not
meet. Whilst this is within the law, it undermines aspects of the regulatory
system.
1.26 Our recommendations will reduce the incentive to engage in this practice
because a common core of minimum standards for taxis will exist at national
level; we expect these to govern the most important aspects of driver and vehicle
standards. In respect of those standards, taxis will be subject to the enforcement
jurisdiction of enforcement officers anywhere.
Definitions and scope (Chapter 4)
1.27 Under current law, different legislation applies to London, Plymouth and the
remainder of England and Wales respectively. We recommend that the new
legislation should apply throughout England and Wales, including London. There
has been general support for this, subject to the proviso that the framework is
sufficiently flexible to account for the significantly different features of London.
1.28 The terminology used in current taxi legislation is outdated and archaic
references to the stage coaches and stage carriages have led to confusion as to
whether pedicabs can be regulated as taxis.15 Private hire legislation covers
vehicles provided for hire with the services of a driver for the purpose of carrying
passengers,16 but there is uncertainty as to whether the provision of transport as
part of a wider service, such as childminding, falls within the scope of private hire
vehicle licensing.
1.29 Uncertainty over the borderline between private hire regulation and the regulation
of public service vehicles (which generally covers larger vehicles such as buses
and minibuses), has also led to difficulties over the regulation of limousines and
15 Pedicabs, steered and propelled like a bicycle but having passenger seats in addition,
have become increasingly common in London, where it has been held that they constitute
stage carriage outside the scope of taxi regulation: see Chapter 4 below, para 4.16.
16 Local Government Act 1976, s 80(1); Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s1(1)(a).
7
novelty vehicles. The issues relate both to which regime these vehicles should
currently be regulated under, as this is not always clear and has led to some
services escaping regulation altogether, and which regime would be more
appropriate under a reformed system.
1.30 As regards the substantive scope of the legislation, we propose that taxi and
private hire regulation and licensing should cover the use of a vehicle to carry
one or more passengers, where the vehicle and driver have been hired for that
purpose. The draft Bill provides an exception for transport provided as part of a
wider service, such as that provided in hotel courtesy cars or by carers, and of
transport provided in connection with weddings and funerals, which is already
exempted from regulation. Significantly, we propose bringing “stretch limousines”
and other novelty vehicles clearly within private hire regulation. The same is true
of pedicabs, which are already regulated as taxis outside London, but will fall
within taxi licensing in London for the first time, pursuant to our reforms.
1.31 We also make recommendations to clarify what vehicles and services should be
subject to licensing obligations. We do this both by clarifying the boundaries of
the regulated activity and by providing a system for exempting certain vehicles
and services. The reference to “hire” in our Bill limits the regulation to commercial
activities, thus excluding informal car sharing arrangements where any financial
contribution is limited to a share of expenses.
Common national standards for vehicles, drivers and dispatchers (Chapter
5 and 7)
1.32 Currently, standards for taxis and private hire vehicles and drivers and private
hire operators are set by local authorities, which are responsible for the
administration of the licensing system. This leads to substantial regional variation,
even in such critical areas as the treatment of past criminal convictions and
medical conditions. It can have a very restrictive effect on business, by making it
difficult to be licensed in more than one area as a means of expanding one’s
business.
1.33 Under our recommended reforms, licensing authorities would retain responsibility
for issuing licences and for enforcement. However, a key innovation that we
propose is the introduction of national standards for taxi and private hire vehicle
licensing. These standards would relate to drivers, vehicles and dispatchers (as
our draft Bill calls operators). The content of national standards should be
determined by the Secretary of State further to a statutory consultation with
specified stakeholders including the trades, regulators and disability groups. We
are recommending that national standards should promote defined purposes,
namely public safety, accessibility, matters relevant to the enforcement of the
legislation and environmental protection. In respect of private hire services,
national standards should entirely replace locally-set conditions. In respect of taxi
services, by contrast, we recommend that national standards should be capable
of being supplemented at local level.
Criminal offences specific to the trades (Chapter 6)
1.34 In this chapter we propose the reform of the often outdated legislation creating
criminal offences committed in the course of taxi and private hire work. We
propose the abolition of a number of out of date offences; in place of them we
8
propose a more streamlined set of offences contained in our draft Bill together
with reliance on the general criminal law or on licence conditions. We propose
that the Secretary of State have the power to designate the most important
nationally set standards so that breach of them will be a criminal offence.
Local taxi standards and taxi fare regulation (Chapters 8 and 9)
1.35 In Chapter 8 we discuss how standards could continue to be set locally in respect
of taxi services. In Chapter 9 we make recommendations in respect of taxi fare
regulation. In general these retain the current system of leaving fares to the
discretion of the local authority, with taxi drivers able to charge more than the
metered fare where a journey begins inside the licensing area but ends beyond
the compellable distance, provided the higher fare is agreed and recorded in
advance. However, we recommend that licensing authorities should not have
power to regulate third party booking fees which are agreed in advance, as these
represent a genuinely competitive aspect of taxis working in the pre-booked
market.
Administration (Chapter 10)
1.36 In this Chapter we outline our proposal that the administration of the licensing
regime and enforcement should continue to be carried out at local level by
licensing authorities. We make a number of proposals for streamlining
enforcement and improving co-operation between licensing authorities.
Quantity restrictions (Chapter 11)
1.37 Local authorities currently have the power to limit the number of taxi vehicle
licences issued in their area. In doing so, they must not leave significant unmet
demand for taxis within the area.17
1.38 Quantity controls have been another particularly controversial issue within the
project. We initially provisionally proposed that local authorities should lose the
ability to limit the number of taxis licensed in their area on the basis that it could
be left to the market to determine the appropriate number of vehicles. The
majority of evidence received during consultation and further comparative
research have led us to change this key recommendation so as to allow licensing
authorities to continue to limit taxi numbers. We do not regard the current
statutory criterion of “unmet demand” as appropriate and instead suggest a test
based on the public interest, combined with procedural requirements such as a
review every three years and a duty to consult.
1.39 Whilst we accept that quantity controls can be a positive regulatory tool for
licensing authorities, when exercised in accordance with the public interest and
appropriate safeguards, they have the undesirable side-effect of creating a
barrier to entry. The vehicle licence can be transferred with the vehicle, giving
licensed vehicles an inflated value. In areas where quantity restrictions exist, the
value of licences traded in this way varies but can be as high as £120,000, a
considerable sum for an incoming driver to fund. We recommend that there
should be no changes to the transferability of licence plates in areas that
currently have quantity restrictions, so that licence holders who may themselves
17 Transport Act 1985, s 16.
9
have invested a considerable amount of money to purchase the licence, or
otherwise reasonably expected their “plate” to have accrued substantial value,
would not be negatively impacted by our reforms. On the other hand, taxi
licences in areas which first introduce quantity restrictions only after our reforms
should not be tradeable. This would prevent new plate values from arising in
areas which introduce quantity restrictions only after implementation of our
reforms.
Equality and accessibility (Chapter 12)
1.40 Although the general provisions of the Equality Act 2010 applicable to service
providers apply to taxi and private hire services, it is clear that disabled
passengers continue to suffer severe difficulties in obtaining and using these
services. Furthermore, variable national standards in relation to driver training
and vehicle specifications mean that passengers may have very different
experiences from one area to another.
1.41 One of our key provisional proposals to promote equality and accessibility was
that private hire and taxi drivers should be required to undergo recognised
disability awareness training. This received unanimous support, and statistics
published by the Department for Transport show that it is far from a universal
requirement in current local licensing conditions. Lack of such training means that
some drivers may be less likely to be aware of the needs and rights of disabled
passengers; this can contribute to unacceptable practices, for example ignoring
their attempts to hail a vehicle, carrying them in an unsafe manner, refusing to
carry them at all or charging extra for the service. Our proposals give licensing
authorities the power to introduce a new duty to stop when hailed, associated
with compellability to help address the problem of drivers ignoring disabled
passengers. Our recommendations to make complaints procedures more
accessible can also be particularly valuable to empower disabled users.
Enforcement (Chapter 13)
1.42 As with the administration of the licensing system, enforcement is carried out by
licensing authorities. However, most of their powers only extend to their own
licensees. Furthermore, many licensing enforcement officers told us that their
powers were not sufficient to tackle the breaches of conditions and licensing law
they encountered.
1.43 Many of the problems with enforcement derive from the lack of adequate
resources and a perceived lack of interest in enforcing existing rules. These are
not issues that legal reform is apt to address. On the other hand, we make a
range of recommendations to enhance licensing officers’ powers, including
granting them powers to stop a licensed vehicle on a road, without the need for a
police officer to be present; to impound vehicles for touting; and to issue a fixed
penalty notice to a person whom they have reason to believe has breached any
provision in national standards.
10
1.44 We also recommend that such powers should apply in respect of out-of-area
vehicles. Under current law this is not possible because, apart from bringing
criminal prosecutions, licensing officers can only take action against vehicles
licensed in their own area. Our proposed reforms will make it possible for licence
conditions prescribed as part of national standards (which will form the entirety of
private hire licence conditions as well as the minimum core of taxi conditions) to
be enforced by any licensing officer against any licensee.
Hearings and appeals (Chapter 14)
1.45 The current law is characterised by inconsistency and complexity. For example,
due to an historic anomaly, taxi vehicle owners in England and Wales have a
right of appeal against a decision of the licensing authority directly to the Crown
Court, whereas private hire vehicle owners can only make such an appeal to the
magistrates’ court in the first instance. Overall, our main contribution in respect of
appeals procedures is simplification through adopting a more uniform system. We
recommend that the procedure for statutory appeals should be standardised
across England and Wales (including London) for all forms of licence and
irrespective of whether the decision challenged is a refusal of an application for a
licence, a suspension or a revocation. In line with the current London model,
applicants should be able to require the licensing authority to reconsider its
original decision, the second stage in the statutory appeal process being an
appeal to the magistrates’ court, with a further right of appeal to the Crown Court.
Further, we recommend that local taxi conditions should be amenable to a
streamlined judicial review procedure in the County Court, akin to a procedure
that already exists, for challenges to a local authority’s homelessness decisions.18
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
1.46 As we noted in respect of our consultation, producing this report would not have
been possible without the wealth of experience that our stakeholders shared with
us. We are grateful for the time and effort so many individuals spent in giving us
practical insight into the taxi and private hire trades. We are very grateful to all
those who responded to our consultation, and met us at different stages of the
project. In particular, we would like to thank the members of our Advisory Group
and Expert Panel on Plying for Hire.19
18 Housing Act 1996, Part VII, ss 202 to 204.
19 Details of membership can be found at Appendix C.
11
CHAPTER 2
RETAINING THE TWO-TIER SYSTEM
INTRODUCTION
2.1 In our consultation paper we suggested public safety as a key justification for
regulating both taxi and private hire services. We also noted the important
differences in the way that the taxi and private hire markets work and suggested
that these warrant different economic regulation of the two trades. Consultation
reinforced this.
2.2 We proposed that certain standards, particularly relating to safety, should apply
for the protection of passengers wherever in England and Wales they happen to
be and whether they hailed the vehicle or pre-booked it. The starting point for our
proposed reforms therefore rests on a common regulated activity of carrying
passengers. Identifying the common ground shared by taxi and private hire
services is important in determining the scope of regulation, as well as the
appropriate minimum protections for passengers. After identifying that common
ground we shall proceed to consider the distinctive features of the taxi and
private hire markets, and how the new scheme should reflect these.
THE COMMON REGULATED ACTIVITY: CARRYING PASSENGERS IN A
VEHICLE HIRED WITH A DRIVER
2.3 Current statutes do not define a regulated activity common to both taxi and
private hire services. In fact, there is no statutory definition at all of what a taxi
does. The meaning of “plying for hire”, which is what taxis are licensed to do,1
is
not defined and can only properly be understood through case law.2
In addition,
plying for hire only relates to how vehicles are engaged – it covers hailing and
ranking (which only taxis are allowed to do) but does not define the legitimate
activities of a taxi once the journey has begun.
2.4 The statutory definition of a private hire vehicle is somewhat fuller: it is “a motor
vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a
hackney carriage or public service vehicle, which is provided for hire with the
services of a driver for the purpose of carrying passengers”.3
In London, the
definition is substantially the same, but the vehicle is described as “made
available” rather than “provided”; and the exception refers to a licensed taxi rather
than a hackney carriage.4

2.5 Under current law, both taxi and private hire legislation only covers transport
services provided “for hire”,5
excluding transport provided gratuitously. This
1
See Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 37 and Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 4.
2
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, paras 3.17 to 3.32.
3
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 80(1).
4
Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 1(1)(a).
5
Town Police Clauses Act 1947, s 37; Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 4; Local
Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 80; Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act
1998, s 1.
12
excludes, for example, hitchhiking.
2.6 The common aspect of the way taxis and private hire vehicles work which
justifies regulation is the carriage of passengers in a vehicle provided for hire
together with the services of a driver.6
Regulation should aim at ensuring that the
vehicle is of an appropriate standard and the driver competent and reliable, and
govern other matters related to the quality and safety of the journey.
2.7 These core elements of protection of the travelling public are much the same
whether the journey is in a taxi or a private hire vehicle.7
Therefore, the scope of
taxi and private hire licensing protection should be broadly the same for both
trades. Under the current law, however, protection differs depending on whether
the journey happens to be in a taxi or a private hire vehicle, as well as varying
significantly from one area to another.
2.8 Our view is that certain uniform standards, determined at a national level, should
apply to the regulated activity (common to both taxis and private hire vehicles)
described in our draft Bill as using a vehicle as a hire vehicle. A hire vehicle is
defined in the draft Bill as a vehicle that is used on a road to carry a passenger in
circumstances where the vehicle, together with the services of the driver, have
been hired for that purpose.8
This common regulated activity also provides a
basis for clarifying and rationalising the scope of taxi and private hire licensing
which we will discuss in the next Chapter.
2.9 Under our recommendations, it will be an offence to perform the regulated activity
unless the vehicle and driver either:
(1) hold taxi vehicle and driver licences. In addition, taxis collecting a
passenger outside their licensing area will need to show they have been
lawfully “pre-booked”; or
(2) hold private hire vehicle and driver licences. Two additional statutory
requirements will also have to be met. First, the journey must have been
lawfully “pre-booked”; secondly, this must have been done through a
licensed dispatcher.
THE RATIONALE FOR A TWO-TIER SYSTEM
2.10 In England and Wales, the activity of carrying passengers in a vehicle hired
together with a driver is shared by taxi and private hire services. Taxis can pick
passengers up at ranks and be hailed. In legal terms, these activities are
currently referred to as “plying for hire” and only taxis can engage with
passengers in these ways. Private hire vehicles, on the other hand, can only be
pre-booked through a licensed operator, and are not allowed to “ply for hire”.
6
It may be added, for completeness, that the starting and end points of a taxi and private
hire journey, as well as the identity of other passengers, are determined by the hirer in
respect of each journey. This is given expression by saying that the vehicle and driver are
hired, and is a point of distinction from, for example, bus and coach transport.
7
Although the different methods of engagement also have an impact on safety, what we are
discussing here is what happens once the journey has begun. We discuss modes of
engagement fully in Chapter 3 on the reformed two-tier system.
8
See draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 1(2).
13
2.11 The regulatory distinction between taxi and private hire services both reflects and
creates different markets. On the one hand, there is what we call the “rank and
hail” market, which is reserved exclusively for taxis. On the other hand, there is
the market in pre-booked services where competition works reasonably well,
which can be accessed by both taxis and private hire services, but which is the
only market open to the latter.
2.12 Competitive forces do not work fully in the ranking and hailing markets. Although
not legally required to do so, consumers will generally take the first available taxi
at a rank or hail the first taxi to pass in the street. They are unable to make
comparisons as to price and quality. Therefore, in the rank and hail market there
is a legitimate reason for regulation to go further than for private hire services: not
only ensuring an adequate level of safety, but also promoting quality and
regulating fares. The type and degree of regulation for taxis is therefore designed
to deal with the specific features of ranking and hailing.
2.13 A customer pre-booking a private hire vehicle has more opportunity to shop
around, comparing factors such as price, reliability and availability. The customer
may also have a choice between relatively cheap (but still safe) services, or
luxury, executive services. This justifies light-touch regulation, although the
licensing system must still ensure an appropriate level of safety.
2.14 This two-tier system comes at a cost. The public often lack understanding of the
difference between a taxi and private hire vehicle, which can undermine the
usefulness of regulating them differently. Some taxis, particularly in rural areas,
may do little rank and hail work. Further, as the pre-booking market expands, with
ever quicker and simpler technology, the interchangeability of taxi and private
hire services also increases, placing a strain on the different modes of regulation
applicable to each.
2.15 Our provisional view in the consultation paper was nevertheless that regulation
should continue to distinguish between taxis, which can accept pre-booked fares,
be hailed on the street and wait at ranks, and private hire vehicles, which can
only accept pre-booked work.9
Consultation
2.16 Generally speaking, those within the trades supported the retention of the two-tier
system. Those who did so tended to argue that the two systems offered different
types of service which were both in demand and so should remain distinct. For
example, the London Taxi Company, which supplies the iconic “London cab”,
described taxis as “inherently a public transport service” whereas it saw private
hire “as a creation of the market”. The National Association of Licensing and
Enforcement Officers (NALEO) pointed to the different passenger needs which
the two trades cater for, with the private hire trade servicing “pre-planned
requirements” whereas taxis service more immediate needs. Many consultees
pointed out that taxis were currently subject to higher regulatory standards
because passengers needed to be assured that the vehicle they took at random
from a rank or pursuant to a street hail would meet high and consistent
9
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 1.
14
standards. On the other hand, there was scope for the private hire market to be
more varied as customers had a much larger element of choice when preplanning a journey. Private hire driver Chris Jordan also commented that private
hire services could be more sophisticated than taxi services and therefore
needed greater flexibility.
2.17 Thirdly, strong arguments were made concerning the regulatory impact of the
introduction of a one-tier system. For example, Transport for London expressed
concern that, if the current high standards imposed on taxis were extended to
private hire vehicles, this would exclude many drivers from the market and create
a larger unlicensed, illegal market. By contrast, the Institute of Licensing argued
that a one-tier system would allow licensing authorities to focus their resources
on illegal operators rather than expending scarce resources on policing the
boundary between the two trades.
2.18 Our consultation considered the option of moving to a one-tier system. This
option found particular support among licensing authorities. The Welsh
Government and those Welsh local authorities who contributed to a joint
response were also in favour of a one-tier system, arguing that the current
system was outdated and that the distinction was purely historical.
2.19 Another argument made in favour of one-tier licensing was that it would improve
enforcement, since a single set of rules would be easier to apply, with less
duplication and bureaucracy. One licensing officer believed that in a one-tier
system there would be no need to license operators as well as drivers. It was
also said that a shift to a one-tier system would reduce loopholes and grey areas,
thus reducing enforcement costs. One councillor from Nottingham felt that many
drivers did not understand the system, leading to increased rates of offending.
Many consultees pointed to the growing role of technology in the provision of
passenger transport services, and the difficulties it poses as regards the definition
of plying for hire. The National Association of Taxi Users noted that the speed
with which consumers can book vehicles was blurring the distinction between the
hail and rank sector and the pre-booked sector, and argued that soon the
distinction would no longer be tenable.
2.20 Many consultees disagreed with our assessment of the differences between the
taxi and private hire markets. We received evidence about competition in the taxi
sector, often through discounting of fares. We learned that there is generally
greater competition between taxis in more rural areas, where consumers at
railway and bus stations are said to be willing to negotiate fares with taxis on the
rank. It was also suggested that competition may not be as healthy in the private
hire market as we thought: prices are often set at just below the regulated taxi
tariff for that area, with little variation between providers. One consultee argued
that “consumers do not actively compare prices, but do so by trial and error and
as a result of experience”.
2.21 During consultation we asked for examples of what a one-tier system might look
like. The Institute of Licensing Taxi Consultation Panel gave us a detailed
description of a one-tier system in which all vehicles would be able to ply for hire
within their licensing districts whilst taking pre-booked journeys anywhere. A key
feature of this approach would be that price regulation would apply to all services,
including private hire vehicles (which are currently not regulated). All vehicles
15
would be subject to the same standards, which would be a mixture of national
minimum standards and local authority “top up” conditions. To ensure disabled
access, only wheelchair accessible vehicles would be able to use ranks, although
local authorities would have the power to introduce permit schemes to allow nonwheelchair accessible vehicles to use specified ranks.
Discussion
2.22 Consultation highlighted a number of important issues, and we were particularly
interested to learn more about the nature of competition in the taxi and private
hire industries, and to record the strength of support for a one-tier system,
especially amongst licensing authorities. However, we maintain our view that
competition in the pre-booked market works well in most situations (although
market forces may not always work perfectly in the private hire industry,
particularly in respect of tourists or late at night when customers may have no
practical alternative).
2.23 A number of persuasive arguments were made in favour of a one-tier system,
including the lack of public understanding of the two-tier system. It is hard to
dispute the claim that, in general, the public neither knows nor cares about the
distinction, and indeed even those who work in the industry may well refer to a
private hire vehicle as a taxi for the sake of ease. This ties in with the fact that
both types of service may be said to do the same task, of transporting
passengers for a fee. That said, it is perhaps superficial to suggest that lack of
consumer understanding necessitates a change in the law – after all, members of
the public often find themselves affected by regulatory regimes they do not
understand, but which may nevertheless benefit them.
2.24 Overall, separate regulation of private hire vehicles means that most areas enjoy
a good range of provision, including specialist providers such as those who focus
primarily on airport runs. Taxis have their own place in this spectrum, offering a
more uniform service with regulated prices and quality controls. Although we
agree that there are strong arguments for common safety regulation of both
trades, we think considerations about price and quality controls are very different.
We are wary of over-regulating quality and the price of the journey for all
vehicles. This would risk narrowing the overall range of provision and potentially
increasing costs for providers, which would then be passed on to consumers.
There are also concerns that requiring the private hire sector to meet higher
quality standards (which are arguably not necessary) will push providers into the
unlicensed market as there will still be demand for their services. An example of
this can be seen in the experience of London prior to the introduction of private
hire licensing: taxi standards and prices were high but a market clearly existed for
lower-priced services of a more basic nature. This manifested itself through the
growth of a large unregulated minicab industry. Regulating private hire services
fares might also mean that high-end services would be limited in what they could
charge and no longer be viable.
2.25 It seems particularly difficult to reconcile the different approaches currently taken
to fares in the two sectors. On the one hand, we recognise that it is important for
taxi fares to remain regulated. This provides an important element of consumer
protection when accessing a taxi at a rank or in the street. On the other hand, the
fact that private hire operators have the freedom to set fares is a benefit to the
16
consumer, as it allows competition. It seems disproportionate to impose fare
regulation on all journeys.
2.26 We also question whether a one-tier system could be in practice as simple as
some consultees suggested: it would require separate licensing categories and
regulations for non-standard vehicles such as limousines and novelty vehicles;
ensuring disabled access and an appropriate level of fare regulation could be
problematic. Finally, we note that many foreign jurisdictions operate the same
distinction between taxis – that can use ranks and be hailed – and pre-booked
only vehicles.10 The two-tier system is not merely a quirk of the history of the
trades in England and Wales but also stems from differences in the markets they
serve.
2.27 On the other hand, we recognise that in areas where rank and hail work is only
marginal, a one-tier system can work better. The licensing system that we
suggest is therefore flexible enough to allow authorities that wish to do so to
implement what would be very close to a one-tier system locally. Under our
reforms, a local authority could choose – for example in a rural area where
ranking and hailing were uncommon – to apply only the minimum national
standards and national licensing fee, without any additional local conditions, to its
taxi fleet. It could choose not to regulate fares at all. In such an area, there would
be no reason to be licensed as a private hire vehicle rather than a taxi and very
little difference in the regulations applicable to each.
2.28 In urban areas, by contrast, taxi ranks and the ability to hail a passing taxi are
matters of considerable convenience to the travelling public. Their utility would be
undermined by an absence of, in particular, fare regulation. On the other hand,
fare regulation should not be imposed on providers that confine their activities to
accepting pre-bookings in circumstances giving customers more bargaining
power. For those reasons, we favour continuation of the two-tier system. Whilst
we recognise that technology is making enforcement of the distinction between
plying for hire and pre-booking more difficult, it does not make the distinction
meaningless. The legal definitions should be flexible enough to accommodate
technological bookings, such as those made through smartphone applications.
Recommendation 1
We recommend retaining the two-tier system. Regulation should
continue to distinguish between taxis, which can be hailed or
use ranks, and private hire vehicles, which can only be prebooked.
2.29 However, we recommend significant changes to the way the legal line between
the two tiers should be drawn. This is discussed in the next chapter.
10 This is the case, among other numerous examples, in Scotland (taxis and private hire
cars), Ireland (taxis or public hire vehicles and private hire vehicles or hackneys), New
South Wales and Victoria (taxi-cab and private hire vehicle), New York (taxi-cab and forhire vehicle) and France (taxis and “voitures de tourisme avec chauffeur”).
17
CHAPTER 3
REDEFINING TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE
SERVICES
INTRODUCTION
3.1 Although we have found merit in the distinction between taxis and private hire
vehicles, the current way in which this distinction is achieved is problematic and
needs reform. We make recommendations aimed at a clearer distinction between
the permitted activities of the two trades.
3.2 Currently the distinction between taxis and private hire vehicles is focussed on
the difficult concept of “plying for hire”. Though not defined in the legislation, it
describes the activity reserved to taxis. A non-lawyer would probably define it as
driving around looking to be hailed or waiting for custom at a taxi rank. The
concept as developed in case law is inevitably more complex than that and, as
we concluded in our consultation paper, leaves considerable grey areas,
particularly in the interface with licensed private hire vehicles;1
the existence of
the offence of unlicensed plying for hire also calls into question the legitimacy of
new ways of providing services, especially those using technology such as
mobile phones and smartphone applications.
3.3 Our reforms approach the demarcation of the two-tiers from a more practical
perspective, focussing on the dispatch and pre-booking requirements that must
be fulfilled by a lawful private hire journey, coupled with a more workable
alternative to the plying for hire offence, based on the Scottish offence of
accepting a “there and then” hiring.
3.4 In this chapter we discuss the key elements of the revised two-tier system. We
begin by explaining our recommendation to move away from the concept of
plying for hire. After doing so, we discuss a variety of matters relevant to the
distinction between taxi services and private hire services. These are:
(1) terminology and advertising;
(2) the reinforced obligation, applying to private hire services of a
documented pre-booking and the obligation of a private hire dispatcher to
give certain information to the customer;
(3) the problem of taxis working in effect as private hire vehicles,
predominantly or exclusively outside their licensing area and the rules
that should apply to out-of-area taxi work;
(4) unofficial ranks;
(5) our proposed new “there and then” offence;
(6) certain rules relating only to taxis;
1
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, para 3.31.
18
(7) the position of intermediaries in bookings;
(8) taxi radio circuits;
(9) private hire operator licensing;
(10) our proposed new definition of a private hire operator (called a
“dispatcher” in our draft Bill); and
(11) how the regulatory regime should apply to the new, internet-based
methods of obtaining taxi and private hire services.
3.5 We set out the main obligations that we propose should apply in providing taxi
and private hire services in the form of a flowchart at paragraph 3.146 below.
PLYING FOR HIRE
3.6 Taxis are referred to in the legislation as “hackney carriages”.2
A hackney
carriage is defined by section 38 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 in the
following terms:
Every wheeled carriage, whatever may be its form or construction,
used in standing or plying for hire in any street within the prescribed
distance … shall be deemed to be a hackney carriage within the
meaning of this Act.
3.7 The legislation applying to London uses broadly similar terminology.3
Their
exclusive right to ply for hire is thus made the defining characteristic of taxis
under the current law, although the term is not defined in the legislation. Picking
up passengers at ranks and in response to hailing is generally understood to be
at the core of plying for hire, but these activities do not feature in the legislation.
Instead, the case law refers to factors such as the “exhibition” of the vehicle,4
which may indicate plying for hire, its availability to the general public and the
“immediacy” of its availability.5
Parking a vehicle in a public place may or may not
amount to plying for hire, depending on an assessment of these factors. The
case law is often inconsistent and unclear.6
Technology has highlighted the
2
The term “taxi” is relatively modern. It was first used in legislation in the Transport Act
1980, where a taxi is defined in the same terms as a “hackney carriage”. Most of the
legislation and case law still refers to taxis as “hackney carriages”. We will consider
terminology, and use of words such as “taxi” specifically from para 3.24 below.
3
See the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 4.
4
This is a particularly problematic criterion. The vehicle itself, by definition, cannot look like
a hackney carriage (Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 48(1)(a)(ii)).
This means that the appearance of the vehicle itself cannot be interpreted as an offer for
immediate hire. As for the driver, it cannot be assumed that he or she would be willing to
break the law and accept a passenger without a pre-booking; thus prosecution in effect
requires more than simple exhibition of the vehicle.
5
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, paras 3.19 to 3.32; and in particular Cogley v Sherwood [1959] 2 QB 311
and Case v Storey (1868-69) LR 4 Ex 319.
6
In Cogley v Sherwood [1959] 2 QB 311 at 323 Lord Chief Justice Parker described the
prior case law as not easy to reconcile nor yielding any comprehensive and authoritative
definition of the term.
19
indeterminacy of some of these factors by adding new ways for consumers to
engage services. Internet bookings for example can be virtually immediate,
suggesting taxi-like behaviour, and yet have all the characteristics of a prebooking, making them compliant with private hire requirements.
3.8 Plying for hire without a taxi licence is a criminal offence and is therefore critical
in defining what private hire vehicles7
are not allowed to do. Yet there is no
statutory definition of plying for hire. In our consultation paper we therefore
suggested that the definition of plying for hire should be placed on a statutory
footing in order to be more accessible and better reflect modern understandings
of what taxis do. We provisionally proposed that the definition should refer to
ranks and hailing and contain a non-exhaustive list of factors indicating plying for
hire; it should not extend to technological means of engaging taxi services.8
Consultation
3.9 There was near-unanimous support for this proposal, with widespread
dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity surrounding the concept of plying for hire.
However, whereas ranking and hailing were recognised as useful to describe
some of the exclusive activities of taxis, there was less support for a statutory list
of factors. Stakeholders were worried that in practice any list would be used
inflexibly, and be potentially under or over-inclusive. Clarity, the main advantage
of a statutory definition, would be undermined by the non-exhaustive nature of
such a list. The expert panel we convened to discuss the issue also agreed that a
definition of plying for hire that relied on a list of factors would not be practical.
3.10 A number of licensing authorities and their officers welcomed the idea of a
statutory definition on the grounds that it would be far clearer in terms of
enforcement. Doug Thorogood of GPS Taxi said that such a definition would
allow drivers to know exactly the scope of what they were permitted to do.
ComCab Liverpool told us that it:
Recognises [that] the current lack of definition allows for large scale
“plying for hire” and ”touting” by private hire vehicles, an issue that
places the public at risk and adds to a lack of clear understanding as
to the key differences between taxis and private hire vehicles.
3.11 The strength of support for the notion of a statutory definition was not, however,
matched by any strength of opinion on how the statutory definition should be
couched. The difficulty of drawing one up is perhaps evidenced by the very small
number of responses we received which positively suggested a way of defining
plying for hire.
3.12 The London Branch of the RMT suggested that:
A vehicle that is on view to attract custom and available for immediate
hire is illegally plying for hire … A vehicle … waiting outside a venue
7
And, of course, completely unlicensed vehicles.
8
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposals 15 and 16.
20
… waiting to be booked is plying for hire.9
3.13 Some respondents, including Chris Wildman and the United Cabbies Group,
suggested that there should be a time-lapse requirement for a pre-booking.
3.14 Moreover, not everyone agreed with the benefits of a statutory definition of plying
for hire. For example, Watford Borough Council commented that:
We are concerned that, whilst a statutory definition would be useful, a
non-exhaustive list of factors describing “plying for hire” could lead to
stated cases10 that replicate the current muddled position.
Discussion
3.15 We have come to the view that a statutory definition of plying for hire would not
be a practical improvement on the current position. This accords with the advice
we received from an expert panel composed of distinguished licensing lawyers
that we set up specifically for the purpose of discussing reform of “plying for
hire”.11 The main reason for this conclusion is that whether a vehicle is plying for
hire in particular circumstances is, as the courts have noted, a matter of fact and
degree.12 No statutory list of factors could be sufficiently determinative to give
clear guidance, leaving many of the current grey areas unresolved.
3.16 It is also a major problem that the definition of plying for hire arose before the
emergence of an organised and regulated private hire trade. Much of the activity
that has been criminalised as “plying for hire” was originally aimed at prohibiting
completely unlicensed drivers from picking up passengers without any controls.
In other words, the concept of plying for hire was part of a piece of legislation
directed at those who ought not to be carrying passengers for hire at all. Reliance
on plying for hire is a prime example of why taxi legislation can be regarded as
outdated, through failure to reflect such a fundamental change to the licensing
landscape.
3.17 Moreover, respondents highlighted the practical difficulties of enforcing plying for
hire offences. In practice, we understand that prosecutions are typically only
brought pursuant to test purchase operations where the undercover licensing
officer is actually offered a journey. Plying for hire effectively criminalises the
preparatory steps to doing something that only taxis should be allowed to do; that
is, to accept a passenger without a pre-booking. The offence of touting already
criminalises those actively soliciting taxi and private hire work. If plying for hire is
meant to catch any broader behaviour than touting, it must necessarily be an
inchoate offence, involving an implicit intention to offer services; convictions will
frequently depend on circumstantial evidence, with all the attendant difficulties.
9
The response also pointed to the definition suggested in the Hindley Report of 1939: “A
vehicle is plying for hire if it is offered or available for hire, whilst in any street, public place,
or place where it is, at the time of the offer or at the time when it is made available, open to
the view of the public”.
10 This refers to appeals from magistrates’ courts to the High Court on a point of law.
11 A list of members of the panel is at Appendix C.
12 See for example Cogley v Sherwood [1959] 2 QB 311 at 323 to 324.
21
3.18 Our proposal is therefore to approach the problem of demarcation from the
opposite direction: rather than attempting to define the things that taxis alone are
permitted to do, we focus upon the precondition for lawful transport of a
passenger in a private hire vehicle – namely pre-booking – and upon improving
its enforceability through record-keeping obligations imposed on private hire
operators (“dispatchers” as they are called in our draft Bill).13 We propose to
buttress this with a new offence of accepting a “there and then” hiring.14
3.19 Some stakeholders suggested placing a time-lapse requirement on pre-bookings
(for example, a mandatory 30 minute waiting period between the booking and the
pick up), as is the case in certain jurisdictions.15 This would have the benefit of
clarity, but would be very restrictive on businesses, and result in a poorer service
to consumers. It would artificially increase passenger waiting times and
potentially play into the hands of completely unlicensed providers. We therefore
do not recommend this. Provided that private hire vehicles comply with the
regulatory requirements regarding (among other things) dispatch, pre-booking
and price disclosure on request, we believe that they should be free to provide
customers with as fast and effective service as they are able to.
3.20 In summary, our proposed recommendation is that taxis should continue to be
unrestricted in the manner in which they pick up passengers within their licensing
area.16 Taxis alone should continue to be able to use ranks and to respond to
hails within their licensing area. The holding of a taxi licence for the area will
mean that they commit no offence of unlicensed provision; nor an offence of
picking up a passenger there and then, which will not apply to taxis within their
licensing area.17 These reforms would replace the terminology of “plying for hire”
in area, but without impacting upon how taxis work. An added advantage would
be the removal of reference to plying for hire in the street,18 which currently
means that an unlicensed vehicle can freely ply for hire on private land. In our
consultation paper we proposed that the regulation of the ways taxis and private
hire vehicles can engage with the public should not be limited to “streets”.19 A
large majority of stakeholders agreed with this approach. Our proposals to move
away from plying for hire largely remove the relevance of “streets”. As we shall
discuss below, the same is true in respect of compellability.
3.21 Owners of private land have extensive control over who has access to their
premises, including taxis and private hire vehicles and we do not wish to alter this
13 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 8, 39 and 42.
14 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 6.
15 For example in Seattle job requests must be made at least 30 minutes prior to required
time; in France, a Decree of 27 December 2013 required a 15-minute waiting period
between the booking and the boarding of private hire cars; the Decree was, however,
suspended by the Conseil d’Etat on the ground that it undermined freedom of trade, See
http://www.conseil-etat.fr/fr/communiques-de-presse/decret-vtc.html (last visited 19May
2014).
16 Subject to the offence of touting, which can be committed by a licensed taxi driver. We
discuss touting in Chapter 13.
17 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 4, 5 and 6.
18 Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s38; London Hackney Carriage Act 1853, s35.
19 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 13.
22
position. We think that if the carriage for hire is to take place entirely within
private land, there is no need to regulate it. However, if at any point the journey
should go outside private land, then it falls within the scope of the regulated
activity, requiring licensing; other incidents of regulation, such as compellability,
should likewise apply.
3.22 Under the reformed system, the offence of plying for hire will no longer exist. The
focus of the distinction between taxis and private hire vehicles will become the
statutory requirement of a documented pre-booking. Only where a valid prebooking exists can a private hire journey lawfully take place. (Such a journey
would also have to involve a driver, vehicle and dispatcher holding the relevant
licence). Taxis picking up passengers outside their licensing area would also be
subject to new statutory booking requirements, but without the need to be
dispatched by a licensed dispatcher.20
Recommendation 2
We recommend that the offences relating to plying for hire
should be abolished. We propose replacing the concept of
plying for hire with a new scheme of offences, resting on the
principal prohibition of carrying passengers for hire without a
licence, alongside a new offence making it unlawful for anyone
other than a local taxi driver to accept a journey starting “there
and then”.
Recommendation 3
We recommend a statutory definition of pre-booking in order to
create a clear distinction between the work of a taxi in its
licensing area and the work of a private hire vehicle.
3.23 These recommendations are given effect by clauses 4, 5, 6 and 8 of our draft Bill.
TERMINOLOGY AND ADVERTISING
3.24 Having a two-tier system requires clear rules regarding the way in which the
respective taxi and private hire services should be permitted to describe
themselves. Under current law, private hire vehicles are not permitted to be “of
such design and appearance as to lead any person to believe that the vehicle is a
hackney carriage”.21 For example, the use of a roof-sign which displays the word
“taxi” or “cab”, or any other feature which might suggest the vehicle is a taxi, on
any vehicle which is not a taxi is prohibited.22 In London, advertisements
including the words “taxi” or “cab”, or words so closely resembling them that they
20 We discuss these below from para 3.44.
21 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s48(1)(a)(ii). Legislation requires
all licensed vehicles to carry a plate which distinguishes the vehicle as either a hackney
carriage or a private hire vehicle. In respect of taxis see Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s
38; London Cab Order 1934, paras 16 and 18; and in respect of private hire vehicles see
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 48(3)(b) and (6)(a); Private Hire
Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 10(1) and (2).
22 Transport Act 1980, s 64(1); Private Hire Vehicles (London PHV Licences) Regulations
2004, reg 8.
23
are likely to be mistaken for them, are prohibited on vehicles other than London
cabs.23 The word “minicab” is, however, permitted.24
3.25 In our consultation paper we proposed removing references to “hackney
carriages” from the statute book.25 We also asked whether private hire services
should be allowed to describe themselves as “pre-booked taxis” in some
circumstances.26
Consultation
3.26 There was general support for removing references to “hackney carriages,”27
particularly amongst the private hire trade. The question of pre-booked taxis was
much more controversial.
3.27 A large majority of respondents were not in favour of allowing private hire firms to
describe themselves as taxis, even if this were qualified with the term “prebooked”. Chief amongst their concerns was what they perceived to be the
already endangered distinction between taxis and private hire vehicles. Other
consultees were concerned about public confusion and the potential to
undermine any progress in educating the public as to the distinction between
taxis and private hire vehicles. This was felt to be particularly true in areas where
saloon cars could be licensed as taxis or private hire vehicles.
3.28 During consultation we did some site visits with taxi and private hire providers.
Private hire providers told us on more than one occasion that their inability to use
the term “taxi” in any form was hampering their business. One example we saw
during a site visit was the private hire concession stand within Victoria bus
station, London. Passengers alighting here in search of a taxi often came from
overseas and would not appreciate the nature of the service offered at the
private hire stand. This would also be true at airports for example.
3.29 Licensing authorities can also impose specific licensing conditions prohibiting the
use of certain words in respect of private hire vehicles. For example East Devon
District Council provides that no use shall be made of the words “taxi”, “cab” or
“kab” or any phonetically or visually similar words or names on the vehicle or on
any advertisements attached to it. Moreover, the names of all private hire firms
must be agreed by the council before a licence is issued.28
3.30 Transport for London argued that current restrictions on use of the word “taxi” (or
“cab”) by private hire vehicles should be extended. They said that they would like
23 Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 31(2).
24 Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 31(3).
25 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 22.
26 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 23.
27 265 agreed; 55 disagreed; 15 made other comments.
28 East Devon District Council, available at: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/bookletph04web.pdf (para 2.15) (last visited 19 May 2014). These powers will no longer exist if our
recommendations are accepted; avoidance of misleading terminology will be a matter for
the new legislation, supplemented if necessary by national private hire vehicle standards.
24
to prevent private hire operators from using such language in any form of
advertising, on their website or as part of website addresses.
Discussion
3.31 We will continue to recommend that the statutory language be changed to “taxi”
for hackney carriages. The use of “hackney carriage” is an historic anomaly.
“Private hire”, on the other hand, is a modern term which, although it may not
receive much public usage, accurately describes the service it relates to.
3.32 We recognise that there is a significant depth of feeling in relation to the use of
the term “taxi”, in any form, by private hire firms. Given the growth of online
marketing it seems than only an outright prohibition on these terms would be
effective. We acknowledge that the term “private hire” is not well-known amongst
the general public, and the term “minicab” is only used to any great extent in
London. Yet if private hire vehicles are to be prohibited from using signage
including the word “taxi” it appears inevitable that this restriction should also
apply to advertising. It could be argued that allowing private hire firms to
advertise as taxis might encourage the public to try to hail private hire vehicles.
On the other hand, private hire vehicles should continue to be allowed to
advertise as “cabs”.
3.33 Finally, we note that national standards regarding signage, as may be set by the
Secretary of State under our reforms, will also be very important in helping to
identify legitimate providers and in differentiating between taxi and private hire
services.29
Recommendation 4
We recommend that the term “hackney carriage” should be
replaced in legislation with the word “taxi”. The term “private
hire vehicle” should remain unchanged.
3.34 This recommendation is given effect in the draft Bill by the use of the terms “taxi
driver’s licence” and “taxi licence” in clause 68.
Recommendation 5
We recommend that only the providers of licensed taxi services
should be allowed to describe themselves using the term “taxi”
on vehicles or in advertising materials.
3.35 This recommendation is given effect in the draft Bill by provisions regulating
signage and advertising in clause 69.
STATUTORY PRE-BOOKING AND INFORMATION OBLIGATIONS FOR
PRIVATE HIRE SERVICES
3.36 Private hire operators play a pivotal role in the provision of private hire services,
and will continue to do so under our reforms.30 Under the current law, operators
29 See Chapter 7 below, para 7.36 onwards.
30 We will discuss their role within our reformed system in detail below from para 3.129.
25
are subject to record-keeping obligations in respect of private hire bookings
accepted in accordance with the requirements set down by their licensing
authority,31 with the result that there is considerable variation in respect of content
and level of detail across the country.
3.37 In giving our reasons for abandoning the concept of plying for hire, we placed
emphasis on pre-booking in distinguishing the competitive market in for-hire
services from rank and hail provision. We have also referred in this Report to the
ability of customers wishing to book a private hire journey to shop around for
lower prices and better offerings and have noted in addition that where a provider
disappoints a customer, they risk losing repeat business. Buyer power in these
situations can be strong.
3.38 In summary, we recommend maintaining the current legal position in England
and Wales, including London, in which a private hire journey must be booked,
before the journey begins and the booking must be made through a licensed
private hire operator (which, further to our reforms, will be redefined as a
“dispatcher” as discussed below).32 We propose that, in order for the pre-booking
to be effective to make the journey lawful, the operator must make a record of the
booking and provide a price or an estimate up front, if requested. The same
obligations would be imposed on taxi drivers taking pre-booked work out-of-area,
save that taxi drivers will continue to be able to take bookings themselves and will
not need to be dispatched by a separately licensed operator. We describe our
proposed pre-booking obligations further below.33 We also recommend that the
Secretary of State should have the power to prescribe further the form and
content of private hire and out-of-area taxi pre-bookings.
3.39 Under current law, London private hire operators are under a duty to provide
passengers with a price or estimate up front on request.34 This does not apply
outside London.
3.40 We recommend two key changes to the law in this regard. First, we recommend
that private hire operators (which will be referred to as “dispatchers” under our
reforms) should be under a duty to give the hirer an estimate35 up front, if
requested, and to maintain a record of it, before the journey begins.36 The duty
will only be fulfilled if the information given is given in good faith. Secondly, the
operator’s disclosure and record-keeping obligations would apply in respect of all
jobs dispatched by that operator. This would include taxi journeys in cases
where, as currently happens, a private hire operator dispatches a taxi rather than
31 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 56(2); and Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 4(3).
32 See Recommendation 16 and para 3.135 onwards.
33 See from paras 3.135 to 3.143.
34 See Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 3(4); and Private Hire Vehicles (London)
(Operators’ Licences) Regulations 2000, SI 2000 No 3146, reg 9(3).
35 The purpose of the estimate is to provide the hirer with an idea of the cost of the journey.
Whereas this would usually be the overall cost of the journey, in certain circumstances
providing a per mile estimate may also be reasonable.
36 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles, clause 34.
26
a licensed private hire vehicle.37 This will be without prejudice to the continued
ability of a taxi driver to accept a pre-booking without the need to go through a
licensed dispatcher, provided they keep appropriate records and give necessary
information to customers on request.38 Taxi drivers themselves will not be obliged
to keep records where they are dispatched by a licensed private hire operator.
3.41 This policy is aimed at promoting transparency in pricing, which is an important
part of enabling customers meaningfully to compare the services of different
private hire companies and thus promoting competition in the private hire market.
This, in turn, promotes the continuance of a two-tier system. It also gives the right
incentives to operators to plan journeys properly and ensure that drivers have the
information they need to provide an efficient service so that operators can
correctly price their products. This is all the more important as we recommend
that private hire drivers should no longer be required to satisfy topographical
knowledge requirements.
3.42 The provisions applying to private hire operators in London require an estimate,
rather than a specific price, and we understand that this has not caused any
significant problems. We therefore propose to require no more than an estimate
as part of our reforms. This is without prejudice to the ability of customers to
agree a price for the journey as a matter of contract law.
Recommendation 6
Operators across England and Wales (dispatchers under our
Bill) should be under a duty to provide a price or an estimate of
the fare on request, as is already the case in London.
3.43 This recommendation is given effect in the draft Bill by clause 39.
TAXIS WORKING OUT OF AREA
3.44 Taxis should continue to be allowed to do “hail and rank” work only if the journey
begins in their licensing area. This is because outside the licensing area there is
no price protection, a driver operating outside their licensing area may well not
have local topographical knowledge, and the standards of the taxi vehicle might
be lower than those of local ones, undermining the utility of the local taxi
standards that we recommend licensing authorities should be able to impose.
Under our reforms, taxis would continue to be able to pick up passengers outside
their licensing area, but only pursuant to a pre-booking.
The problem of taxis working systematically as private hire vehicles out of
area
3.45 The problem of out of town taxis working almost exclusively outside their
37 This gives rise to the anomaly that a taxi radio circuit or other intermediary working only with
taxis does not have any record-keeping and information obligations whereas a licensed private
hire operator doing the same thing does. This difference in treatment is, however, justified by
the fact that taxi journeys booked through radio circuits will remain subject to fare regulation
under our recommendations, whereas journeys booked through private hire operators are not.
Hence the need for records to prove that the journey was arranged through pre-booking, so that
the customer had the opportunity to compare different offerings.
38 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles, clause 34.
27
licensing area, carrying out pre-booked work (and sometimes unlawfully plying for
hire) has escalated in recent years. Indeed this formed the main focus of the
2011 Transport Select Committee review of taxi and private hire licensing.39
3.46 Taxis do not require a private hire licence in order to undertake pre-booked work
of any description.40 As we noted in our consultation paper, however, the law in
this area is confusing and at times inconsistent.41 The current position has paved
the way for a significant number of taxis to work as private hire vehicles outside
the area for which they hold a hackney carriage licence.42 The tensions this
creates are most apparent at the boundaries of large urban areas, which typically
have more demanding standards than their surrounding areas. For example,
since consultation we have heard this has become an even more prominent issue
on the boundary between Manchester and surrounding local authorities.43
3.47 This issue has arisen most prominently in the case of Newcastle City Council’s
largely unsuccessful challenge to Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council’s
preparedness to license taxis not based in the Borough, with the consequence of
enabling them to work as private hire vehicles in other parts of the country.
44 It
was alleged that applicants were choosing to obtain hackney carriage licences in
Berwick-upon-Tweed, owing to the lower costs and less burdensome conditions
attaching to those licences, and subsequently operating as private hire vehicles
exclusively in other licensing areas.45 Although the court was not prepared to say
that Berwick’s actions were unlawful, the judge voiced serious concern about
Berwick’s licensing practices, particularly the lack of control over vehicles working
39 Taxis and private hire vehicles: the road to reform, Report of the Select Committee on
Transport, (2010-12) HC 720. Out of area taxis were also a significant focus of many
stakeholder meetings we attended, in particular the Meeting of Minds in Bolton on 15 April
2014.
40 See Britain v ABC Cabs (Camberley) Ltd [1981] RTR 395; Brentwood Borough Council
v Gladden [2004] EWHC 2500 (Admin). In these cases, however, the booking had been
accepted in the taxi’s licensing area. But this fact was not considered determinant, see
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council v Fidler [2010] [2010] EWHC 2430 (Admin), discussed
below.
41 See Mr Christopher Symons QC in R (on the application of Newcastle City Council) v
Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council [2008] EWHC 2369 (Admin) paras 42 and 57: “… I
am not prepared to do other than follow Gladen which is a decision of this Court which
I am certainly not prepared to say is obviously wrong” – hardly a ringing endorsement.
See also Kingston-upon-Hull City Council v Wilson (unreported, 29 June 1995) but which
Lord Justice Munby refused to follow in Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council v Fidler [2010]
EWHC 2430 (Admin).
42 R (on the application of Newcastle City Council) v Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council
[2008] EWHC 2369 (Admin) by Mr Christopher Symons QC at para 42.
43 Stakeholders informed us of considerable cross-border activity into Manchester and
beyond from Rochdale and Rossendale licensing authorities for example. We
subsequently attended a large meeting convened by the National Association of Licensing
and Enforcement Officers in Bolton to discuss the problem of “out of town taxis”, on 15
April 2014.
44 R (on the application of Newcastle City Council) v Berwick upon Tweed Borough Council
[2008] EWHC 2369 (Admin).
45 In R (on the application of Newcastle City Council) v Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough
Council [2008] EWHC 2369 (Admin), note 5, the judge noted (and was critical of the fact)
that Berwick had testing stations in Newcastle, Alnwick and as far afield as
Birmingham.
28
remotely.46 The matter was felt sufficiently serious to merit investigation by the
Transport Select Committee in 2011,47 which suggests that the decision had not
had the restrictive effect intended. The Select Committee recommended that
local authorities should impose conditions to the effect that taxis, private hire
vehicles and their drivers must work principally in district by which they are
licensed.48
New national standards and a more level playing field
3.48 Our reforms seek to address the root causes of the problems associated with out
of area taxis working as private hire vehicles. We propose introducing national
standards which should remove any incentives to obtain a licence outside the
area in which a driver proposes to work to take advantage of lower standards, for
example. Because national standards for private hire vehicles would be aligned,
under our recommendations, with the minimum standards that we propose
should be set nationally for taxis, there would be little point in obtaining a taxi
licence in order to undertake remote private hire work. Nothing in our proposals
would prevent a licensing authority from imposing as a condition of a taxi licence
that the applicant must work primarily within the local area. Indeed local
authorities already impose a variety of conditions on both taxi drivers and private
hire operators to try to combat this.49 We additionally propose a nationally
prescribed private hire licence fee, which would also be a minimum level below
which taxi licence fees could not be set. This would reduce the scope for lower
fees to provide similar incentives. Moreover, we propose new cross-border
enforcement powers, which empower local licensing officers to deal more
effectively with unlawful behaviour or breaches of national standards by vehicles
licensed outside the area.50
A return to area requirement?
3.49 In response to the out of area working problem that we have described above,
46 R (on the application of Newcastle City Council) v Berwick upon Tweed Borough Council
[2008] EWHC 2369 (Admin) at para 34. The judge noted that Berwick operated testing
stations in Newcastle, Alnwick and as far afield as Birmingham. The outcome of this
case was affirmed in Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council v Fidler [2010] EWHC 2430
(Admin).
47 Taxis and private hire vehicles, Report of the Select Committee on Transport, (2010-12)
HC 720.
48 Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles: the road to reform, Report of the Select Committee on
Transport (2010 – 12) HC 720, para 30.
49 Derby City Council requires operators to inform customers where the vehicle dispatched to
them is not licensed by Derby City Council. It also prohibits vehicles licensed outside the
area from displaying the livery of a private hire operator licensed by Derby City Council.
See http://www.derby.gov.uk/transport-and-streets/taxis-and-minicabs/licence-private-hireoperators/ (last visited 16 May 2014). Pendle Borough Council has an as yet
unimplemented policy of requiring hackney carriage licence applicants to demonstrate a
bona fide intention to ply for hire within the local authority area of Pendle. Monmouthshire
County Council is currently consulting on a similar policy:
http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/11th-February-2014-
Monmouthshire-intended-use-policy.doc (last visited 16 May 2014).
50 See Chapter 13 below.
29
the Transport Select Committee in 201151 suggested that local authorities should
require taxis, private hire vehicles and their drivers to work principally in the area
in which they are licensed, including a new requirement for drivers to return to
their licensing area within a reasonable time of dropping off passengers outside
the area. This was proposed for both taxis and private hire vehicles.
3.50 In the consultation paper we did not support a return to area requirement, on the
basis that it could damage consumer interests through increased prices and
reduced flexibility of provision, as well as having adverse environmental
consequences through requiring drivers to return to their area without a
passenger when they might have been able to obtain a pre-booking, or a
dispatch by a private hire operator, for a journey in their homeward direction. 52
Consultation
3.51 This received very mixed responses. Most respondents disagreed with our view,
and supported a return to area requirement. Most of those who disagreed were
taxi drivers and regulators. We note that a number of those who responded were
under the impression that a return to area requirement already applied; this is not
the case, and the introduction of any such restriction would represent an increase
in regulation.
3.52 The private hire operators we spoke with during consultation maintained that a
return to area requirement would be a significant burden and also have
an unnecessary, negative environmental impact. Regardless of how far away it is
from its licensing area, they suggested, if a vehicle can pick up a pre-booking in
an area in which it has just dropped off a passenger, it makes economic and
environmental sense to do so.
3.53 GMB highlighted the enforcement difficulties associated with vehicles working
outside their licensing area, and consequent risk to customer safety.
Discussion
3.54 We do not recommend a “return to area” requirement for taxis (or private hire
vehicles). Such a requirement does not form part of the current system and would
constitute an added burden. It would also be difficult to enforce, and might
operate unfairly, because it would apply whether or not the driver had
any intention of taking a passenger illegally whilst in the other licensing area.
3.55 As regards private hire vehicles, such a requirement would be at odds with our
proposed scheme which aims to create a national market for private hire and to
minimise geographical constraints. Further, we suggest that our
recommendations as to obligations on licensing authorities to publish information
about the vehicles, drivers and operators they license,53 as well as those
requiring vehicle licence holders, drivers and operators to each maintain records
51 Taxis and private hire vehicles, Report of the Select Committee on Transport, (2010-12)
HC 720.
52 The question covered both taxis and private hire services. Reforming the law of taxi and
private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation Paper No 203, provisional
proposal 42.
53 See Chapter 10 below.
30
of licensees they work with,54 would go some way towards making enforcement
against private hire drivers acting illegally out of area easier.
3.56 Evidence from consultation highlighted various valid concerns relating to crossborder work; we do not, however, regard a return to area requirement as an
effective solution. If a driver is minded to pick up an unbooked passenger illegally
outside their area, they are likely to delay their return to their area in order to do
so, whether or not they are additionally in breach of a return to area requirement.
We therefore do not recommend introducing such a requirement.
3.57 In the following chapters we shall consider how new cross-border enforcement
powers and the introduction of national minimum standards might eradicate many
of the concerns associated with cross-border private hire, and out-of-area taxi
work. Below, we explain how our proposed reforms clarify the requirements
applicable to taxis seeking to pick up passengers out of area.
New statutory record-keeping requirements for pre-booked taxis working
out of area
3.58 Where a taxi is being used outside its licensed area, there need to be clear rules
about the circumstances and conditions under which it should be allowed to pick
up passengers. We shared many of the concerns raised by stakeholders who
supported a return to area requirement.
3.59 In our consultation paper, we asked a general question as to whether taxis
should be required to hold records of pre-booked journeys.55
Consultation
3.60 Most consultees were in favour of taxi record-keeping obligations. Those who
agreed felt that records would be very useful in the event of an incident. For
example, James Button (a solicitor and academic) said that:
Drivers should be allowed to accept bookings in their vehicles
however a log or record should be maintained in case of incident or
complaint so that there is evidence for the investigation.
3.61 Leeds City Council expressed a similar view. Some consultees thought that a
record should only be kept of a taxi pre-booking if the charge was to be higher
than the metered fare. For example, Cornwall Council said that taxi drivers:
Should only be required to keep a record if it is decided that they can
charge a fare for pre-booked journeys which are not required to
conform to the table of fares set by the Council.
3.62 This view was also expressed by the Justices’ Clerks’ Society. On the other
hand, a large number of consultees disagreed entirely with the idea of requiring
taxi drivers to make records of pre-bookings. These consultees tended to regard
54 See Chapter 10, para 10.33 to 10.39, in relation to operators, and Chapter 5, para 5.76 to
para 5.79 in relation to driver and vehicle licences.
55 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 53.
31
such a requirement as unnecessary given that taxis are already highly regulated
and can pick up passengers from the street with no need for a pre-booking. The
United Cabbies Group made the following points:
The UCG cannot see any good reason that this should be the case. A
Taxi driver takes numerous passengers on a hail or rank basis and
there is no reason these should be recorded as the taxi trade is
regulated. How would these bookings be scrutinised and by whom?
How would keeping a specific record of these pre arranged rides
affect the safety of a passenger? The fare a passenger pays? It is not
obvious what the advantages are. We fail to see the case for taxi
drivers recording their pre arranged work when the majority of the
work done by taxis is not required to be kept as a record.
Discussion
3.63 Our question concerned a general record-keeping requirement for pre-booked
taxi journeys. Stakeholders have pointed to the advantages of keeping records,
for example in regard to lost property and in resolving complaints. On the other
hand, we have considered some sound arguments against the introduction of
generalised record-keeping requirements for taxis. Requiring drivers to keep
records, where taxis are already subjected to additional local regulatory
requirements compared with private hire vehicles, may be regarded as an
unnecessary additional burden.
3.64 On balance, we think that imposing the burden of new record-keeping obligations
on taxis is only justified in the limited circumstances where this is necessary to
control the activities of taxis working out-of-area. The lawfulness of a taxi picking
up a passenger outside its licensing area depends entirely on the existence of a
valid pre-booking. As was noted by Cornwall Council and the Justices’ Clerks’
Society, such taxis are also outside fare regulation (and will remain so under our
recommendations), meaning that passengers may be at risk of exploitation. We
therefore recommend that record-keeping requirements should apply, in respect
of taxis picking up passengers outside their area.
3.65 As discussed below, taxis picking up out of area are not subject to local price
regulation or compellability. It is important to the integrity of the localism policy of
taxi regulation56 that out-of-area pick ups should be effectively controlled, and
subject to a uniform approach. We therefore recommend that taxis working out of
area (as well as private hire dispatchers)57 should be subject to pre-booking
requirements, so that a record of the journey must be kept and of the price and/or
estimate.58 The hirer would also have a right to be provided with an estimate of
the cost of the journey, if requested. Regulations may specify how the above
requirements may be fulfilled and any further features a valid taxi pre-booking
may be required to have, as part of national standards.
56 The policy that taxis should be subject to local standards.
57 We discuss the requirements to be imposed on dispatchers in Chapter 7 below.
58 As we shall discuss in the section on dispatchers from para 3.134 below, different rules
would apply where taxis were dispatched by a licensed operator. In these circumstances,
the taxi driver would be relieved of their record-keeping obligations and the requirements
above would apply to the licensed dispatcher instead.
32
3.66 This treatment both provides a means of ensuring that taxi out -of -area work is
undertaken lawfully and recognises that a taxi working out-of-area is working
within the same market as a private hire vehicle rather than the rank and hail
vehicles in that area.
Recommendation 7
We recommend that taxis picking up passengers outside their
licensing area should be subject to a pre-booking requirement,
which would be statutorily defined for the first time. This would
require provision of an estimate of the price for the journey in
advance, if requested, and record-keeping obligations. These
requirements could be further refined through national
standards as set by the Secretary of State.
3.67 This recommendation is given effect in the draft Bill by clauses 34, 35 and 36.
Recommendation 8
We do not recommend the introduction of recordkeeping requirements in respect of taxis except where they are
picking up passengers outside their licensing area.
UNOFFICIAL RANKS
3.68 During consultation stakeholders were very concerned about so-called unofficial
ranks: where private hire vehicles (or, indeed, out of area taxis) might park in a
line, or in the proximity of official ranks for local taxis, and take work from the
local taxi trade. Whereas such behaviour could amount to plying for hire under
current law, pursuant to our reforms this offence would no longer be available to
licensing officers wishing to discourage such behaviour. If any of these vehicles
actually carried or attempted to carry a passenger, they would be guilty of an
offence, but not before that point. Although prosecutions without an actual hiring
are, in practice, very rare (licensing officers typically only prosecute for plying for
hire following test purchase operations) it may be that the threat of prosecution
for plying for hire is a factor in deterring unofficial ranks.
3.69 The draft Bill provides licensing officers with a new power to require a vehicle to
move on in specified circumstances, which we consider will be more effective
than threatening prosecution for a plying for hire offence.59 The power would be
available to licensing officers who have been appropriately trained and,
accredited, and would be exercised in compliance with such requirements as
may be prescribed by the Secretary of State.60 Failure to comply with the
direction to move on would be an offence, and liable to a fine of up to £1,000.61
Importantly, it could lead to suspension or revocation of licence.
59 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 53.
60 We will discuss these new powers in more detail in Chapter 13 below.
61 This is a level 3 fine on the current standard scale of fines for summary offences, see s 37
of the Criminal Justice Act 1982.
33
Recommendation 9
We recommend that local authority stopping officers should
have a new enforcement power to require licensed vehicles to
move on where the officer considers that:
(a) there is a reasonable likelihood that the public may
believe the vehicle is available for immediate hire;
(b) the vehicle is causing an obstruction to traffic flow; or
(c) the driver is attempting to take work away from ranked
taxis.
3.70 This recommendation is given effect in the draft Bill by clause 53.
A NEW OFFENCE OF ACCEPTING A BOOKING “THERE AND THEN”
3.71 In our consultation paper, we asked whether there would be advantages to
adopting the Scottish approach to defining taxis by reference to “arrangements
made in a public place” instead of “plying for hire”.62 The response was mixed but
in general there was not a great deal of enthusiasm for this, and those who did
express some agreement were tentative. It was felt that defining concepts such
as a “public place” would not be any easier than defining plying for hire.
3.72 The Scottish definition has an important advantage over plying for hire in the area
of clarity and certainty: it only criminalises actual engagement with the passenger
(or a person acting for them), something that is relatively easy to prove. Plying for
hire, by contrast, involves making the vehicle available for immediate hire, giving
rise to scope for dispute over whether the defendant did so (with the result that
prosecutions are only in practice brought where the defendant’s conduct has
gone beyond mere plying for hire. We regard the provision used in Scotland as a
useful starting point to define a new offence making it unlawful for drivers to
accept an immediate hire. We provide for this in the draft Bill, at clause {aw 03}.
This makes it an offence for a driver to agree to use a vehicle as a hire vehicle on
a journey beginning there and then. It will be capable of being committed by
drivers other than taxi drivers licensed in the area where the pick up occurs, thus
covering private hire drivers and out of area taxi drivers as well as wholly
unlicensed vehicles.
3.73 Whether the journey was to start “there and then” would be a question of fact,
which we recognise may be difficult to prove other than by test purchasing. The
merit that we see in introducing the new offence is that it will be committed even
where the formalities of a statutory pre-booking are complied with, catching cases
where a driver goes through the motions of contacting an operator and setting up
a duly documented “pre-booking” only after the prospective passenger has
approached the driver. This is undesirable because the customer is already
captured before price information can be given; the lack of ability to compare
prices that characterises ranking and hailing, and justifies fare regulation, is just
as strong.
62 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 17.
34
Recommendation 10
We recommend introducing a new offence which makes it
unlawful for anyone other than a locally licensed taxi driver to
accept a booking for a journey starting there and then.
TAXI-ONLY REGULATORY RULES
3.74 The main characteristics of the regulatory framework which distinguish the way in
which taxis work compared to private hire services are:
(1) compellability;
(2) fare regulation; and
(3) ranks.
3.75 We discuss each in turn, except fare regulation, which we address in Chapter 9
below.
Compellability
3.76 Compellability is a key aspect of the regulatory framework for taxis. It ensures
that those taking short journeys or travelling to unpopular destinations are able to
travel. Where a taxi is waiting at a taxi rank or stops pursuant to a hail, the driver
is under a duty to take a passenger anywhere they might wish to go, within a
prescribed distance unless they have a reasonable excuse.63
3.77 In England and Wales outside London the “prescribed distance” is up to but not
beyond the boundaries of the licensing area.64 The licensing authority can
prescribe a smaller distance using bye laws.65 In London, the legislation instead
describes the extent of compellability as a distance:
not exceeding twelve miles from the place where the same shall have
been hired, or for any time not exceeding one hour from the time
when hired.66
3.78 Special provision is made for Heathrow Airport, where the relevant distance is
63 See Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 53; and in London the London Cab Order 1934, para
34. Reasonable excuse could cover situations where the prospective passenger was
smoking, drunk, or carrying hot food; by contrast, refusing to take a fare because the
distance is too short is unlawful.
64 Under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 the “prescribed” distance was the area specified
in a “special Act” as being that in which the taxi provisions applied. Section 171 of the
Public Health Act 1875 incorporated the provisions of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847,
applying it throughout urban areas. Section 15 of the Transport Act 1985 extended the taxi
provisions throughout England and Wales so they came to cover any part of a local
authority area where the provisions were not already in force. At that point the “prescribed
distance” effectively became the whole of the local authority area.
65 Town Police Clauses Act, 1847, s 53.
66 London Hackney Carriage Act 1853, ss 7 and 17(2).
35
extended to 20 miles.67
3.79 Whereas many users believe taxis are required to stop when hailed if they are
free, there is currently no such requirement; and compellability only applies
where a taxi is at a rank or has stopped pursuant to a hail.
Consultation
3.80 During consultation it became apparent that the exact scope of compellability is
not clear. We were aware that many passengers wrongly believed taxis to be
under a duty to stop when hailed. Compellability is currently subject to exceptions
if the taxi is already hired or if the driver has a reasonable excuse.68 Consultees
agreed that this should be retained but clarified. One taxi driver suggested that
exceptions should apply where the passenger has no money or where the
passenger is unfit to carry as they would soil the vehicle (for example if they are
wet or muddy). Others felt drivers should be able to refuse fares where they felt
that to take the passenger would endanger either driver or passenger. It was also
felt important that legislation clarify the point in time when compellability takes
effect (only upon having stopped for a passenger). There is clearly confusion
regarding the meaning of this important concept.
3.81 One respondent suggested that compellability should be extended to take
account of longer journeys. His suggestion was 50 miles from the point of pickup. He added that the fare for a journey ending beyond the compellable distance
should be on the meter until that point and negotiable thereafter. Another
suggested that compellability should apply equally to private hire vehicles.
Transport for London noted that the fact that compellability is restricted to
journeys within the licensing district causes problems at Heathrow Airport, where
drivers sometimes refuse journeys which would take them away from London.
They noted that “there is an argument that drivers must accept any journey within
the compellable distance regardless of the destination.”
3.82 Consultees tended to agree with the proposal that compellability should no longer
depend upon whether or not a vehicle is on the street. Concerns were raised that
retaining this term would allow private hire vehicles to effectively take immediate
work from areas of private land such as car parks.
3.83 Consultation highlighted a significant problem in respect of drivers discriminating
between passengers. The issue is particularly serious in relation to disabled
passengers.69 Although taxi drivers, as providers of a service, are under an
obligation not to discriminate in the provision of that service,70 we heard of many
instances of disabled passengers being ignored or refused carriage by taxi
drivers. This applies particularly to people in wheelchairs, blind people and those
67 London Cab Order 1972, SI 1972 No 1047.
68 Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 53; London Hackney Carriage Act 1853, ss 7 and 17(2).
69 See this recent example http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2286553/Taxi-driver-finedrefusing-pick-blind-couple-dogs-didnt-want-leather-seats.html (last visited 16 May 2014).
Although this related to a pre-booking, we have heard many examples of taxi drivers
refusing to stop or accept a fare at a rank if a passenger is disabled. Refusing to take an
assistance dog in a taxi or private hire vehicle is already an offence under the Equality Act
2010, ss 168 to 171.
36
with assistance dogs. We have been told of incidents where disabled people
have had to wait around corners whilst their non-disabled friends hailed taxis for
them; have felt obliged to hide their white stick when hailing a taxi; where taxis
have driven away from the front of the rank to avoid taking them; or disabled
people have been left stranded because available taxis have not stopped for
them. These incidents are clearly very upsetting. There is very little the
passenger can do in this situation: a moving vehicle is likely to be going too fast
for them to note any details which might assist in making a complaint.
Discussion
THE EXTENT OF COMPELLABILITY
3.84 Compellability is clearly a very important concept and should be retained. As with
current law, under our recommendations the extent of compellability should, as a
default position, extend to the entire licensing area.71 The licensing authority
would have the power to issue rules locally (but without the need to use bye laws)
to express compellability as either a time or a distance from the point of hire, or to
the boundaries of a licensing zone for example.72 This approach could be used to
preserve the current position in London, with compellability extending to twelve
miles from the point of hire. In order to address the problems that can arise where
journeys occur at the borders of licensing areas we propose that licensing
authorities should also have the power to set the compellable distance at up to
seven miles beyond the boundaries of the licensing area,73 and 20 miles in the
case of Transport for London (building on its current powers in respect of
journeys originating at Heathrow airport).74
3.85 We considered the different situations in which drivers may be justified in refusing
to take a passenger, and the current formulation used in England and Wales
including London, such that drivers can avoid compellability for “reasonable
excuse” is appropriate and should be retained.
3.86 It is important that the extent of compellability should coincide with fare
regulation, because otherwise a passenger could be effectively denied a journey
simply by a driver requesting a very high price for it. We discuss how our
recommendations ensure appropriate consumer protection by aligning
compellability and fare regulation in Chapter 9 below.
70 Equality Act 2010, Part 3.
71 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 30.
72 We discuss zoning in Chapter 10.
73 This is a change in England and Wales outside London, where the prescribed distance has
been limited to the licensing area.
74 Under the London Cab Order 1972, SI 1972 No 1047, the distance is expressed as 20
miles from the point of hire for journeys originating in Heathrow. The power in the draft Bill
is drafted in broader terms but would allow at least the same outcome to be achieved.
37
Recommendation 11
We recommend that compellability should be retained in its
current form. It should be open to licensing authorities to
express compellability as a time or distance from the point of
hire, or as extending to the boundaries of a licensing zone.
Licensing authorities should also be able to extend the
compellable distance up to seven miles beyond the boundary of
the licensing area, or twenty miles in the case of Transport for
London.
3.87 This is achieved by clause 30 of our draft Bill.
DUTY TO STOP WHEN HAILED
3.88 We recommend that compellability be complemented by a duty to stop, where a
hailed taxi is displaying its availability for hire (for example, through a lit roof sign)
in accordance with taxi standards that may apply either as part of national
standards or as part of local conditions of licence.
3.89 A taxi driver should be under a duty to stop for passengers if it is safe to do so.
This means that if a passenger hails a cab at a junction where it would be
dangerous to stop, or if the person is drunk and disorderly, there would be no
obligation to stop.
3.90 A duty to stop can only be meaningful if the relevant vehicle has a means of
displaying its availability. Under our reforms, in areas where a taxi is required to
signal its availability for hire (whether by national standards or by local conditions)
licensing authorities will have the power to make a determination that in their
areas, taxis should be under a duty to stop when hailed.75 In such areas, it would
be an offence for a taxi driver to ignore a hail without reasonable excuse.76 In
London, taxis that are available for hire are currently required to keep their light
on in hours of darkness;77 national standards and local standard-setting powers
will be broad enough to apply a condition that vehicles must display their
availability throughout the day. Further, the requirement to display a taxi’s
availability could be part of the national minimum standards for taxis, as part of
the Secretary of State’s remit to promote accessibility.78
3.91 We recognise that the duty to stop may be difficult to enforce, for the same
reasons that it is currently difficult for a passenger to provide evidence to support
a complaint that they have been discriminated against. On the other hand,
“mystery shopper” operations by enforcement officers could be effective in this
75 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 29(1)(d).
76 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 29(2).
77 London Cab Order 1934, para 38(3).
78 The requirement to make it clear that a taxi is not in service can be very valuable as an
enforcement tool in respect of out of area taxis (being used as private hire vehicles), or if a
taxi is returning from an out of area drop-off. If a taxi had its light on out of area, for
example, it would be hard to deny that it was illegally seeking work.
38
context. Furthermore, we think that this modification could help to change
attitudes towards the provision of services for disabled persons. It would also be
reinforced by our recommendation that all drivers of both taxis and private hire
vehicles should undergo disability awareness training. We deal further with
accessibility of taxis and private hire vehicles to disabled passengers in Chapter
12 below.
Recommendation 12
Licensing authorities should have the power to make a
determination that in their areas, taxis should be under a duty to
stop when hailed. In such areas, it would be an offence for a taxi
driver in a vehicle displaying a “for hire” sign to fail to stop in
response to a hail, without reasonable excuse.
3.92 This recommendation is achieved by clause 29 of our draft Bill.
Ranks
3.93 The use of official ranks is a privilege exclusive to taxis, and it is an offence for
any other vehicle to use them.79 Local licensing authorities have the power to
create taxi ranks (also known as “hackney carriage stands”) in their area,80
subject to a number of procedural requirements.
3.94 Licensing fees can be used to provide ranks, with the important restriction in
England and Wales (outside London) that only the fees from taxi vehicle, private
hire vehicle and operator licences, as opposed to driver licensing fees, can be
used.81 By contrast, Transport for London has a broad discretion as to the
purposes to which licence fees for all types of taxi vehicle and driver licences can
be put.
3.95 During consultation, the trades highlighted problems in getting new ranks
designated in areas where they felt these were needed. We have therefore
reviewed the rules relating to the designation of ranks to consider whether
changes might be necessary.
3.96 We propose largely to retain the current law relating to the procedures for the
appointment of ranks. However, we consider that licensing authorities should be
under a duty to consider whether new ranks should be appointed, or current ones
moved or removed, on a periodic basis not exceeding every three years. This
should be combined with a duty to consult on the need to alter rank provision, but
leaving the form of consultation flexible, and to be determined at a local level.
3.97 We have also concluded that it would be beneficial to remove the limits existing
outside London on the uses to which driver licence fees may be devoted, so that
these too may be used in respect of ranks if desired. The changes we
79 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 64.
80 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. s 63. In London, Transport for
London has the power to appoint ranks under the London Hackney Carriages Act 1850, s
4.
81 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss 70(1)(b) and s 53(2).
39
recommend in respect of licensing fees, discussed in Chapter 9, would permit
this.
Recommendation 13
Licensing authorities should be under a duty to consult on the
need to alter rank provision and to consider whether new ranks
should be appointed, or current ones moved or removed, on a
periodic basis not exceeding every three years.
3.98 Clause 26 of our draft Bill gives effect to this recommendation.
INTERMEDIARIES
3.99 In respect of private hire vehicles, the interposition of a licensed operator, so that
customers do not deal directly with private hire drivers in arranging bookings, is
mandatory under the current law. This will remain the case under our
recommendations. However, as regards both taxi and private hire services, a
number of third parties other than a licensed operator may be involved in booking
a pre-arranged journey. Customers frequently rely on third parties to arrange their
journeys. The levels of involvement of the intermediary and the degree of
formality in the arrangement may vary, ranging from an aggregator website
providing information about different taxi and private hire companies82 to a hotel
concierge offering to arrange a journey for a customer. Events management
companies and travel agents may play a part in arranging taxi or private hire
journeys.
3.100 Taxi radio circuits represent an important means through which pre-booked taxi
journeys can be arranged. Many companies hold accounts with such circuits and
rely on them to transport their employees, for example. In recent years,
smartphone applications such as Hailo83 have also become popular ways of prearranging taxi journeys. Customers can request a taxi by opening the app on their
phone, which then displays a map of the customer’s current location. The
customer can select the pick up point, and whether to pay by cash or card. If
there is an available taxi using Hailo which accepts the job, the customer can
track the taxi’s approach in real time.
3.101 Some of these intermediaries, and smartphone applications in particular, do not
always occupy a clear space within the regulatory framework, sometimes leading
to confusion about the proper reach of licensing, and the extent to which taxi and
private hire licensing rules might cover their activities.
3.102 In the consultation paper, we suggested that operator licensing should not be
extended to cover intermediaries more generally than at present. This was
because we felt that there was sufficient protection in the fact that customers who
choose to use the services of an intermediary can protect themselves through
contractual arrangements. In addition, the operator or driver ultimately engaged
would remain both liable to the customer and subject to regulation. Moreover,
82 See for example Kabbee, at https://www.kabbee.com/Default.aspx (last visited 19 May
2014).
40
“intermediaries” who in fact dispatched private hire vehicles directly, without
being licensed, would be in breach of our proposed scheme of operator
regulation.
Consultation
3.103 This proposal proved popular with a majority of consultees who felt that it would
be over-regulatory to extend operator licensing to further categories of
intermediaries, provided that they did not put consumers at risk. These
consultees tended to clarify that by “intermediary” they meant someone who does
not provide any services beyond communicating with a licensed operator.
For example, Birmingham City Council said that:
Where the intermediaries are merely contacting a licensed
operator and in effect acting only as the “agent” of the customer, then
this is not an activity worthy of regulation.
3.104 The London Taxi Company similarly saw no reason to include intermediaries
within the definition of operators, so long as they remained “middlemen” and did
not provide private hire services themselves.
3.105 Some consultees noted that the current definition of an operator is ambiguous as
to how far it covers intermediaries. Transport for London raised this in the context
of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, and explained that it had chosen
not to require licensing where an intermediary (such as a website or app) merely
“puts passengers in direct contact with a licensed operator who accepts the
booking”. However, it felt that:
It is often unclear as to whether the contract is being made with
the intermediary who then effectively sub-contracts the booking,
or directly with the licensed operator.
3.106 Transport for London therefore proposed the following overriding principle:
The licence structure should allow the passenger to know exactly
who is responsible for providing their journey and in this context the
audit trail from the passenger through intermediaries to the service
provider must be wholly transparent.
3.107 Birmingham City Council also agreed that records should be transparent, to
assist with enforcement. The National Association of Licensing Enforcement
Officers felt that operator licensing should not be extended to cover all
intermediaries.
3.108 A number of consultees disagreed, and considered that intermediaries should
be licensed. The United Cabbies Group was concerned about the effect which
price competition promoted by applications and other innovative intermediaries,
unburdened by licensing requirements, might have on the market – they feared
83 At the time of writing, Hailo is available in London, but not other parts of England and
Wales. Hailo is also present in cities abroad, including Dublin and New York.
41
that this might drive down standards.84 The National Taxi Association was
concerned that intermediaries might misuse passengers’ personal data.
Discussion
3.109 Third parties arranging a booking play a very important role in delivering for-hire
services to the public. Although we have suggested that persons merely
accepting, inviting or placing bookings (but not involved in dispatching the driver)
should not require an operator licence, this does not mean they should have no
responsibility at all. We think persons inviting, accepting or placing bookings in
the course of business should be criminally liable if they knew or had reason to
suspect that the person to whom they passed the booking would use unlicensed
drivers, vehicles or operators.85 There should be no liability where the booking
was passed on to someone who reasonably appeared to be licensed.
3.110 If the booking is passed on to another intermediary (other than a licensed
operator or a driver) the first intermediary accepting, inviting or placing the
booking might still be liable for this offence.86 Moreover, we do not wish to
prejudice any other rights the hirer may have against that third party, including
contractual remedies
3.111 The offence should only apply to things done in the course of business. Some
seemingly informal interactions should be covered, such as where a waiter or
doorman places a booking on behalf of a client.87
3.112 We recommend that national standards set by the Secretary of State should
impose a duty on licensing authorities to publish a list of licensed operators,
drivers and vehicles for their area so they may be verified. Many licensing
authorities already make details of licensed operators available on their websites.
Recommendation 14
We recommend that those acting in the course of a business
who pass taxi or private hire bookings to providers who they
know or suspect to be unlicensed should be guilty of an offence.
3.113 This is achieved by clause 12 of our draft Bill.
TAXI RADIO CIRCUITS
3.114 Third parties inviting, accepting or making provision specifically for taxi bookings
84 The Private Hire Board expressed similar concerns.
85 If the intermediary passed on the booking directly to a driver they would need a dispatcher
licence, unless the driver held a taxi licence.
86 In London, where sub-contracting is permitted, Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s
5(5) expressly provides that even where work is sub-contracted, the operator who took the
booking remains liable.
87 We recommend that if an employee, such as a waiter in a restaurant, made such
arrangements, criminal responsibility should attach to them personally, although their
employer may be liable in civil damages, for example for negligent performance of the
task.
42
are referred to in the trade as “radio circuits”.88 Radio circuits do not require a
licence under current law. In the consultation paper we asked in particular
whether licensing should be extended to cover them.89
Consultation
3.115 Responses to this question were somewhat mixed, although a majority were
in favour of adding some regulatory requirements. Some consultees who thought
that taxi radio circuit operators should be licensed noted that they have a publicfacing role and so can affect the quality of service a person receives. Mrs J
Lumley, a disabled taxi user, was concerned that:
If a taxi booking office takes a dislike to a caller they can decide not
to broadcast the request. Thus leaving the customer waiting ages
and not knowing what is going on and being stranded. That
customer could well be somebody with learning difficulties.
3.116 One consultee, All Night Cars (a mixed taxi and private hire operator) felt that
taxi radio circuits should be licensed because the consumer has no choice over
the car which is sent to them, whereas they can decide not to take the first taxi in
a rank. They also felt that a record should be kept in case of disputes.
3.117 Some regulators considered that they currently had insufficient powers to deal
with radio circuit operators. Both Rushmoor Borough Council and City of York
Council noted that the lack of a requirement to keep records causes enforcement
problems. Even where taxi radio circuits keep records, there is no obligation on
them to provide these to licensing authorities. Birmingham City Council saw this
absence of a licensing requirement as an anomaly, given that where a private
hire operator runs a mixed fleet of private hire and hackney carriage vehicles it is
legally required to maintain records pertaining to bookings undertaken by all their
vehicles.
3.118 On the other hand, many consultees regarded regulating taxi radio circuit
operators as unnecessary, as taxis are already highly regulated and the radio
circuit operator has much less control than a private hire operator over the car
sent. These consultees tended to view the radio operator as more akin to an
agent. ComCab Liverpool expressed this view as follows:
Taxi circuits are acting solely as agencies in passing working
taxi drivers selected trips which they can choose to cover, or not. As
the regulation surrounding taxis, especially in London, is robust
and covers not only the drivers, vehicles but also the fares, and
the drivers are receiving comparatively little of their work from the
circuits, there appears to be no great need nor benefit of requiring
those circuits to meet the same requirements as private hire
operators.
3.119 The London Taxi Company (manufacturer of the London “black cab”) expressed
88 Notwithstanding the name, modern radio circuits use booking systems based on internet
and GPS technology.
89 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 49.
43
a similar view:
Radio circuits only account for less then 30% of a taxi driver’s
daily workload which cannot compare to the 100% a private hire
driver’s workload. Radio circuits operate more like agencies that offer
work to driver who can decide to accept or refuse that work, while
private hire operators have a degree of compellability over a driver
who will not earn anything if they don’t accept the job. We also feel
that, as taxi drivers will be subject to a stricter licensing regime, radio
circuits will not need to assume the same degree of responsibility as
private hire operators.
3.120 ComCab Liverpool also argued that most taxi radio circuits are selfregulating, with good systems in place already:
In any case most taxi circuits, ComCab Liverpool included,
maintain strong and auditable systems to manage the drivers and
vehicles that subscribe to their circuit. Job details are equally well
maintained, so it is difficult to see what benefits would be gained from
additional bureaucracy. Circuits have existed for 50 years with
compliance, management and service to the public perfectly well
served by the current structure of the circuits.
3.121 Transport for London also argued against licensing taxi radio circuits, feeling
that this would be over-burdensome as well as unnecessary.
Discussion
3.122 We do not recommend introducing a requirement for taxi radio circuits to be
licensed. It is true that, functionally, the role of radio circuits (and, more
recently, smartphone applications working with taxis) is very similar to that
fulfilled by operators in respect of private hire vehicles. Under the current system,
both take bookings from the public and both dispatch vehicles.
3.123 There are two key rationales for licensing private hire operators discussed further
in the next section. First, their dispatch role is key to maintaining the distinction
between taxis and private hire vehicles. Second, operators play an important role
in enforcing private hire licensing requirements. They can only dispatch
appropriately licensed vehicles and drivers, and there needs to be an incentive
for them to ensure that regulatory requirements are met. In a regime of licensing
this incentive is heightened by the fact that an operator’s entire business
operation could be affected by a failure to ensure compliance. Their role also
provides a helpful economy of scale for those charged with enforcement: through
operators, licensing officers have access to the details of numerous drivers,
vehicles and the jobs they have undertaken.
3.124 Neither of these rationales applies in the same way to providers that only work
with licensed taxis. This is because radio circuits have much less control over
their fleet, as taxi drivers are free to take bookings independently and pick up off
the street. Customers could contact a taxi driver directly without breaking any
legal requirement. When a radio circuit dispatches a vehicle it is therefore doing
no more than passengers could do themselves and thus acting as an agent. This
is unlike the situation with private hire vehicles where it would be illegal for the
44
passenger to contact the driver directly, and the involvement of the private hire
operator is necessary to make the journey a lawful one.
3.125 As with private hire operators, there is a legitimate concern that taxi radio
circuit operators have access to individuals’ personal data. However, their
obligations not to misuse such data are covered by the criminal law and data
protection legislation. Similarly, the new approach to operators, under which they
would be defined as “dispatchers”,90 would no longer directly cover the collection
of bookings from passengers, and they too would no longer be regulated by
licensing authorities in that regard.
3.126 Overall, we suggest the services of radio taxi circuits and private hire
operators are only superficially similar and that no specific provision relating
specifically to radio circuits is required. Although in the private hire scenario, the
customer is relying on the booking agent to provide critical information necessary
to make the journey legal (details of the licensed operator, and the up front price
information), the same is not true for a taxi. Any local taxi could legally take the
passenger for the journey, without qualifications regarding the mode of
engagement. Furthermore we recognise that taxis are generally regulated to a
higher level.
3.127 Although licensing authorities have highlighted the potential usefulness of
being able to require radio circuits to disclose their records when
investigating complaints, we do not regard this as a sufficient justification for
imposing a new record-keeping obligation.
Recommendation 15
We do not propose to require intermediaries working solely with
licensed taxis (which we refer to as “radio circuits”) to be
licensed.
PRIVATE HIRE OPERATOR LICENSING
3.128 In our consultation paper, we provisionally proposed that operator licensing
should be retained as mandatory in respect of private hire vehicles.91 We
acknowledged, however, that operators do not come into direct (physical) contact
with the public; and that both the driver and vehicle are separately regulated. The
scope and rationale for operator licensing therefore needs to be carefully
considered. Further, it is important to match the rationale for licensing operators
with the scope of their legal definition.
Consultation
3.129 An overwhelming majority of respondents agreed with our proposal. In general,
they favoured high operator standards and many argued that the current
standards were not sufficiently stringent. Most of those who agreed with the
90 See from para 3.134 below.
91 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 48.
45
proposal did not make substantive comments. They perhaps felt the reasons to
be self-evident. However, those who did make comments noted that operators
have many important responsibilities, such as record-keeping, and that operators
are a vital point of contact in the event of an incident involving one of their drivers.
Transport for London endorsed what we said in the consultation paper,
and emphasised the importance of operator licensing for crime prevention. David
Wilson, a licensing consultant, said that licensing should take into account the
amount of personal information to which operators and their staff have access.
3.130 One consultee, Entirely Airports (a private hire operator), felt that operator
licensing was unduly burdensome, since drivers themselves had to undergo tests
similar to those imposed on taxi drivers, while operators were not required for taxi
drivers. Along the same lines, Daventry District Council felt that it was illogical to
require private hire operators to be licensed, as a licence is not required to take
pre-bookings for taxis.
3.131 Some of those who supported removal of the operator licensing requirement
did so as part of more general support for a one-tier system.
Discussion
3.132 The more general point which emerged from consultation is that it is not possible
to have a workable two-tier system without operator licensing. We remain
strongly of the view that operator licensing should be retained as mandatory in
respect of private hire services. We have noted above the important role of
operators in ensuring compliance; something that should be incentivised by their
being subjected to regulatory enforcement and the sanction of possible loss of
their licence. Operators can make sure drivers and vehicles are properly licensed
and safe; their premises provide a permanent, traceable base which is also
useful for enforcement. Operators are also one of the key differences between
taxi services and private hire services. Operators control the provision of the prebooked service through recording passenger and journey details, and selecting
the driver and vehicle.92 Overall, we were persuaded that operators are an
essential feature of the two-tier system and we have recommended that they
should continue to be subject to licensing.
3.133 We propose that dispatch by a licensed operator should continue to be a
necessary feature of any private hire journey. Consequently, it would be an
offence for a private hire driver93 to accept a hiring to undertake a journey from
anyone else, such as by accepting a job directly from passengers or unlicensed
third parties. For the reasons we give next, we consider the range of functions
requiring a licence should be reduced; for that reason our draft Bill refers to
“dispatchers”.
92 We discussed the justifications for operator licensing more fully in our consultation paper,
at paras 16.25 to 16.29.
93 This is without prejudice to the possibility of a private hire driver also holding an operator
licence. In this case, no offence would be committed provided other requirements were
complied with.
46
Recommendation 16
We recommend that licensed operators (in future to be referred
to in legislation as “dispatchers”) should be retained as a
necessary element of the regulation of private hire services.
A NEW OPERATOR DEFINITION BASED ON DISPATCH FUNCTIONS
3.134 Having established that in principle we support the licensing of private hire
operators, we now consider the appropriate scope of their regulated functions.
3.135 Under current law, private hire operators are defined very widely: “operate”
means “in the course of business to make provision for the invitation or
acceptance of bookings for a private hire vehicle”. This is true throughout
England and Wales, including London.94 It is an offence to “operate” (as so
defined) any vehicle as a private hire vehicle without an operator’s licence from
the relevant licensing authority.95
3.136 The breadth of the current definition has created numerous grey areas, as there
is a lack of clarity over whether some services should be licensed. It is also
problematic in that it brings within the scope of licensing many individuals and
organisations whose actions do not conform with the rationale for licensing. The
justifications for operator licensing relate to their supply-side function of
dispatching licensed drivers and vehicles. The operator has discretion over which
vehicle and driver is used, and is responsible for ensuring the driver and vehicle
are licensed and that there is a valid private hire pre-booking. By contrast, the
fact of “accepting or inviting” the original booking, without actually dispatching the
vehicle, does not appear to correlate with any meaningful control over the fleet.
3.137 Recent years have seen the development and expansion of technological
methods of booking, such as internet aggregators, which retrieve quotes from
many providers, and smartphone applications. These often only take bookings
and pass them on to an operator, and have no involvement or responsibility for
dispatching a vehicle and driver. It is over-burdensome to subject businesses
only involved in accepting bookings to the same level of regulation as “dispatch”
operators who have responsibilities in relation to exclusively using licensed
vehicles and drivers.
3.138 The operator definition should therefore be narrower than the current definition to
identify more accurately the function which needs to be regulated. It will now
relate solely to the act of dispatching a driver and vehicle to carry out the
regulated activity, rather than the fact of merely “inviting or accepting” a booking.
3.139 “Dispatching” occurs where a person acting in the course of business, requests a
driver to fulfil a hire-vehicle booking; and the driver accepts. As is already the
case under current law, it would be an offence to dispatch an unlicensed vehicle
94 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 80(1); and Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 1(1)(b). Indeed, London goes further, and includes the actual
acceptance of bookings (in addition to making provision for it) within the definition of
operators’ licensed activities.
95 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 46(1)(d) and 80(1); and Private
Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 2.
47
or driver.96 It would also be an offence to dispatch a private hire vehicle97 unless
the person held a dispatcher’s licence.98 As we noted above in respect of taxi
radio circuits, dispatching a licensed taxi99 would continue to be an unregulated
activity.100
3.140 We note that the revised definition of operators as “dispatchers” no longer covers
the acceptance and invitation of bookings. Where the person that accepts the
booking does not dispatch the driver, no dispatcher licence is required. However,
if a person acting in the course of business accepts a hire vehicle booking, and
the booking is fulfilled, a presumption will arise that the individual or company
accepting the booking dispatched the driver.101 The presumption ensures that
those who accept bookings are held accountable because, unless they can show
that they passed on the booking to a licensed dispatcher or taxi driver, they will
be presumed to be the “dispatcher” in respect of the relevant journey.
3.141 The licensing status of the providers of smartphone applications offering private
hire services to the public would depend on how they work. If the application
does no more than accept a booking, and then passes it on to a licensed
dispatcher, no additional dispatcher licence is needed for the application
providers. If instead, the application has responsibility for the dispatch of a driver
and vehicle, the providers of the application would be required to hold a
dispatcher licence.
3.142 Intermediaries such as smartphone applications which may accept hire vehicle
bookings and pass them on to dispatchers will be subject to certain obligations
under our reforms. Any person accepting a booking in respect of a private hire
journey will be under a duty to provide information to the hirer about who they
passed the booking on to.102 This duty, alongside the presumption that persons
accepting hire vehicle bookings also dispatched the driver,103 help ensure that the
dispatcher for any particular journey can be identified.
96 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 10.
97 And licensed private hire driver.
98 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 9. If the dispatcher reasonably believed
the driver and vehicle to be appropriately licensed as private hire services, that would be a
defence: see clause 10(2)(b).
99 And appropriately licensed taxi driver.
100 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 9(3) and 10(2).
101 The prosecution would have to prove both that the person accepted the booking, and that
the booking was fulfilled.
102 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 43.
103 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 11.
48
Recommendation 17
We recommend that operator licensing should only cover
dispatch functions, and no longer apply to the invitation or
acceptance of bookings as such. However, if it is shown that an
individual or company accepted a hire vehicle booking, a
presumption should arise that that person also “dispatched” the
driver. This ensures the continued accountability of those who,
in the course of business, accept hire vehicle bookings from the
public.
Recommendation 18
It should be an offence, in the course of business, to dispatch an
unlicensed vehicle or driver. It would also be an offence for a
person to dispatch a private hire vehicle and driver unless that
person holds a dispatcher’s licence. It would be a defence if the
driver and vehicle were reasonably believed to hold appropriate
taxi licences.
3.143 This is achieved by clauses 9, 10 and 11 of the draft Bill.
Recommendation 19
Persons accepting a hire vehicle booking in the course of
business should be under a duty to provide information to the
hirer in respect of any person to whom they passed the booking.
3.144 This is given effect by clause 43 of the draft Bill.
3.145 An accompanying diagram setting out the requirements to be complied with in
providing taxi and private hire services, in flowchart form, can be found on our
website.104
TECHNOLOGY
3.146 It has become common to refer to “electronic hails”, where customers use
smartphone applications to engage a taxi or private hire vehicle.105 Over half of
London’s cabs can be booked using smartphone applications.106 Electronic prebookings can be very fast, and the vehicle could be described as being
immediately available for hire. We have referred to the taxi application, Hailo,
above. Private hire services also use the internet and smartphone technology,
ranging from more traditional private hire firms that also have telephone booking
services, such as Addison Lee,107 Delta108 and Blueline;109 to those that only
104 http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/areas/taxi-and-private-hire-services.htm.
105 Transport for London now provides information about apps – see
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/taxisandminicabs/taxis/26182.aspx (last visited 19 May
2014).
106 See for example http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/fare-fight-its-uber-v-hailov-addison-lee-in-the-londons-taxi-wars-9064289.html (last visited 19 May 2014).
107 http://www.addisonlee.com/ (last visited 19 May 2014).
49
operate online booking facilities, such as Uber.110
3.147 Some types of application allow the user to book with a specified provider,
inputting their route and receiving a price estimate and pick up time. Such
applications often allow the customer to rate their experience following the
journey. This can be contrasted with comparison applications such as Kabbee.
Someone using this application would input the details of their journey and be
given a number of quotes from different providers, as well as estimates of how
quickly a vehicle could pick them up. The user can then access the provider
directly through the application, in order to book. Often users will already know
the providers available, and so be able to form their own judgment as to the
quality of service offered.
3.148 A further addition to the marketplace allows customers to make ad hoc
ridesharing arrangements with other users using smartphone applications such
as SideCar. This can take place very quickly. We consider the place of car
pooling in our reformed framework in Chapter 4.
3.149 Because of the speed with which smartphone applications can work, it may seem
that the distinction between pre-booking (a required characteristic of private hire
work) and hailing (the exclusive preserve of the taxi trade) is being eroded. While
the customer experience may be similar at the point of use, our view is that the
regulatory context remains distinct.
Consultation
3.150 Most stakeholders agreed with our provisional proposal that technological means
of engaging passengers should not be assimilated to hailing and ranking.111 This
general support seemed to stem from an acceptance that legislation should be
updated to take account of modern technology.
3.151 However, some respondents (mainly taxi drivers) had concerns about precisely
what technology was capable of. Manchester Cab Committee argued that:
If an app merely alerts the user to a nearby or approaching vehicle
and allows the customer to engage it, that is a hail.
3.152 This view was shared by the United Cabbies Group, for example, who felt that
technology could replicate the visual presence and illuminated light of a taxi.
They noted examples such as Bluetooth technology which “pushes” messages
about the availability of vehicles to anyone connected to Bluetooth in the vicinity,
as well as quick response code readers which, when the code is used,
immediately summon a vehicle to that spot. Some stakeholders considered that
there should be an imposed time-lapse before a private hire operator could
dispatch a vehicle.
108 http://www.deltataxis.net/ (last visited 19 May 2014).
109 http://www.bluelinetaxis.com/ (last visited 19 May 2014).
110 https://www.uber.com/cities/london (last visited 19 May 2014).
111 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 16.
50
Discussion
3.153 In the above examples the consumer may not feel that there is much difference
between tapping a finger on a screen and raising a hand to hail a cab.112
However, from an economic perspective, the buying power of the consumer in
the two situations (line of sight hailing versus technologically-assisted hailing) can
be significantly different.
3.154 The first point to note is that a customer choosing to use a smartphone
application has a choice amongst several providers on the internet. If the
customer were to have an unsatisfactory experience they may select a different
provider the next time. That is different from hailing a taxi or waiting at a rank,
where the customer exercises no choice in respect of the vehicle they use. In
contrast to traditional hailing, the consumer using the internet has strong
consumer choice.
3.155 We consider that the principles that we have already outlined should apply to the
use of internet technology and that no special reference to internet-based
methods of engaging taxi and private hire services is required in our draft Bill.
3.156 In short, fare regulation and restriction of the activity to local licensed taxis should
apply where there is no practical scope for price and quality comparisons but not
otherwise. Conversely, where fare regulation does not apply, pre-booking and
advance price information should be required both as a tool of enforcement and
to give an opportunity for meaningful price comparisons to be made. These
principles should apply equally where the means of communication involves the
internet as where it does not.
3.157 We agree with the point made by consultees that an application that alerts the
user to a nearby or approaching vehicle, using Bluetooth push notifications for
example, offering the vehicle for hire, is comparable to manual hailing. Indeed,
depending how the notifications worked, and whether the customer had
consented to receiving such notifications in advance, this might amount to
unlawful touting, an offence which is preserved under our reforms.113 Under the
current law, such behaviour would probably amount to plying for hire, and be
restricted to local taxis. This would continue to be true pursuant to our
recommendations. This is because although we abandon the concept of plying
for hire, a lawful private hire journey must involve a request to fulfil the journey by
a licensed dispatcher (and not directly from the customer).114 Further, it must
comply with statutory pre-booking requirements. This means that the licensed
dispatcher must make appropriate records before the journey begins (including of
the estimated price of the journey and the identity of the hirer, in such form as the
Secretary of State may prescribe). Moreover, private hire drivers are prohibited
112 See, for example, references to so-called “e-hails” in the media
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/08/us-usa-newyork-taxisidUSBRE9270YK20130308 (last visited 19 May 2014).
113 We discuss touting in Chapter 13 below.
114 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 8.
51
from accepting a hiring “there and then”.115
3.158 The result of our approach is that an application or other intermediary is bound by
the regulatory system we have established. The application must choose whether
to use the taxi market or the private hire market. If they use the former, there will
be no obligation to be licensed as a dispatcher or to use a dispatcher to fulfil a
booking, but fare regulation and other conditions will apply to the vehicle. Any
record-keeping obligations would be those appropriate to taxis, not private hire
vehicles. If the choice is to use private hire, then fare regulation and local taxi
conditions do not apply, but the regulatory apparatus of private hire is engaged.
3.159 We have suggested that the critical legal factor distinguishing taxis from private
hire services should relate to the involvement of a licensed operator/dispatcher,
together with the pre-booking requirements that such dispatchers should comply
with, as discussed above. Provided these conditions are met, and the driver does
not take an active part in the booking (contrary to our new offence of accepting a
booking there and then), the purported grey areas currently occupied by “ehailing” in respect of plying for hire would no longer exist.
115 If the vehicle or driver were wholly unlicensed, the even more serious offence of
undertaking a for hire journey without licences would apply, see draft Taxis and Private
Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 4.
52
CHAPTER 4
DEFINITIONS AND SCOPE
INTRODUCTION
4.1 In this chapter we discuss our recommendations regarding the scope of
regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles. In it we cover the geographical extent
of the legislation and the types of vehicles covered, including the interface with
public service vehicle licensing. We also make recommendations about the role
of licensing where transport is offered in connection with other services, such as
by child minders or in courtesy cars. Finally, we make recommendations about
how to deal with exemptions from the taxi and private hire licensing system.1

GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE
4.2 Under current law, London has its own legislation governing taxis and private hire
services, administered by Transport for London.2
This is separate from the
legislation applying elsewhere in England and Wales, with the exception of
Plymouth, which also has its own legislation.3

4.3 London has important unique characteristics by virtue of its size, economic
affluence and population density. London has the largest taxi and private hire
market in England and Wales, with nearly one third of all taxi and private hire
vehicles in England and Wales being licensed in London.4
Unlike the rest of
England and Wales, where licensing is administered by local borough or district
councils and unitary authorities, taxi and private hire licensing in London is
centrally administered by Transport for London.
4.4 From the outset it has been clear that Plymouth should be included within any
new legislation.5
Plymouth City Council has told us that it would be happy to be
included. However, the issue of whether London should be included within a
reformed framework was much more controversial. Most of the substantive
1
A diagram setting out the effect of our recommendations in respect of the scope of taxi,
private hire and public service vehicle licensing, in flowchart form, is available on our
website: http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/areas/taxi-and-private-hire-services.htm.
2
See, in particular, Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869; London Hackney Carriage Acts
1831, 1842, 1850 and 1853; London Cab and Stage Carriage Act 1907; Transport for
London 2008; Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.
3
In Plymouth taxi and private hire services are governed by the Plymouth City Council Act
1975. The remainder of England and Wales is governed by the same taxi and private hire
statutes (the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and the Local Government (Miscellaneous
Provisions) Act 1976).
4
London is home to 31% of the 231,000 licensed vehicles of England and Wales
(Department for Transport, Taxi and Private Hire Statistics 2013, at
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/226355/taxiprivate-hire-statistics-2013.pdf (last visited 19 May 2014)). According to the latest statistics
published by Transport for London, there are currently 25,597 licensed taxi drivers in
London of whom 21,914 can ply for hire anywhere in London (“All London” drivers) and
3,683 are licensed to ply for hire in certain suburban areas only.
5
The exclusion of Plymouth was a result of historical anomaly rather than a deliberate
decision. The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 (which applies
elsewhere in England and Wales) was modelled on the Plymouth City Council Act 1975.
53
responses on geographical scope focussed on the merits and detriments of
including London within a national reformed licensing framework.
4.5 Our provisional view in the consultation paper was that the licensing framework
for taxi and private hire licensing should be the same across England and Wales.
Whilst we recognised important local differences, we suggested these should be
accommodated within a flexible national system. In the consultation paper, we
therefore proposed that London should be included, with appropriate
modifications, within the scope of reform. 6
Consultation
4.6 The majority agreed with this proposal, although many highlighted that future
legislation should take into account the unique position of the capital. Many
disagreed on account of that unique position.
4.7 Many respondents considered that London’s unique features meant that
regulation there should continue as it is. Taxi and private hire regulation in the
capital was seen as more modern and the enforcement more efficient. On this
basis, a number of London taxi drivers were concerned that standards would fall.
Some conceded that limited reform was needed, but maintained that the
regulatory structure should remain as at present and should be contained within a
separate Act of Parliament.
4.8 Others, like the private hire trade in London, felt that London regulation should be
used as a point of reference, but regarded the inclusion of London within the
scope of the reform as the best way to roll out its high standards across the
country.
4.9 Other stakeholders expressed the concern that the standards in force in London
would become the de facto national standard, and were concerned that this could
have a negative impact on standards in their licensing area.
4.10 In their joint response, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police were
supportive of some reform, acknowledging the need to update the legislation.
However, they made it clear that they would only support changes to the extent
that the proposed reforms demonstrate a clear benefit to London. Chief
Superintendent Sultan Taylor, Commander of the Safer Transport Command,
argued that greater control was needed in London to respond to the difficulties of
regulating such a significant fleet and the unique situations which may arise in
London. Roy Ellis, former head of the Public Carriage Office and the London Taxi
Company, took the same view.
Discussion
4.11 We remain of the view that reform should cover London. A reformed licensing
framework for taxi and private hire extending across all of England and Wales,
including London and Plymouth, would be far simpler and a more modern and
coherent approach. In addition, this would not be a significant step to take, since
the current legislation is often substantively very similar, if not the same, in all
6
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 2.
54
areas.
4.12 Our view is that the proposed regulatory framework should be flexible enough to
accommodate legitimate London differences, in the same way as it should be
capable of dealing with the variations between other urban areas and remote
rural communities. It would be for the Secretary of State to take a view as to the
appropriate level of standards.
4.13 Our reforms would maintain local control of taxi standards, and thus would not
threaten the distinctive appearance of London black cabs nor deprive Transport
for London of the ability to impose additional requirements on the taxi fleet on top
of national standards, such as the Knowledge of London.7
However, we believe
that there are areas where maintaining variations across the country has an
adverse impact on business and consumers. For example, we are of the view
that private hire services should not be obliged to meet an overly high standard,
but rather that the law should allow competition to promote quality. The London
private hire market is an excellent example of how competition can do this, with
offerings ranging from luxury vehicles with uniformed chauffeurs to basic, yet
importantly safe, minicabs.
4.14 As regards Plymouth, we were told that having separate legislation came with a
considerable cost. It has resulted in undesirable inconsistencies in private hire
regulation where Plymouth has been left behind while changes have been made
to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. For example,
unlike the position in the rest of the country, private hire vehicles in Plymouth are
not allowed to provide taxibus services.8
In addition, Plymouth’s licensing officers
do not have the power to issue immediate suspensions of taxi and private hire
licences in cases where there is a danger to public safety.9
4.15 We recommend moving to a single regime for taxi and private hire licensing. We
see no need to regard Plymouth as requiring specific provisions. London has
certain significant administrative differences which we intend to preserve under
the reformed system; for example, the role of Transport for London as the
competent licensing authority. The proposed regulatory structure will be
sufficiently flexible to allow for the considerable differences that exist between
London and the rest of England and Wales, and indeed, between the many and
varied areas across the countries. This recommendation is given effect in the
structure of our Bill.
7
The extensive topographical knowledge test London taxi drivers must take before being
granted a licence. The full version, required for those wishing to work in central London,
can take up to four years to complete and requires the applicant to memorise over 300
routes.
8
This is because the definition of licensed hire cars that can be permitted to offer taxibus
services in s 13(3) of the Transport Act 1985 does not cover vehicles licensed in Plymouth,
but only those licensed under the 1976 Act, the London private hire legislation, or indeed in
Scotland.
9
This is because s 52(1) of the Road Safety Act 2006 only amends the 1976 Act (London
legislation achieves a similar result of immediate suspension through ss 6 and 8 of the
Metropolitan Public Carriages Act 1869 and under s 17(2) of the Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998).
55
Recommendation 20
We recommend that our proposed reforms should extend to all
of England and Wales, including London and Plymouth.
VEHICLES COVERED BY TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE LICENSING
4.16 Under current law, taxi licensing applies to a different category of vehicles
compared to private hire licensing. Taxi licensing covers “every wheeled carriage,
whatever may be its form or construction” used in standing or plying for hire.10 By
contrast, private hire licensing only covers motorised vehicles (or, in London,
mechanically propelled vehicles) constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine
passengers, which are provided for hire with the services of a driver for the
purpose of carrying passengers.11 The archaic category of “stage coaches”12
adds a further layer of complexity. “Stage coaches” are defined as any vehicle
which plies for hire and charges passengers separate fares;13 they are exempted
from taxi licensing. In London, the courts have taken the view that a pedicab is a
“stage carriage”14 and is, therefore, excluded from taxi licensing or any other form
of regulation.15 The opposite view was taken outside London.16 As pedicabs are
not motorised, they also fall outside the scope of private hire licensing.
4.17 In our consultation paper, we provisionally proposed that the regulation of taxi
and private hire vehicles should not be restricted to any particular type of vehicle
but should rather turn on the service being provided to the public (hire of the
vehicle, with the services of a driver, to carry passengers).17 This is because the
main risks which justify licensing as a means of protecting the public do not
change depending on the construction of the vehicle involved. We therefore
suggested that the current limitations to motorised vehicles18 (in private hire
legislation) and the carving out of stage coaches and stage carriages19 (in taxi
legislation) should be abandoned.
10 Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 38. In London, the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act
1869, s 4 refers to “any carriage for the conveyance of passengers” which plies for hire.
Although no seating limit is specified, in practice, licensing authorities do not licence
motorised vehicles adapted to seat more than eight passengers as such vehicles fall within
the public service vehicle regime, discussed in more detail below.
11 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 46; Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 1(1)(a).
12 “Stage carriages” in London.
13 Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 4.
14 This term is found in the London legislation: Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 4.
15 Oddy v Bugbugs Ltd [2003] EWHN 2865 (Admin); [2003] All ER (D) 156.
16 R v Cambridge City Council ex parte Lane [1999] RTR 182.
17 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 3.
18 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 4.
19 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 6.
56
Consultation
4.18 Most consultees agreed with the proposal that taxi and private hire licensing
should not be restricted to any particular type of vehicle. Many respondents
shared our view that the definitions of taxis and private hire vehicles should be
broad enough to ensure that all those providing passenger transport in this way
meet certain safety standards, whether they use a car, motorcycle, pedicab or
horse-drawn carriage. For example, members of the Institute of Licensing argued
that, on grounds of public safety, all vehicles provided for hire with a driver should
be controlled. Claire Burridge, a licensed taxi driver, suggested that anyone who
carries any member of public in any mode of transport should be required to have
a criminal record check.
4.19 The legislative gap in respect of London pedicabs raised particular concerns.
Unite the Union was concerned that our proposal would legitimise pedicabs
plying for hire in London. The Association of Chief Police Officers agreed,
however, that extending control to vehicles such as pedicabs would be a positive
development, as their number was increasing and they raised road safety issues.
4.20 We received further evidence on pedicabs after the consultation period from
Westminster City Council, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police.20
They told us that pedicabs raised significant safety and traffic-related issues,
including contravention of restrictions on one-way streets, riding on the footway,
parking in bus lanes, impeding traffic in central London and generating anti-social
behaviour such as aggressive touting and playing loud music. Many pedicabs did
not have working brakes, lighting or seat belts. Further, the high turnover of
employees limited the long-term effects of enforcement. There were more than
650 incidents reported in 2013 and 20 collisions resulting in injury were recorded
over the three year period to March 2013. These issues give rise to substantial
enforcement costs. From 2010 to January 2014, Transport for London has
funded or part-funded over 160 operations against pedicabs, at the cost of almost
£65,000.
4.21 The Blackpool Landau Owners’ Association were keen to see horse-drawn
vehicles kept within the scope of regulation. A large majority of consultees were
also in agreement with the proposal to remove the archaic concept of stage
coaches from the statute book.
4.22 Wyre Council recognised that, in order to be future-proof, the definition of the
regulated activity had to be broad enough, which meant that legislation must not
be restricted to those types of vehicles currently on the roads.
4.23 Others were in favour of restricting licensing to vehicles whose drivers require a
licence issued by with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. Among those
consultees favouring this option, Unite argued that a broader approach would
legitimise unsafe, non-motorised vehicles. Others, such as Oxford City Council,
opposed a broader system of regulation on the grounds that the licensing regime
could not be the same for both motor vehicles and non-motorised vehicle.
20 A meeting took place on the issue of pedicabs on 6 December 2013 with Westminster City
Council, the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London.
57
Cornwall Council, suggested, however, that any vehicles which do not fall within
scope of national licensing should be subject to local discretion to prevent any
loopholes.
Discussion
4.24 We have come to the view that all services of hiring a vehicle with a driver share
a common rationale for regulation, which is to protect the travelling public. It
follows that passengers should be entitled to a comparable degree of safety
regardless of the number of wheels on the vehicle, or whether it is motorised or
not.
4.25 Giving regulation a broad scope does not amount to applying the same standards
to all vehicles; we believe that standards should be flexible enough to
accommodate different categories of vehicles. Nor does a broad scope of
regulation equate to legitimising any vehicle; the mere fact of its coming within
the regulatory framework would not alone make a vehicle eligible to be licensed,
as it would also have to meet the standards set for that form of vehicle. Under
rules having a broader scope than current legislation, regulators would be
empowered to take action to stop unsafe or otherwise non-compliant services.21
The result is that London pedicabs would fall within taxi and private hire licensing
for the first time. Outside London, pedicabs already fall within the scope of taxi
licensing, and in some areas this has resulted in their being banned. The
Secretary of State will have power to decide at a national level whether pedicabs
should be licensable as taxis or private hire vehicles and, if so, subject to what
conditions. Licensing authorities would retain the power to impose additional
standards governing their use as taxis and could, where appropriate, prevent
such vehicles from working as taxis in their area, or in particular zones within
their area.
Recommendation 21
Taxi and private hire licensing should cover vehicles regardless
of their form or construction, including non-motorised vehicles.
LIMITS TO THE SCOPE OF LICENSING
4.26 Our recommendations allow for future-proof and comprehensive regulation of forhire services on public safety grounds. However, by definition this approach can
sometimes be over-inclusive, and the licensing system needs to have clear
mechanisms to determine what types of vehicles or services may yet fall outside
its scope.
4.27 In this section we consider four possible limits on that scope. First, whether taxi
and private hire licensing should only apply to providers acting in the course of a
business. Second, whether licensing should cover activities where transport is
only an ancillary element of the overall service. Third, we consider the
appropriate boundary between taxi and private hire regulation and public service
vehicle licensing, given that there should be only minimal overlap between these
licensing systems, and never any inconsistency; the licensing of stretch
21 For example, horse-drawn carriages and other non-motorised vehicles (already subject to
taxi licensing) would become subject to private hire licensing for the first time.
58
limousines is a particularly difficult aspect of this relationship, and one we
address specifically. Finally, we look at services or vehicles that may fall within
the scope of taxi and private hire licensing yet, for reasons of policy, may be
exempted from the need to hold a licence by the Secretary of State.22
Services provided “in the course of a business of carrying passengers”
4.28 The element of “hire” is a common feature of both taxi and private hire legislation
and implies that the service involves commercial gain. Many important and
socially useful activities lie close to the boundary of licensing requirements.
During consultation stakeholders told us of the problems that could arise due to
the uncertain position of volunteers, car pooling arrangements and members’
clubs providing private hire services. Another set of issues arise where transport
is provided in a commercial context but as part of a wider package of services
(including the provision of hotel courtesy lifts, tour guide services, or by carers).
4.29 In our consultation paper we proposed that the regulated activity of providing taxi
and private hire services should not cover genuine volunteers. We also
suggested that licensing should not extend to activities where transport is
ancillary to a wider overall service.23 This latter issue is related to the question of
the “contract exemption”: until 2006, transport services provided under contracts
lasting seven or more days were exempt from the requirements of private hire
licensing.24 This precluded the legislation applying, for example, to most carers or
child minders, whose services are typically provided under arrangements lasting
seven days or more. When this exemption was removed,25 perceived loopholes
were closed; but it also meant that licensing requirements were confusingly
extended to a number of services bearing little resemblance to traditional private
hire services. These included care services, childminders and externally sourced
prison transport and ambulances.26 This attracted much criticism.27
4.30 In the consultation paper we asked an open question about whether there would
be merit in reintroducing the contract exemption.28 We also asked consultees
22 The counterpart of the power to exempt is the power to ban, and our framework will allow
the Secretary of State to ban certain types of taxi and private hire provision; with the same
power resting with licensing authorities in respect of their local taxi fleets.
23 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 8.
24 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 75(1)(b).
25 See the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 1(1)(a), as amended by the Road
Safety Act 2006, ss 54, 57 and sch 7. The same Act removed the provisions which in
London restricted the private hire licensing provisions to the services “made available to
the public”, with the same effect.
26 The Department’s best practice guidance states that the private hire licensing regime
should apply to a service the main part of which is the carriage of passengers for
commercial gain. Occupations which require drivers to be subject to additional vetting or
training (for example paramedics or teachers), or include the imposition of additional
obligations over and above driving (carers and child minders), are not intended to be
subject to the private hire vehicle licensing regime.
27 J Rogers and S Ridley, Review of the Impact of the Repeal of the Private Hire Vehicle
Contract Exemption (2009) p 4.
28 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 12.
59
whether and how the regulation of taxis and private hire should deal with car
pooling and members clubs.29
Consultation
4.31 Most consultees agreed that licensing should be restricted to those acting in the
course of business. However, there was much debate as to precisely which
services should be licensed; many consultees commented that exceptions should
be carefully and clearly defined.
Volunteers
4.32 Our consultation proposed that volunteer drivers should be excluded from the
scope of taxi and private hire licensing.30
4.33 Many volunteers in this area are involved in community transport.31 Such services
can include school buses and services for older people or the disabled, and
cannot be used to transport passengers with a view to a profit. Many of the
drivers are volunteers, though it is permissible for a driver with a taxi, private hire
or public service vehicle licence to be paid.32
4.34 During consultation many taxi drivers complained that services provided on a
voluntary basis were in effect competing for the same contracts (with schools for
example) but without the burden of licensing. They felt the taxi trade was losing
out to community transport services.33 Community transport legislation exempts
the use of vehicles operated in particular circumstances from the public service
vehicle licensing requirement, but not from the private hire or taxi regimes.
However, the legal requirement that community services must not be provided
with a view to profit or be linked to a profitable activity effectively takes them
outside the private hire and taxi regimes, as there is no “hiring” involved.34
4.35 Another category is the wide range of volunteer drivers who use their own cars to
transport people who have limited access to other forms of transport. The
services provided are wide ranging, but may include transport to and from
medical or educational facilities and religious or social events. Many such
services are organised by local authorities.
4.36 Some stakeholders thought that such volunteers should be subject to licensing,
especially if claiming expenses, or when crossing particular mileage thresholds.
One person in the taxi and private hire trade said that:
29 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 9.
30 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 8.
31 See Transport Act 1985, ss19 to 23A. The purpose of this regime is to exempt certain
bodies carrying passengers in a public service vehicle (including a vehicle with fewer than
nine passenger seats) from the public service vehicle licensing regime.
32 See the Section 19 Permit Regulations 2009, SI 2009/365 and The Community Bus
Regulations 2009, SI 2009/366.
33 See, for example, complaints against the Fenland Association for Community Transport on
Taxi Driver Online http://www.taxi-driver.co.uk/?p=2629 (last visited 19 May 2014).
34 Transport Act 1985, s 19(2).
60
Volunteer drivers should be enhanced CRB checked and have the
necessary insurance to protect the people they are transporting. Strict
regulation of total mileage [is] needed to prevent income generation
(which may exist even within the limited maximum mileage rate
allowed).
Car pools and members clubs
4.37 Overall, car pooling was felt to be a private and informal arrangement, not
designed to make a profit and ultimately beneficial to individuals and the
environment. Most consultees who replied individually to the main consultation
were not in favour of subjecting it to regulation. However, the response from
within the taxi and private hire trades, as evidenced by the Private Hire and Taxi
Monthly survey results, was markedly different and in favour of covering it.
4.38 Licensing officers felt that a lack of clarity in the current legislation led to the
impression that car pools should be licensed, although as a matter of policy it
would be preferable for them to be exempt. Stakeholders also noted that the use
of technology to facilitate ad hoc ride sharing among unlicensed drivers could
significantly change the landscape.35
4.39 Many stakeholders took a different approach to members’ clubs. They were often
seen as mechanisms designed to avoid the restraints of licensing, so that there
was greater support for subjecting them to licensing. The Warrington-based “Pink
Ladies” club, set up with a view to providing transport services only to women
club-members and with all female drivers, was frequently cited as an example of
the type of operation that should be licensed.36 However, a large number of
consultees were in favour of leaving this type of activity, along with car pooling,
outside the licensing regime, so long as clear definitions were formulated and the
activity did not produce any profit.
Transport provided as part of a wider service and the contract exemption
4.40 As regards the contract exemption, discussed above,37 our stakeholders almost
unanimously disagreed with reintroducing it. Many respondents spoke of
loopholes and the opportunity for abuse. One licensing authority noted that the
exemption would likely be subject to litigation regarding the precise content of the
exemption, leading to greater cost and less clarity. One consultee questioned
why the duration of the contract should matter.
4.41 Of those respondents who agreed with the suggestion that it could be useful,
Liverpool City Council said that too many “ancillary” activities have fallen within
the current definition of private hire activity following the repeal of the contract
exemption and that improvement should focus on enforcement.
35 See, for example, ride sharing models gaining popularity in the United States, including
Lyft, https://www.lyft.me/ or Sidecar https://www.side.cr/ (last visited 19 May 2014).
36 Pink Ladies was a Warrington-based company that initially operated under the private hire
vehicle licensing regime. When the licences expired they operated subject to the contract
exemption. When the contract exemption was repealed, the district council took successful
enforcement action against the company for breach of the private hire vehicle licensing
requirements.
37 See para 4.29 above.
61
4.42 Transport for London also recognised the problems that removing the contract
exemption had caused, but did not support its reintroduction. Another local
authority suggested that the contract exemption could be reinstated purely for
high-end, chauffeur work using luxury cars. Others suggested that it might be
possible to create a contract exemption for public sector work only, for example
school and hospital transport, on the basis that local authorities would carry out
their own checks as part of the tendering process.
4.43 A number of consultees thought that hotels and other businesses should not be
able to provide “free” unlicensed chauffeur services. However, we received a
number of submissions from hotel owners expressing strong support for the
proposed scope of licensing. We also received responses from chauffeur
companies noting the increased costs they faced since the removal of the
contract exemption. However, some of these consultees, such as Haywards
Airport Travel Services Limited, agreed that it would be appropriate to require
drivers to undergo a criminal record check and medical assessment.
4.44 The Institute of Licensing noted that licensing authorities did not have the
resources to check individual service providers. It suggested that these services
could be licensed, but that fees could be waived.
Discussion
Volunteers
4.45 Although the safety concerns arising from the carriage of passengers in a vehicle
with a driver are in principle the same regardless of whether the service is paid
for, it would be excessively regulatory, and impracticable, to cover all
circumstances where this occurs. For example, hitchhiking should continue to be
outside regulation, as should lifts arranged between private individuals.
4.46 Volunteers provide valuable services to the community and it is highly
undesirable that they should be deterred from such activities through the expense
of having a licence. Further, most of the complaints regarding volunteers are
about the veracity of the declared mileage and income. This is an enforcement
matter and guidance from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs appears detailed
and sufficiently flexible.38 Therefore, we do not think this is an area in which the
law needs to change, although the application of the rules, and identifying bogus
volunteers, may be an issue.
4.47 We have concluded that transport services provided in a commercial context
should be covered. Both taxi and private hire law refer to services “for hire” and
we do not propose to change this. We do not recommend re-introduction of the
contract exemption, for reasons that we return to below.
Car sharing
4.48 Arrangements such as car pooling or sharing, where only running costs are
recovered and there is no element of commercial advantage, should not in our
view be regulated. We do not recommend that car pools should be specifically
dealt with in taxi and private hire legislation. This is in line with the views of the
38 See http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/mileage/volunteer-drivers.htm (last visited 19 May 2014).
62
majority of consultees. If the amount the passengers are expected to pay
exceeds running costs, the journey will properly be classified as a “for hire”
journey. The question whether there has been commercial advantage is a
question of fact. We recommend that best practice guidance should be provided
by the Department for Transport to ensure consistency of approach.
Profit making arrangements
4.49 On the other hand, clubs and groups operated commercially should not in our
view be exempt from the licensing requirements simply on the basis that they
provide transport services to a subset of the general public. Stakeholders raised
concerns about the possibility of (for example) a nightclub or casino asking
guests to join a “club” in order to provide unlicensed homeward transport. A “club”
that arranges such transport on a commercial basis is appropriately regarded as
acting as a commercial intermediary or an operator and appropriately made
subject to the private hire regime. Its activities will, we consider, fall within the
scope of “dispatching” as defined in clause 8 of our draft Bill, and will require a
dispatcher’s licence.
Transport that is ancillary or incidental to a wider service
4.50 The position of persons providing transport as part of a broader package of
services is more complex. We have concluded that taxi and private hire licensing
should not extend to cover transporting passengers for hire as an ancillary or
incidental part of a wider service. This is in line with the approach taken by the
Department of Transport’s current Guidance.39 Where the main aspect of the
services provided to the customer does not relate to the transport, the customer’s
choice is made on the basis of trusting a particular service provider to deliver the
main service. Moreover, the service provider, unlike a taxi or private hire driver,
will typically only spend a minority of their time providing transport. The business
has every incentive to provide a good quality service (including in respect of the
ancillary transport part) in order to safeguard its goodwill. The imposition of taxi
and private hire regulation in such situations would, in our view, be
disproportionate (and probably ineffective, as currently a significant group of
persons are technically covered by licensing requirements but are simply not
enforced against). For example, we do not think that regulation should cover
courtesy lifts which are part of how garage or hotel services run their business;
nor indeed transport provided by carers or child minders.
The contract exemption
4.51 It is our view that the proposed reforms we have set out create a system that is
sufficiently flexible to obviate the need for reintroduction of the contract
exemption; our system will exclude services for which licensing is inappropriate
which were (perhaps inadvertently) brought within the scope of private hire
licensing by its removal, such as those of childminders and carers. The other
main group covered by the contract exemption was companies providing vehicles
and chauffeurs on a medium to long-term basis. It is our view that such a service
ought properly to fall within the definition of a private hire service. However, it
39 Department for Transport, Private Hire Vehicle Licensing, a note for guidance from the
Department for Transport (2011).
63
would remain open to the Secretary of State to exclude such a service,40 or to
apply conditions specifically tailored to its specific features.
4.52 Clause 1(3) of our draft Bill therefore excludes ancillary and incidental services
from the definition of use of a vehicle “as a hire vehicle” requirements. Whether
transport is ancillary or incidental will be a question of fact in each case. It is open
to the Secretary of State to provide guidance on the scope of the exclusion.
Recommendation 22
We recommend that taxi and private hire licensing requirements
should only cover services provided for commercial gain.
Recommendation 23
We recommend that taxi and private hire licensing should not
cover the carriage of a passenger as an ancillary or incidental
part of another service.
THE INTERFACE WITH PUBLIC SERVICE VEHICLES
4.53 Buses, coaches and minibuses are referred to in legislation as “public service
vehicles” and are subject to a separate licensing system.41 As with taxis and
private hire vehicles, public service vehicle regulation relates to the carriage of
persons for hire. However, public service vehicles are licensed by Traffic
Commissioners (rather than local licensing authorities) in accordance with rules
contained in separate legislation, which are heavily influenced by EU law
requirements and apply with no local variation, in contrast to the primarily local
nature of taxi and private hire regulation under current law.42
4.54 Significantly, whilst taxi and private hire drivers, vehicles and operators must be
licensed, public service vehicle licensing only imposes licensing requirements on
operators. Drivers and vehicles are not separately licensed, albeit that specific
requirements relating to them are imposed via the operator.43 This more lighter
touch regulation is appropriate and workable in the light of the nature of bus
services, where passengers are typically not alone with the driver, and also given
the much smaller number of bus operators, which are therefore easier to police.
Finally, public service licensing applies only to motorised vehicles.
4.55 We have no doubt that separate regimes for public service vehicles and for taxi
40 See paras 4.81 onwards below.
41 Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, s 1.
42 We provide an overview of the public service vehicle regime in our consultation paper from
para 3.58 onwards.
43 For examples, drivers of buses and coaches, referred to as “passenger carrier vehicles”,
need to have the appropriate category of DVLA licence for the weight of the vehicle (for
example a vehicle exceeding 7.5 tonnes requires a group D licence). Such drivers also
need to have a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence; and pass medical fitness
“group 2” criteria. See
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/275982/aag
v1.pdf (last visited 19 May 2014).
64
and private hire vehicles are appropriate; but there are issues as to how to draw
the borderline appropriately
4.56 Under current law, the dividing line between taxis and private hire vehicles and
public service vehicles depends both on how the service is provided and on the
type of vehicle used. In general, vehicles constructed or adapted to carry nine or
more passengers for hire or reward can only be licensed as public service
vehicles.44 Vehicles adapted to carry eight or fewer passengers typically fall to be
licensed as taxi or private hire vehicles unless passengers are charged separate
fares, in which case they are subject to public service vehicle licensing and are
sometimes referred to as “small public service vehicles”. Stretch limousines have
proved problematic in this regard, some being licensed as private hire vehicles,
some as public service vehicles and some slipping through the net.
4.57 Public service vehicles are already expressly excluded from private hire licensing
requirements.45 Taxi legislation also excludes them (albeit using the outdated
concept of “stage coaches”46 to which we have referred above). In the
consultation paper we suggested that public service vehicles should be expressly
excluded from the definition both of taxis and of private hire vehicles. We also
suggested that the number of passenger seats in the vehicle should continue to
be the main dividing criterion between the two regimes, such that taxi and private
hire regulation should continue to extend only to vehicles constructed or adapted
to carry fewer than nine passengers.47 We also suggested that the Secretary of
State should consider issuing statutory guidance to the Senior Traffic
Commissioner about the licensing of “stretch limousines” and other novelty
vehicles to assist consistency.48
Consultation
4.58 The majority of those who responded to these proposals agreed with our
suggestions. All stakeholders agreed that more clarity was needed regarding
which licensing regime should properly apply in any particular case. Regulators in
particular worried that the current system made it too easy for service providers
seeking to evade the requirements and controls associated with taxi and private
hire licensing to obtain public service vehicle licences instead.
4.59 The Traffic Commissioners highlighted that clarity was needed so that the public
understands the difference between the two licensing regimes. They commented
that some who think they will be refused a private hire licence by their local
44 There is no limit to the passenger carrying capacity of taxis under current law, but in
practice, no licensing authority issues taxi licences in respect of vehicles that also fall
within the public service vehicle regime. There is therefore no practical overlap in
regulation of larger motorised vehicles.
45 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 80(1); Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 1(1)(a).
46 See definitions in Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 38 (which refers to a “stage coach”, the
forerunner of the modern PSV); Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 4 (which refers to
a “stage carriage”, another earlier name for a PSV).
47 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 5.
48 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 7.
65
authority apply for a public service vehicle licence instead, subject to lighter
checks. The category of “small public service vehicle” was a particularly grey
area, as the same vehicle can potentially fall both into the categories of small
public service vehicle and of taxi or private hire vehicle.49
4.60 The vast majority of consultees believed that guidance would be useful. However,
many of them also felt that further changes were needed. Some suggested the
creation of a specific regime for dealing with limousines, including a specific
licensing structure. Several consultees thought that limousines should be
licensed as private hire vehicles regardless of size. Others felt that guidance,
statutory or otherwise, gave local authorities too much discretion and led to
inconsistency, or were concerned that guidance would fall short of the legislative
reform needed to ensure that limousines and novelty vehicles are properly
licensed.
4.61 The Traffic Commissioners recommended that licences for the use of vehicles
with eight or fewer passenger seats be granted exclusively by local authorities,
with the Traffic Commissioners responsible solely for vehicles with nine or more
passenger seats, in order to:
Provide clarity, improve safety, facilitate effective enforcement and
improve public confidence.
4.62 Some in the private hire trade also argued that more flexibility on maximum
seating capacity would enable them to expand their business without the need for
a separate public service vehicle licence. For example, one operator of taxis and
private hire vehicles suggested the seating capacity of private hire vehicles
should be increased to 14 passenger seats, but with a maximum gross vehicle
weight of 3.5 tonnes.50
4.63 Watford Borough Council said that:
We can see no real rationale why taxi and private hire vehicles should
be limited to eight or fewer passengers, and in some areas it may be
advantageous to license vehicles for perhaps up to sixteen
passengers. In our view, it is the way in which the vehicle is operated
rather than the size of the vehicle that is the issue.
Discussion
4.64 Public service vehicle regulation clearly occupies an important role in passenger
transport, and taxi and private hire services regulation needs to fit alongside it.
Nearly all stakeholders agreed that it should be clear under which regime a
service should properly fall. Below we consider the main public service vehicle
issues raised during consultation. We no longer pursue our provisional proposal
that the Secretary of State issue statutory guidance to the Senior Traffic
Commissioner on the licensing of limousines and other novelty vehicles. This is
49 See the discussion from para 4.67 below.
50 One respondent, Jeff Ellis of Appely Bridge and Shevington Carz, suggested that only
vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes should be able to be licensed as private hire. The
suggested 3.5 tonne cut-off coincides with the maximum authorised mass for a category B
DVLA licence for vehicles with up to eight passenger seats.
66
because our proposals for reform address the complexities in this area and
should provide sufficient clarity.
Passenger carrying capacity
4.65 We agree that the passenger carrying capacity of a vehicle should remain the
starting point, with the main boundary lying at whether the vehicle is adapted to
carrying more than eight passengers.51 To this end, clause 2(2) of our draft Bill
defines a regulated vehicle as one constructed or adapted to carry no more than
eight passengers. It will therefore remain the case that vehicles constructed or
adapted to carry nine or more passengers and used for hire or reward will
generally continue to fall within the public service vehicle regime administered by
the Traffic Commissioners. Discussions with stakeholders have led us to propose
the introduction of two significant exceptions to this general rule. First, a stretch
limousine or other “novelty vehicle” (to be further defined in Regulations) will fall
to be licensed as a private hire vehicle, if at all.52 Second, if the vehicle complies
with licensing criteria and can carry no more than sixteen passengers, applicants
may seek to have the vehicle licensed as an “opt in” private hire or taxi vehicle
(instead of obtaining a public service vehicle licence).53
4.66 The mandatory inclusion of stretch limousines and novelty vehicles within the
scope of taxi and private hire licensing will resolve problems that have arisen in
determining their licensing status.54 In addition, given the role that passenger
carrying capacity will play in determining whether other types of vehicle fall within
taxi and private hire licensing on the one hand or public service vehicle licensing
on the other, we recommend clarifying the concept in legislation. The draft Bill
refers to the number of people a vehicle can carry (either seated or standing),
including a front passenger seat, whether or not separated from the rest of the
vehicle by a partition.55 The aim of introducing a statutory definition is to provide
clarity as to how the concept of passenger carrying capacity is applied.
Recommendation 24
We recommend that, for the purposes of taxi, private hire and
public service vehicle legislation, all passenger seats and
spaces capable of carrying a standing passenger should be
included when assessing vehicle carrying capacity.
SMALL PUBLIC SERVICE VEHICLES
4.67 Where a vehicle is constructed or adapted to carry fewer than nine passengers,
we think the current exception to taxi and private hire licensing in respect of what
are known as “small public service vehicles” should be retained. This is a
51 The Clayton case shows that limos have bench seating and it is a matter of judgment how
many passengers one is “adapted” to carry.
52 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 2(3) and 2(9).
53 We discuss our suggestion for an opt-in to taxi and private hire licensing for larger vehicles
from para 4.75 below. See also draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 2(6), 2(7)
and 13.
54 See, for example, Clayton Car Sales Ltd [2012] UKUT 473 (AAC).
55 See draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 2(11).
67
category of public service licensing applying to vehicles with fewer than nine
passenger seats which charge separate fares.56 This form of licensing tends to
apply to services such as post buses and other services in rural areas. We
consider, however, that the borderline between public service vehicle licensing
and private hire vehicle licensing should be made clearer. We agree with
stakeholders that payment of separate fares is an insufficient reason for taking a
service out of taxi and private hire licensing; it allows such licensing to be avoided
too readily.
4.68 Reform of the public service vehicle legislation is outside the scope of this project
and we only recommend a limited number of amendments. We recommend,
however, that the Department for Transport give consideration to introducing a
further requirement (in addition to or in place of charging separate fares) that
would need to be satisfied before a vehicle could escape taxi or private hire
licensing by virtue of being licensed as a public service vehicle. We suggest that
the definition could be based on the current definition of a local bus service. Local
bus services lie at the core of what genuine small public service vehicles do, and
the fact that local bus routes must be registered with Traffic Commissioners
provides a more objective and easily enforceable parameter for enforcement.57
This could further reduce avoidance of the taxi and private hire licensing regimes
in respect of vehicles with fewer than nine passenger seats.58 Our
recommendation below, in respect of stretch limousines and novelty vehicles,
brings such vehicles within the private hire licensing regime. It applies both to
smaller and to larger vehicles adapted to carry up to 16 passengers. Current
“small public service vehicles” which match the specified stretch limousine or
novelty vehicle criteria would no-longer be subject to public service vehicle
licensing, and instead require to be licensed as private hire vehicles.
Recommendation 25
We recommend that consideration be given to revising the
criteria for licensing a vehicle as a “small public service
vehicle”, making them more clearly centred on local bus
services.
LARGER VEHICLES
4.69 We noted above that vehicles adapted to carry nine or more passengers
generally fall within the public service vehicle regime.59 Below, we describe two
respects in which we recommend a departure from this general rule. First, we
recommend a mandatory departure in respect of what our draft Bill calls “novelty
vehicles”. Secondly, we recommend an option into the more onerous taxi or
private hire regime in respect of larger vehicles.
56 Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, s 1(1)(b).
57 Local bus services are defined by the Transport Act 1985, s 2. For registration
requirements and exemptions, see Transport Act 1985, ss 6, 19 and 22.
58 This recommendation is without prejudice to community transport carried out by smaller
vehicles, as provided under Transport Act 1985, section 19 permits, which we recognise is
critical to many communities, including for example those in isolated rural areas.
59 Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, s 1(1)(a).
68
Stretch limousines and novelty vehicles
4.70 Stretch limousines and other “novelty” vehicles are often used to transport
potentially vulnerable passengers, for example on special occasions involving the
consumption of alcohol, or to take unaccompanied minors to school prom nights
or birthday parties. In addition, the fact that the vehicles are typically heavily
modified means that they are potentially more dangerous and need closer
continued inspection.60 These factors militate in favour of having careful
regulatory oversight both of vehicles and drivers; this is lacking in the public
service vehicle regime, where only the operator is licensed.
4.71 We regard private hire licensing as best suited to regulating novelty vehicles and
stretch limousines. Taxi and private hire licensing provides for independent
licensing of drivers and vehicles, in addition to operators. It also has a strong
local enforcement infrastructure compared to the Traffic Commissioners’ looser
regulatory oversight.
4.72 The above considerations apply regardless of the number of seats the vehicle
may have. We have therefore provided that the Secretary of State should have
the power to make regulations defining the stretch limousines and novelty
vehicles to which the draft Bill will apply.61 These regulations may cover vehicles
adapted to carry up to 16 passengers, and could usefully do so where the vehicle
is used:
(1) in connection with entertainment purposes or special events; or
(2) where the vehicle is modified.
4.73 We recommend that the regulations should include technical specifications in
accordance with guidance from the Driver and Vehicle Standard’s Agency,
including lists specifying the more common car models (currently, as imported
from the United States, including the popular “Lincolns”); factors such as sideways seating or entertainment features like mini-bars; as well as weight and
dimensions. This is more appropriate for secondary legislation, so that it may be
updated from time to time.
4.74 Such vehicles could also be covered by a separate category of national
standards prescribed by the Secretary of State, in accordance with the
procedures discussed in the following chapter. This would help overcome current
difficulties arising from the disparate approaches taken to regulating such
vehicles by different licensing authorities under current law. We heard for
example that some licensing authorities take a hostile approach to limousines
and set conditions which indirectly ban them, for example excluding vehicles with
tinted windows, sideways seating or left-hand drive. A more transparent and
consistent approach is clearly desirable.
60 High profile limousine accidents include the case of a group of teenage girls travelling in a
defective limousine which caught fire. The vehicle lacked a certificate of initial fitness, a
test certificate and appropriate insurance cover.
61 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 2(9).
69
A new “opt-in” allowing the use of larger vehicles as taxis and private hire
vehicles
4.75 During consultation, some stakeholders suggested that it would be beneficial to
give taxi and private hire services the ability to use larger vehicles to deliver their
services. Larger vehicles can be particularly advantageous to disabled users with
motorised wheelchairs or when travelling as part of larger groups.
4.76 Under current law, vehicles adapted to carry nine or more passengers for hire or
reward fall to be licensed as public service vehicles.62 Although we agree that
passenger carrying capacity should remain the crucial distinguishing feature, we
recommended that novelty vehicles (discussed above) should be an important
exception to this. In addition, we think that in certain circumstances, it should be
possible for applicants wishing to use larger vehicles as taxis or private hire
vehicles to do so.
4.77 This option would be subject to compliance with existing European law
requirements applicable to all vehicles having nine or more passenger seats.
These cover aspects such as driver working hours,63 vehicle fitness,64 and
operator qualifications.65 Furthermore, we recommend the following additional
safeguards:
(1) Traffic Commissioners should have a power of veto in respect of the
issue of opt-in vehicle licences, on the grounds that the service is more
suitable for public service vehicle licensing;66 and
(2) additional criteria which the Secretary of State may prescribe as part of
national standards for such opt-in larger vehicles; or, if the vehicle is
intended for taxi use, such additional local conditions that a licensing
authority may impose on such vehicles.
4.78 This possibility, provided for in clauses 2(6) and 2(7) of our draft Bill, might
enable some operators who currently have dual licensing (because they operate
both private hire vehicles and small coaches) to license all their vehicles under
one regime.
4.79 Ultimately, whether or not to allow larger vehicles within a taxi fleet would remain
a local decision. It would be open to a licensing authority to refuse to licence
vehicles having more than eight passenger seats as part of their local standards.
62 Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, s 1(1)(a).
63 Regulation 561/2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road
transport.
64 Directive 2007/46/EC (known as the Framework Directive), providing the European
legislation for the approval of vehicles which are mass produced, built in small numbers, or
built as individual vehicles. It requires them to meet certain safety, security and
environmental standards before they can be used on the road. The Directive is
implemented by the Road Vehicles (Approvals) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/717).
65 Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009, art 2.
66 As this would effectively be the determination of a licensing application by a different body,
we have proposed an amended appeal process. For further information, see Chapter 14. It
is fair that Traffic Commissioners should have the last word on the matter, as but for the
applicant’s choice, the vehicle would have fallen to be used under the public service
vehicle regime.
70
Recommendation 26
We recommend extending the reach of taxi and private hire
licensing to larger vehicles in two circumstances:
(a) on a mandatory basis, in respect of stretch limousines
and novelty vehicles; and
(b) on an optional basis, where providers want to use larger
vehicles in a taxi or private hire business.
4.80 These recommendations are given effect by clauses 2(6) and (7) in our draft Bill.
EXEMPTIONS FROM TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE LICENSING
4.81 In the consultation paper, we suggested that the power of the Secretary of
State to set national standards should be flexible enough to allow them to
grant exemptions from the taxi and private hire licensing regimes.67
The power to grant exemptions from licensing
4.82 The starting point of having a wide scope of licensing, resulting from the broad
description of the activity and vehicles covered by regulation, is necessary to
ensure that the regulatory scheme can achieve its purpose of protecting the
public. However, inevitably, it may be over-inclusive. Licensing should no longer
cover situations where transport is ancillary to the provision of another service,
but, inevitably, some services or types of vehicle may yet be covered which, on
proper consideration, might be better left outside the scope of regulation. For
example, it may be desirable to waive licensing requirements in respect of certain
categories of drivers or vehicles where there are alternative structures already in
place to ensure safety and quality controls are met.
Consultation
4.83 A significant majority of consultees agreed with our proposal. Transport for
London expressed concern, however, that exemptions should not be based on
professional accreditation, for example that of Blue Badge guides, as this is no
measure of vehicle or driver safety. During consultation we also heard different
views about the propriety of licensing less conventional forms of taxi and private
hire transport, such as motorcycles or party buses for example.
4.84 A handful of local authorities disagreed on the basis that exemptions, particularly
as regards taxi licensing, should be within the remit of the licensing authority. The
Local Government Association argued that councils should be able to consider
an applicant on an individual basis, according to what they feel is best for their
area.
4.85 Other respondents simply disagreed with exemptions. The Private Hire Reform
Campaign proposed a system whereby all providers of transport would be
licensed but ancillary services would be subject to less onerous requirements.
67 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 10.
71
Unite the Union shared the view that there should be no exemptions.
Discussion
4.86 Our provisional proposal was that the Secretary of State should have the express
power to exempt particular categories of vehicle.68 We think that the concerns
raised by some consultees that professional accreditation may not be a sufficient
guarantee in terms of public safety to exempt them from the licensing regime is a
legitimate and sensible one. However, we think that it is for the Secretary of State
to decide on the scope of the exemptions and we do not make any
recommendation as to the content of any exemption.
4.87 The draft Bill provides two exemptions from taxi and private hire licensing. First, a
vehicle is exempt from the prohibition on using a vehicle as a hire vehicle (and
thus exempt from both private hire and taxi licensing) if the Secretary of State
exercises the power under clause 4(4)..Secondly, a service is exempt from the
prohibition on accepting a there and then hiring if the Secretary of State exercises
the power under clause 6(2), but this is subject to the power of a licensing
authority to determine at local level, pursuant to clause 6(3), that this exemption
should not apply in their area. The effect of that would be that the vehicle would
not be exempt from the requirement to hold a taxi licence if it was used to accept
there and then hirings.
4.88 In respect of private hire services, the decision to exempt any category of service
would be only for the Secretary of State. For example, the Secretary of State
might determine that ambulances or prison transport should be exempt from
private hire licensing requirements, as such services are already subject to
alternative controls to ensure safety. It would then not be possible for a local
licensing authority to require such vehicles to be licensed.
4.89 The converse of exemptions is the ability to exclude certain vehicles and services
from taxi and private hire licensing. Views may differ markedly about the
suitability of vehicles such as motorcycles and pedicabs for example, in providing
for hire transport. Further to our reforms, the power to prohibit vehicles could be
exercised by the Secretary of State through standard setting. Vehicles prohibited
at a national level would not meet national standards, and could not be licensed
locally, whether as a taxi or private hire vehicle. Independently of the view taken
at a national level, local licensing authorities would have a further power to ban
vehicles locally from being used as taxis using their standard setting powers. We
discuss this in Chapters 5 and 8 below.
Recommendation 27
We recommend that the Secretary of State should have the
power to exempt certain categories of vehicle or services used
to carry passengers for hire from the requirement to hold a taxi
or private hire licence. Licensing authorities would, however,
retain the power to impose licensing requirements on vehicles
used as taxis within their local licensing area.
68 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 10.
72
4.90 This is achieved by clauses 4(4) and 6(2) in our draft Bill.
EXPRESS STATUTORY EXEMPTION FOR WEDDING AND FUNERAL CARS
4.91 Vehicles used wholly or mainly in connection with weddings or funerals are
currently exempt from private hire licensing.69
4.92 In our consultation paper we noted that this exemption could appear arbitrary, as
safety-related regulation would be no less justified in respect of these sectors
compared with any other ceremony or event. Concerns had also arisen regarding
wedding cars which were used for other events, such as school proms, stag
nights and parties.
4.93 Our provisional view was that these particular instances of vehicles used for hire
should be included within the broad scope of the regulatory regime; and that the
Secretary of State should exercise a discretion either to exempt such vehicles
from licensing or to impose such light touch requirements as might be suitable to
the circumstances of weddings and funerals.
Consultation
4.94 We received almost 1300 responses on this issue, far more than on any other
aspect of our consultation, in addition to a significant volume of correspondence
from Members of Parliament. Almost all respondents read our proposal as
meaning that wedding and funeral cars would immediately come within
regulation.
4.95 The vast majority of respondents disagreed with this. Many did so on the basis
that the licensing requirements would be disproportionate and would adversely
impact upon the businesses operating in this sector. For example, Sue and Mike
Evans of Premier Wedding Car Hire listed the series of new requirements they
would have to comply with, and concluded that it would make it impossible to run
their business.
4.96 The National Association of Wedding Car Professionals also stressed the highly
detrimental impact of such an inclusion on a variety of businesses:
[This] inclusion … is likely to eliminate some 1500 plus businesses
“overnight” from the UK cadre of small and medium sized enterprises
(SMEs), and from the wedding service provider industry in particular.
Furthermore, such action would impact severely on those specialist
industries, e.g. maintenance, engineering and restoration, supporting
the business use of historic and specialist cars.
4.97 The Cross Party Group for Funerals and Bereavement in the National Assembly
for Wales argued that there was no support for removing the exemption for
funeral services and added that the bereaved would ultimately bear the
consequences of the increased licensing cost.
4.98 Many respondents highlighted the nature of the work undertaken by these
vehicles, which is very different from that of taxis and private hire vehicles. The
69 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 75(1)(c) and (cc).
73
National Association of Funeral Directors argued that:
Funeral vehicles collect mourners from a pre-arranged address and
are driven in a dignified way… Funeral staff… act as a team, mainly
operating during daylight hours.
4.99 On the other hand, some stakeholders took the view that these services should
be included within the scope of regulation and subjected to licensing
requirements. This was primarily the case in relation to wedding cars. A small
majority of licensing authorities supported licensing wedding cars. There were
two main arguments: firstly, that wedding cars should be licensed even for
wedding work, and secondly, that regulation should be stricter as to when these
vehicles were exempt, so that unlicensed wedding cars should not be used for
school proms, hen parties and the like, as well as for journeys loosely connected
to a wedding, such as transport to an airport following the reception.
4.100 Consultees pointed out that those travelling to a wedding or funeral had just as
much right to a safe vehicle and driver as a passenger in a taxi or private hire
vehicle. Even some wedding and funeral car providers accepted that there were
arguments in favour of drivers having criminal records checks. Deputy Chief
Constable Suzette Davenport, Association of Chief Police Officers lead for roads
policing, cited the example of a stretch Ferrari being used for wedding purposes,
which she said was both dangerous and prohibited by the Driver and Vehicle
Standards Agency. She also noted that the exemption seemed arbitrary, but
suggested that the Secretary of State should have flexibility as to how to deal
with these vehicles.
Discussion
4.101 The issues in this area are finely balanced. In principle is it not clear why
passengers should be guaranteed any less safety when hiring a vehicle in
connection with a funeral or wedding then in other hire situations. However, we
acknowledge that this concern is counterbalanced by the way the funeral and
wedding hire sectors have developed: for example, the popularity of vintage
vehicles, often of high quality manufacture, that cannot easily be adapted to meet
taxi or private hire standards. Furthermore, the hirer is likely to have researched
their choice of provider more thoroughly than a consumer selecting a taxi or
private hire vehicle.
4.102 Consultation has persuaded us of the desirability of preserving the exemption at
the level of the primary legislation. We recognise that to require licensing would
have a substantial economic impact on funeral and wedding transport providers,
and indeed on the classic car world as a whole. We accept that these vehicles
are used in a very different way from standard private hire vehicles, justifying
different treatment. For these reasons we now recommend a continued
exemption for wedding and funeral transport services pursuant to our draft Bill on
the grounds that certainty for the small businesses affected outweighs the need
for the flexibility afforded by secondary legislation.70
70 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 1(4).
74
Recommendation 28
We recommend that wedding and funeral cars should continue
to be exempt from taxi and private hire licensing while the
vehicle is being used in connection with a wedding or a funeral.
4.103 This is achieved by clause 1(4) in our draft Bill.
AIRPORTS
4.104 Airports are private land and their owners have discretion as to who to admit to
their property. Some use byelaws to restrict access either to the airport as a
whole or to parts of it.71 Some contract with individual taxi or private hire
companies to provide services and restrict access for all other providers. Such
actions may limit consumer choice, particularly for vulnerable customers such as
tourists or disabled persons, and make it difficult for travellers to use their
provider of choice.
4.105 Our consultation asked whether there was a case for making special provision in
respect of taxi and private hire regulation at airports. In particular we asked
whether, where airports restrict access, there should be a requirement to assist
passengers in accessing a taxi rank or their provider of choice.72
Consultation
4.106 The majority of those who responded agreed with our proposal. Of those who
commented the overwhelming majority thought that taxis should have
guaranteed, equal access to airports. Many felt there should not be monopolies
at airports or stations, nor should taxi drivers have to pay to work in these areas.
4.107 The response from Cardiff City Council was as follows
Restrictions on taxi access to private land can lead to problems
outside the area of obstruction and confusion for the public. It would
be beneficial for the requirements to extend to airports, however this
could be difficult for some airports due to space and infrastructure. It
is understandable therefore that some airports have a contract with
one company in order to specify conditions of contract on levels of
service. This is more of a commercial matter rather than a licensing
one.
4.108 The Civil Aviation Authority and airports did not respond to this consultation. We
have therefore decided that it would be inappropriate to make recommendations
without specific input from these key stakeholders; however, evidence received
during consultation suggests the government should consider the specific
problems raised by stakeholders in connection with taxi and private hire provision
at airports.
71 Made under the Airports Act 1986, ss 63 and 64.
72 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 14.
75
LEISURE USE
4.109 In London, taxis and private hire vehicles can be used privately as well as to
provide transport services.73 This is not the case, however, elsewhere in England
and Wales, where the vehicle must always be driven by a licensed driver.74 This
excludes family and friends from using it, and often means drivers must have two
vehicles: one for work, another for private use by, for example, a spouse or
partner.75
4.110 In our consultation paper we proposed that leisure and non-trade use of licensed
taxis and private hire vehicles should be permitted. This applied both private use
by a licensed driver, as well as use by someone who does not hold a taxi or
private hire driver’s licence. We added, however, that there should be a
presumption that a vehicle was being used for trade purposes, which could be
rebutted with evidence.76
Consultation
4.111 Of those who commented on this provisional proposal, a large majority agreed.
Transport for London (which, as we noted, currently allows leisure use of both
taxis and private hire vehicles) saw it as “entirely reasonable that personal use is
permitted”, but pointed out the challenges this also gave rise to, noting that it
regularly came across unlicensed drivers using licensed private hire vehicles to
tout, but claiming that their actions were simply personal use. Bedford Borough
Council also agreed with this proposal, describing the current prohibition as
“perverse” and noting that requiring records to be kept of all journeys (both
immediate hirings and pre-booked) would provide a safeguard. Taxi driver
Anthony Osborn pointed to the economic benefit of not having to maintain two
vehicles. The London Private Hire Care Association also pointed to the economic
benefits, noting that the situation in London made part-time driving far more
feasible economically. A number of stakeholders, including the police, licensing
officers and trade associations, noted the importance of vehicles being fitted with
a means of displaying their availability.77
4.112 Some respondents felt that the ability to use a licensed vehicle privately should
only extend to licensed drivers. These included the National Taxi Association, the
Institute of Licensing and the Manchester Cab Committee. Others were
concerned about the enforcement difficulties to which our proposal might give
73 Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 28; Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s
12(1).
74 This stems from the maxim “once a taxi, always a taxi”, established in Hawkins v Edwards
[1901] 2 KB 169 and Yates v Gates [1970] 2 QB 27. For private hire vehicles, see Benson
v Boyce [1997] RTR 226. Consequently, driving of the vehicle by an unlicensed person is
an offence even if it is unrelated to any hiring.
75 It is also not entirely clear what the legal position is when a licensed driver uses their
vehicle privately but with passengers; for example, where he or she offers a lift to a family
member or friend. On the one hand, one might expect this to be entirely lawful as both
driver and vehicle are licensed. However, complications arise in relation to enforcement –
for example, it is feasible that a driver could use the “private use” excuse where they have
in illegally picked up a customer without a pre-booking.
76 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 20.
77 We discuss vehicles displaying their availability in Chapter 3, at para 3.90.
76
rise. This view was dominant amongst licensing officers, who were often
concerned about abuse of the system and enforcement difficulties. The Institute
of Licensing recognised these difficulties but thought that a power to stop
vehicles would assist. Babergh District Council was concerned that this would
encourage the use of unlicensed drivers, for example to cover sick leave. The
North Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association felt that private hire operators
would not be able to control this, as technology meant they often did not see the
vehicle nor know who was driving it.
Discussion
4.113 Since our consultation, and independently of it, the Department for Transport has
proposed an amendment to the Deregulation Bill to insert a provision allowing
leisure use of private hire vehicles by anyone with an ordinary driving licence.78
This measure, alongside amendments in respect of the duration of licences, and
sub-contracting for operators, was proposed, in isolation from anything that we
might recommend, as part of the government’s drive to reduce the overall burden
of regulation on business and individuals and cut “red tape”.79 We note that the
debate about the government’s proposals included concerns about safety and
effective enforcement.
4.114 We continue to recommend that leisure use of taxis as well as private hire
vehicles should be permitted. Our draft Bill achieves this by limiting the restriction
on use of a regulated vehicle to use as a hire vehicle.80 In doing so we recognise
that allowing non-trade use of vehicles by unlicensed drivers will complicate
enforcement to the extent that it provides an opportunity to pass off unlicensed
trade use as leisure use. This will mainly apply to touting or plying for hire; where
passengers are on board, it will generally be possible to discover whether they
are paying passengers or not. Paying passengers will have little incentive to
claim falsely that they are being carried socially. However, we note that these
evidentiary difficulties are the same as those currently complained of by the
police and licensing authorities, who often stop unlicensed vehicles, the drivers
and passengers of which claiming that the journey is purely social. Both our draft
Bill and the Deregulation Bill reinforce this with a presumption that someone
carrying passengers in a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle is doing so by way of
trade, placing the onus on the driver to rebut this presumption.81
4.115 Our proposal will not add to the difficulty of identifying an unlicensed driver. In
cases where an unlicensed driver is suspected of touting or plying for hire, we
would anticipate a false claim of leisure use to be capable of being defeated in
many cases. We also propose new enforcement powers for licensing officers to
78 Deregulation Bill 2013-14, clause 8. See http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-
14/deregulation.html (last visited 19 May 2014).
79 See Public Bill Committee, Tuesday 25 March 2014, col 559.
80 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 4.
81 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 5(5). We have considered the human
rights implications of reverse burdens and considered that the use can be justified as a
proportionate measure. What the defendant needs to show is that the vehicle was not
being used for hire. In most cases the passenger would be an acquaintance; and the
presumption would not apply at all if no passenger was in the vehicle.
77
stop licensed vehicles,82 which will assist in detecting unlicensed trade use, as
well as and tougher sanctions such as impounding where a vehicle is used in
connection with touting.
4.116 We have previously discussed the ability of the Secretary of State to introduce
vehicle signage requirements requiring a taxi or private hire vehicle to indicate its
availability or otherwise for hire.83 Indicating availability would be an almost
conclusive indicator of trade use, whilst failure to indicate availability would not
conclusively disprove unlicensed trade use.
4.117 Finally we note that if permitting leisure use proved to provided an excessive
loophole in respect of enforcing taxi and private hire licensing, it would be within
the power of the Secretary of State to introduce licence conditions limiting the use
of a vehicle to professional use or limiting the people allowed to drive licensed
vehicles, such as to partners for example.84
Recommendation 29
Non-professional use of licensed taxi and private hire vehicles,
including by non-professional drivers, should be permitted,
subject to a rebuttable presumption that such vehicles are being
used professionally when they are carrying passengers.
4.118 This is achieved by clause 5(5) in our draft Bill.
82 See discussion in Chapter 13 below, and draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause
50.
83 See Chapter 3, at para 3.90.
84 We recommend that the standard-setting powers of the Secretary of State and Welsh
Ministers should extend to standards related to safety, enforcement and accessibility. See
Chapter 4 for further discussion.
78
CHAPTER 5
COMMON NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR
VEHICLES AND DRIVERS
INTRODUCTION
5.1 In this chapter we discuss the reasons for introducing national standards for taxi
and private hire services and the areas that national standards should cover for
both taxi and private hire vehicles and drivers. In our consultation paper we
proposed that national standards should apply differently to taxi services
compared with private hire. For private hire services, we suggested that only a
uniform set of national standards should apply. For taxi services we suggested
instead that it should remain possible for local licensing authorities to impose
additional local standards.
5.2 We use the term “standards” to refer to the criteria for obtaining a taxi or private
hire licence and the conditions to which the licence is made subject. We have
concluded, for the reasons explained in this chapter, that such standards should
be set at national level in regulations made by the Secretary of State. In this
chapter we explain our reasons for that conclusion and explore the areas that
should be covered by such standards and the procedures for setting them.
5.3 Chapter 6 then discusses the related topic of criminal offences specific to the taxi
and private hire trades, an area in which we recommend overdue simplification
and modernisation.
5.4 Chapter 7 returns to the topic of national standards for the private hire trade, with
particular reference to operators, who are called “dispatchers” in the draft Bill. It
recommends that standards applying to the private hire trade should be set
entirely at national level. Chapter 8 sets out our recommendations relating to
additional local standards which we recommend should be possible in the taxi
trade, and chapter 9 our recommendations on the related topic of local fare
regulation.
5.5 Nothing in our recommendations departs from the current system of local
administration of licensing for both taxi and private hire services. Chapter 10
discusses the continued role of licensing authorities in administering the licensing
system. Although we recommend nationally set standards, the delivery of
licensing functions under our reforms remains firmly at a local level.1
THE RATIONALE FOR INTRODUCING COMMON NATIONAL STANDARDS
5.6 Our consultation paper suggested that taxi and private hire services should each
be subject to national safety standards.2 Currently all standard-setting for taxi and
private hire services is left to local licensing authorities. There are over 300
1
Our consultation was conducted on this important premise. See Reforming the law of taxi
and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation Paper No 203, para 15.4.
2
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 24.
79
different sets of standards across England and Wales.3
This means that
passengers in some areas may be put at unnecessary risk because standards
are too low, whilst licence-holders in other areas may be subjected to unduly
burdensome requirements. It can also have a restrictive effect on business; for
example, a provider seeking to expand into a neighbouring area will have to
apply for separate additional licences; and drivers, vehicles and private hire
operators may well have to meet different standards. Introducing certain common
standards also provides the foundations for better enforcement of the licensing
system across borders, also promoting passenger safety.
Consultation
5.7 There was widespread support for the introduction of national safety standards.
Those who agreed felt that consistent national standards would be beneficial to
all involved: the trades, licensing authorities, enforcement authorities, customers
and trade suppliers. The National Association of Taxi Users emphasised the
benefits to consumers:
Standards should be set nationally both to eliminate the problems
with boundaries and to introduce national standards which taxi users
can more easily understand. We live in a small country with an
increasing propensity to travel and people expect a universal level of
quality, safety and service.
5.8 Stakeholders noted the need for greater consistency in respect of important
matters like previous convictions, criminal records checks and training.
5.9 Bryan Roland of the National Private Hire Association was strongly in favour of a
more consistent approach to standards. He noted the striking inconsistencies
currently seen across the country, as well as the divergent approaches to
signage, vehicle colour, and vehicle specifications more generally. He provided
us with various examples of local authorities bringing in new policies at short
notice, with significant financial impact on the trade.
5.10 We note, however, that many stakeholders’ support was conditional upon what
such national standards might be, and whether they would be appropriate. The
small number of consultees who disagreed with the proposal felt that safety
standards were best determined at a local level.
Discussion
5.11 For the reasons we discuss in the next chapter, we accept that in respect of taxi
services local authorities should be able to make determinations regarding
standards, including safety standards, on the basis of local preferences.
However, we suggest there should be a common nationally set level below which
no provider of a “for hire” service should be allowed to go. The public have a right
to expect a certain level of safety no matter where they are.4

3
The National Private Hire Association survey collected data in respect of 336 licensing
areas as of May 2014. At the time our Consultation Paper had been written, in 2012, there
had been 342 licensing areas. The difference is accounted for by County Durham
abolishing its six licensing areas when it became a Unitary Authority.
4
We discuss the implications of this proposal as regards fees in Chapter 10.
80
Recommendation 30
We recommend the introduction of national standards for taxi
and private hire services.
SAFETY AND NATIONAL STANDARDS
5.12 In our consultation paper, we suggested that the standard-setting powers of
the Secretary of State should only cover standards necessary to promote safety.5
Safety standards are of high importance because consumers have no means of
verifying the safety of a vehicle or its driver. We also asked whether setting
common national safety standards for taxis and private hire vehicles might prove
problematic, as taxis and private hire vehicles have different ways of working.6

Consultation
5.13 A large majority of respondents in the taxi trade agreed that national standards
should relate only to safety. By contrast, regulators were nearly evenly split on
the issue, and a slight majority of disabled users disagreed with limiting national
standards to safety considerations.
5.14 The stakeholders who did not agree with limiting national standards to only safety
considerations pointed to the difficulty of separating safety considerations from
other issues which might influence licensing. MerseyTravel told us that:
In contemporary society we suggest that issues such as a
knowledge of the legal frameworks involved in taxi services, equality
and diversity, conflict management, tourism, topographical knowledge
and other areas all contribute to the safety of the trade and
satisfaction of the passengers.
5.15 Some respondents maintained the view that quality standards should also be
covered. Accessibility was also put forward as a crucial component of national
standards. The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee said that:
It is very important for disabled people to expect a similar
(good) standard of service across the country. Taxis are a crucial part
of the transport network for disabled people using public transport.
A consistent standard of provision is vital if they are to travel
freely throughout the country. Confidence that every local area will
have vehicles of a consistent good standard and an adequate
proportion of WAVs7
is essential.
5.16 London TravelWatch and the London Taxi Company also argued that
national standards should cover accessibility.
5.17 Some respondents to the online survey conducted by the Institute of
5
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 31.
6
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 29.
7
Wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
81
Licensing suggested that national standards should cover the appearance and
design of the vehicle.
5.18 A number of local authorities and Unite the Union agreed with the proposal that
safety standards should be set at national level, with local authorities imposing
additional standards for taxis locally. By contrast, other local authorities
disagreed on the basis that standard-setting should be left entirely to them. The
London Taxi Company also argued that the Mayor of London should retain
standard-setting powers over London taxis and private hire vehicles.
5.19 The second question, relating to the practical feasibility of setting common
national standards for both trades, attracted mixed responses, although most
stakeholders felt that it would be possible to set such common standards.
5.20 The United Cabbies Group was of the view that common standards would not
be possible, given that some areas require taxis to be purpose-built vehicles. The
Licensing Committee of Scarborough Borough Council noted that the bringing in
of new standards could cause expense for licence-holders. Whilst this is true,
licence-holders already face this risk in a system which gives local authorities
total discretion over standards. Any short-term expense would be offset by the
benefit of transparent national standards set with the benefit of consultation and,
for those in the private hire trade, immunity from having to comply with varying
local requirements.
Discussion
5.21 We remain of the view that the core safety requirements imposed upon a driver,
vehicle and operator should be the same across the country. Consumers have
the right to expect a minimum level of safety wherever they are and whichever
kind of vehicle they travel in.
5.22 Responses to our provisional proposals, however, highlighted the diversity of
matters that might appropriately be dealt with in national standards are, ranging
from the environmental impact of vehicles, to operator record-keeping
requirements. During consultation it became clear to us that the effectiveness of
the licensing framework for taxi and private hire services also requires national
standards in relation to accessibility, protection of the environment and matters
relevant to enforcement.
5.23 Consultation did not disclose any significant obstacles to the setting of common
national standards for both trades. We have concluded that taxis should be
subject to standards that are comparable but not necessarily identical to those
imposed on private hire vehicles. The observation made by the United Cabbies
Group presupposes that a particular type of vehicle would be required in order to
meet the standards. We propose, however, that the Secretary of State should
have the ability to set standards for different categories of vehicle, as further
discussed below. For example, we recognise that non-standard “novelty” vehicles
will require different safety standards, but do not see this as an obstacle to our
proposals. Wheelchair accessible vehicles deserve specific consideration and we
discuss these in Chapter 12 below.
82
Recommendation 31
National standards should promote enforcement, protection of
the environment and accessibility, in addition to safety.
Recommendation 32
National standards for taxi services should be comparable but
not necessarily identical to national standards for private hire
services.
DRIVER AND VEHICLE STANDARDS
Statute or regulations?
5.24 In consultation we asked whether national driver and vehicle safety standards
should be set out in primary legislation or in regulations made under delegated
legislative powers.8

5.25 Under current law, the broad, overarching requirement of driver suitability is
sometimes set out in primary legislation: for example, the requirement for an
applicant to be a “fit and proper person”, which applies to taxi and private hire
drivers outside London and to private hire drivers in London.9
It is also found in
secondary legislation, such as the requirement to be of “good character and fit to
act as a cab-driver” which applies to London taxi drivers.10 In all cases licensing
authorities currently have a broad discretion to spell out specific requirements for
drivers through local conditions. Criteria such as medical fitness11 and disclosure
and barring checks12 are set by most licensing authorities, though there is
considerable variation in what is required. Guidance issued by the Department for
Transport addresses these issues but is not binding.13
5.26 Local authorities also stipulate the standards to be met by vehicles.14 These may
include conditions as to the design or appearance of the vehicle, or a description
of any distinguishing marks required in order to identify the vehicle as a taxi.15 In
London, applicants for a taxi licence are required to comply with the conditions of
8
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, questions 45 and 47.
9
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss 51(1)(a) (private hire) and
59(1)(a) (taxis); Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 13(2).
10 London Cab Order 1934, para 25.
11 For example, many licensing authorities require drivers to satisfy more onerous Group 2
criteria which apply to professional public service vehicle drivers, see Road Traffic Act
1988, s 92(2) and (3).
12 Driving taxi and private hire vehicles is a listed occupation; see Rehabilitation of Offenders
Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. Moreover, licensing authorities are entitled to require
enhanced checks for taxi drivers in certain circumstances under the Police Act 1997
(Criminal Records) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No 233, as amended by SI 2013 No 2669).
13 Department for Transport Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing: Best Practice Guidance
(March 2010).
14 See Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s47(1).
15 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s47(2).
83
fitness issued by Transport for London.16 These are very prescriptive, requiring all
vehicles to be wheelchair accessible, to have a turning circle of 7.62 metres and
a partition separating the driver from the passengers, and to meet certain size
requirements.17 A small number of other local authorities in England and Wales
adopt these conditions as the prescribed standards for their local taxis.18
5.27 Before granting a private hire vehicle licence the local authority (outside London)
must be satisfied that the vehicle is suitable in size, type and design, and is safe,
comfortable and in a suitable mechanical condition, and is not of such a design
and appearance as would lead any person to believe that it was a taxi.19 A local
authority outside London may attach to a licence “such conditions as they may
consider reasonably necessary”.20 Although the power is general, specific
reference is made to the fact that the power to attach conditions includes
conditions “requiring or prohibiting the display of signs on or from the vehicle to
which the licence relates”.21 In London the licence may be granted “subject to
such conditions as may be prescribed and such other conditions as the licensing
authority may think fit.”22
Consultation
5.28 Most consultees took the view that safety standards should be set out in primary
legislation as this would help to emphasise the importance of the standards and
ensure that they were consistently applied. The Welsh Government also felt that
this would be beneficial to the public:
Safety standards for drivers, including the requirement that s/he
must be a “fit and proper” person should be set out in primary
legislation, ensuring common standards throughout the country. That
would guarantee reassurance for consumers.
5.29 South Bucks District Council thought it desirable to supplement the standards
through guidance.
5.30 A significant group of consultees, however, considered that although the main
16 Metropolitan Police Carriage Act 1869, s6, the London Cab Order 1934, para 7(3)(a) and
Transport for London, Construction and Licensing of Motor Taxis for Use in London,
Conditions of Fitness (1 January 2007)
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/businessandpartners/taxi-conditions-of-fitness.pdf
(last visited 30 April 2013).
17 These include a requirement for the overall length not to exceed five meters, and for
vehicles to have a flat floor in the passenger compartment for which there are minimum
heights.
18 However, we note that there has recently been a trend for authorities to move away from
this policy: for example, Chichester Council (see http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/topstories/latest/chichester-cabbies-unhappy-at-change-to-taxi-rules-1-
3624425?commentspage=0) and Swindon Borough Council (see
http://www.cabdirect.com/news/news.cfm/e7-taxi-go-ahead-swindon) (last visited 19 May
2014).
19 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 48(1)(ii).
20 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s48(2).
21 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 48(2).
22 Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s7(4). “Prescribed” means prescribed in
regulations, although no regulations have been made relevant to this provision.
84
safety standards for drivers should be set out in primary legislation, there should
be a mechanism for other standards to be added at a later stage by
statutory instrument to allow greater flexibility. For example, John Murphy, the
managing director of a chauffeur car firm, asked:
Is it possible that if the standards are set in statute they may
be restrictive and difficult to amend?
5.31 The London Taxi Company felt that the standards should be very widely
framed in primary legislation, with details added through secondary legislation.
This would allow the standard to have a degree of flexibility.
5.32 Delta Taxis took a similar view, highlighting the need for legislation to be capable
of dealing with future technological developments. Robin Riley of
Nottinghamshire County Council noted the practical difficulties of passing new
legislation every time standards need to be amended. These arguments were
echoed by a number of taxi and private hire drivers.
Discussion
5.33 We agree with consultees that it is essential both that safety standards are clear
and that their application cannot be avoided. We also agree that the standardsetting power should be flexible, so that standards can be amended or added to if
necessary. This is much more straightforward if the standards are contained
within secondary legislation. Consultees were rightly preoccupied with
consistency of standards, which is achieved whether the standards are set in
primary or in secondary legislation.
5.34 We have concluded that, rather than dividing the standards between primary and
secondary legislation, it is for the most part preferable to leave them to be set out
in a statutory instrument by the Secretary of State. This will mean that they are all
found in one document, and will avoid the risk of tying the Secretary of State’s
hands by making provision in the Bill that might be or become inappropriate. The
single exception to this is a requirement for disability awareness training, as a
core aspect of promoting equality considerations, and therefore a core feature of
ensuring taxi and private hire services are suitable. We recommend this
requirement should be reflected directly in primary legislation and discuss this
further in Chapter 12.
Recommendation 33
We recommend that driver and vehicle standards should be set
in secondary legislation by the Secretary of State.
5.35 This recommendation is given effect by clauses 14, 15, 19 and 20 of our draft Bill.
5.36 We turn to a discussion of some aspects of the content of proposed national
standards.
Fit and proper person requirements on drivers and criminal records checks
5.37 A consequence of our recommendation that disqualifying criteria for taxi and
85
private hire drivers should be set through national standards rather than in our
draft Bill23 is that the “fit and proper person” requirements will disappear from
primary legislation. Secondary legislation should instead specify the suitability
requirements which must be met before a driver’s licence can be granted. The
same approach should apply to vehicle licensing, as it would be necessary to set
standards which cater for a wide variety of vehicles and services.
5.38 A potentially very serious example of undesirable variation in driver standards
relates to the treatment of drivers’ criminal records. The Rehabilitation of
Offenders Act 1974 generally provides that spent convictions do not have to be
disclosed.24 However, applicants for taxi or private hire driver licences are
expressly excluded from these provisions, and may therefore still be asked to
disclose convictions, both spent and unspent.25 Authorities may (but are not
obliged to) require applicants to apply for Disclosure and Barring Service
(formerly known as Criminal Records Bureau) checks.26 These may disclose
other elements of an applicant’s history, such as police cautions.
5.39 Currently, the extent to which previous convictions disqualify a licence-holder is
left to individual licensing authorities to determine. A significant number of
licensing officers told us that they would like to see a more consistent, national
approach to convictions policy. Past criminality is plainly a matter that should be
taken into account in determining suitability to be a taxi or private hire driver, and
something that we expect will be covered by national standards if our
recommendations are followed. Their formulation will need to take into account
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which has recently given
rise to a successful challenge in the Court of Appeal to some aspects of the
current approach to revealing old and/or minor convictions and cautions.27
National standards on the appropriate approach to criminal records in taxi and
private hire licensing will assist with compliance with the complex and changing
law in this area and will be an important safety measure.
5.40 We also suggest that the Secretary of State make it a condition of a licence to
inform the licensing authority where a licensee is arrested for, charged with or
convicted of a disqualifying offence.
Driver safety
5.41 Both prior to and during consultation it was highlighted to us that taxi and
private hire drivers are themselves vulnerable. Few occupations require an
individual to be locked inside a confined space with a stranger. Whereas this is
23 With the option of supplementing these with local conditions for taxi drivers, discussed in
chapter 8).
24 With the exception of the most serious offences, convictions become spent after a period
of time which varies depending on the level of sentence imposed. A similar regime applies
to cautions.
25 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975, SI 1975 No 1023, Sch 2,
para 4.
26 Under Part 5 of the Police Act 1997. The vast majority of licensing authorities do require
checks before a licence is granted.
86
more commonly seen as a potential danger for passengers, drivers can also be
at risk. Furthermore, the taxi and private hire trades are cash businesses and as
such may be perceived as easy targets. We asked whether national conditions in
respect of driver safety might need to be different for taxis compared with private
hire services.28
Consultation
5.42 Stakeholders agreed that driver safety was a major concern, and it was widely
regarded as not appropriately addressed or given adequate consideration under
the current regulatory framework.
5.43 Many stakeholders told us of harassment, robberies and assaults.
Serious attacks are often reported in the press, and the murders of taxi and
private hire drivers in disputes stemming from their work are, sadly, not rare.29
5.44 Of those respondents who argued in favour of different approaches to taxis
and private hire vehicles, many such as Birmingham ComCab pointed to the
absence of any recording requirements in the taxi trade, providing less driver
safety in taxis.
5.45 Colin Biggar from Manchester pointed out that taxis are often purposebuilt vehicles with partitions, and thus different considerations would need to be
taken into account. Conversely, not many saloon cars used as taxis have
partitions, even though these are available. He regarded this as illustrating not
only the different ways of tackling driver safety, but also that mandating one
element could restrict choice of vehicle.
5.46 Consultees who thought the standards should be the same between taxi
and private hire drivers, often took this view because they feared that one group
would not be sufficiently protected. Philip Mepham of Hambleton and
Richmondshire District Councils pointed out that many individuals work as both
taxi and private hire drivers.
5.47 A number of stakeholders, particularly within the taxi trade, were strongly
in favour of a mandatory CCTV requirement. Many of these respondents thought
that drivers and owners of vehicles should have access to the images and sound
recordings obtained. Other consultees regarded recording devices as obtrusive
and were concerned that passengers would lack control over when the devices
were switched on and who would have access to the material.
5.48 On 31 October 2013 Richard Fuller MP introduced a Bill into the House of
27 R. (T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and others (Liberty and another
intervening) [2013] EWCA Civ 25, [2013] 1 WLR 2515. The decision is currently under
appeal to the Supreme Court.
28 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, question 30.
29 For examples of incidents see http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Robbers-slashedtaxidrivers- face-large/story-18181476-detail/story.html#ixzz2LEXeXo6F (last visited 19
May 2014) and http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/barrow/assaulted-taxi-driver-calls-forcctvcameras- in-cabs-1.1034404?referrerPath=home (last visited 19 May 2014).
87
Commons which would require taxis to install CCTV systems.30 Mr Fuller
provided us with a very thorough response dedicated to this issue, following the
murder of one of his constituents whilst working as a taxi driver. He presented
evidence that CCTV would reduce crime rates in taxis, against both drivers and
passengers.31
Discussion
5.49 Respondents did not agree on the appropriate approach. Most respondents from
the taxi trade considered that standards should be different as between taxi
drivers and private hire drivers, whereas a large majority of regulators and private
hire representatives took the opposite view. We regard this as a question which
should be considered in greater detail by a panel with technical expertise as part
of national standard-setting. We have come to the conclusion that the power to
set national standards which cover driver safety should be flexible enough to
allow the Secretary of State to impose different requirements in respect of taxis
and private hire vehicles respectively. As regards taxis, local authorities would
have the power to impose additional driver safety requirements.32
5.50 We make this recommendation on the grounds that the risks faced by drivers of
each can be quite different. A taxi driver responding to a hail or standing at a rank
is subject to compellability; reducing their control over where they go. As some of
our stakeholders noted, there is no record of the journey and limited possibilities
of identifying passengers known to be abusive or violent, as a private hire
operator might be able to do.
5.51 The evidence we collected during consultation suggests that safety concerns for
drivers are best dealt with by requiring safety equipment in vehicles, such as
CCTV and vehicle partitions. Furthermore, purpose-built vehicles with in-built
safety features are more common in the taxi industry, and regulation should be
capable of taking account of this.
5.52 CCTV raises difficult issues in relation to protection of personal data and
proportionality. The Information Commissioner has issued guidance on the use of
CCTV which highlights this.33 Consideration should be given to the extent to
which national standards should require, or conversely prohibit, the installation
and/or use of CCTV and how they should ensure that any use of it is in
accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Office of the Information
Commissioner.34 It would be for the Secretary of State to set out whether CCTV
was permissible, and under what conditions, in private hire vehicles. The
approach to CCTV in taxis would be more nuanced: whilst it would be open to the
Secretary of State to prohibit its use, if this were not done local authorities would
30 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131029/debtext/131029-
0001.htm (last visited 19 May 2014).
31 This kind of argument is supported by a recent study sponsored by the US National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health showing that while there was no clear
evidence that partitions reduced homicide rates, security cameras did reduce
homicide rates.
32 See Chapter 8 below.
33 Information Commissioner’s Office, CCTV Code of Practice (2008).
34 Information Commissioner’s Office, CCTV Code of Practice (2008).
88
retain discretion as to whether or not it should be permissible. We consider this to
be an area in which guidance would be extremely useful, in order to encourage a
consistent approach between local authorities.35
Standard-setting and the power to ban vehicles and services
5.53 Some “for hire” transport services or types of vehicle may not be regarded as
suitable to be licensed at all and should be prohibited. Under current law, the only
means of doing so is through the setting of local policies and conditions which
exclude certain vehicles, generally by virtue of particular design features or
specifications. For example, a number of authorities which do not wish to license
pedicabs do so via a requirement that the vehicle have four wheels or be
motorised. Under our recommended framework, licensing authorities would retain
the ability to exclude vehicles or services from gaining taxi licences. They would
not, however, have this ability in relation to private hire, for which standards
would be set nationally, with any such exclusion put in place by the Secretary of
State.
5.54 A number of consultees agreed that there should be an ability to exclude vehicles
or services at a national level. It is our view that the power of the Secretary of
State to set national standards is sufficient to allow particular vehicles or services
to be excluded from taxi and private hire licensing. Where this is the case, the
Secretary of State’s assessment, made following the rigorous consultation
process we set out above,36 should not be open to variation by local authorities.
Where the Secretary of State has taken the view that, for reasons of safety,
accessibility, enforcement or environmental protection, a particular vehicle or
service should be prohibited from the taxi and private hire sectors, local
authorities should not be able to take a more lenient view.
Vehicle age limits
5.55 Vehicle age limits were a matter on which significant concern was expressed
during consultation, and in respect of which views varied significantly. It is
significant that under our reforms, whereas it would still be possible for licensing
authorities to set local vehicle age limits on taxis, this would no longer be possible
in respect of private hire vehicles. Under our recommendations, vehicle age limits
associated with private hire vehicles would be determined by the Secretary of
State and applied at a national level.
5.56 We accept that vehicle age limits can impose a significant financial burden, and
can arbitrarily rule out cars that are perfectly safe and roadworthy. The purpose
of national standards relating to vehicles is to prevent unsafe vehicles from
continuing to operate as taxis or private hire vehicles. Whilst such standards
might include age limits in respect of both taxis and private hire vehicles, such
determinations should be made by the Secretary of State on the basis of advice
35 In 2013 Southampton County Council lost its appeal against a determination by the
Information Commissioner that its purported policy of requiring CCTV with audio recording
in all taxis was in breach of both the Data Protection Act 1998 and Article 8(2) of the
European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to respect for one’s
private life. The Council has now issued a revised policy requiring CCTV systems which
allow audio recording for a maximum of five minutes when triggered by a panic button.
36 See from para 5.63 below.
89
from the technical panel.
5.57 We also note that private hire encompasses a particularly wide variety of
services, ranging from limousines and standard saloon cars to classic cars. Age
limits might be appropriate in respect of some categories but not others. Different
standards might also apply to accessible vehicles. The power to set national
standards should afford sufficient flexibility to cater for such differences.
5.58 Transport for London made it clear that it wishes to continue its policy of applying
age limits to private hire vehicles for environmental reasons. It told us that the
current age limits are designed to improve air quality in London, as
newer vehicles produce lower volumes of harmful emissions. Under our
recommendations, Transport for London would not be able to vary a nationally
set age limit on private hire vehicles, or impose one if the Secretary of State
chose not to do so. During consultation, we received evidence suggesting that it
is in fact taxis that have the greater environmental impact in London.37
5.59 Transport for London also imposes age limits on taxis, but our recommendations
do not limit this power. If a national age limit were imposed on taxis, London
could have a lower age limit. It would not, however, be possible to license older
(and less environmentally friendly) vehicles. We discuss local taxi conditions in
Chapter 8 below.
Tailoring standards to vehicles and services
5.60 Given the varied nature of services within the taxi and private hire market it would
not be desirable to attempt to apply identical requirements across the board. The
overall aim that vehicles should be in a suitable mechanical condition may be
reflected in very different standards for different categories of vehicle.
5.61 We envisage that it should be possible for different sets of standards to apply to
different types of service or vehicle, both as regards taxi and private hire services
or for there to be a generally applicable standard with exceptions for particular
categories.
Taximeters in private hire vehicles
5.62 During consultation, it became clear that the use of taximeters in private hire
vehicles can be controversial. Outside London, private hire vehicles are not
required to have taximeters, but have the option of installing one.38 By contrast,
London legislation prohibits private hire vehicles from being equipped with a
taximeter,39 the rationale being that the ability to charge a metered price
undermines the advance pricing requirement. We do not recommend banning
taximeters from use in private hire vehicles, as we consider that metered pricing
may be useful for estimates; and we have heard evidence that consumers may
prefer the use of a taximeter where they are not in a position to judge whether the
37 Transport for London, Travel in London: Key Trends and Developments: Report Number 1
(2009), ch 6. Available online at: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/Travel-inLondon-report-1.pdf (last visited 19 May 2014).
38 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 71.
39 Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 11(1).
90
price quoted is fair.40
STATUTORY CONSULTATION ON NATIONAL STANDARDS
5.63 In our consultation paper we proposed that the Secretary of State should be
obliged to enter into consultation with interested parties prior to setting any
national standards.41 We also asked what the best way of doing this might be,
and in particular sought views on whether a technical advisory panel should be
formed.42
5.64 Consultation yielded overwhelming support for a statutory duty to consult, with
only a handful of disagreements. A majority were also in favour of a
technical advisory panel.
5.65 Many stakeholders suggested that consultation should involve a wide range of
interested parties. These included drivers, vehicle owners, operators, passenger
groups, disability groups, licensing officers and authorities, the Vehicle and
Operator Services Agency (now the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency),
manufacturers and the police. We were given positive examples of areas in which
local authorities have facilitated consultation and engagement along those lines.
For example, Burnley Licensed Private Hire Owners Association told us that they
had a Taxi Task Group consisting of taxi and private hire services trade
representatives, local authority officers, County Council officers, an MoT station
manager and councillors, who meet on a regular basis to improve the services
provided to the public.
5.66 We saw examples of this for ourselves during consultation, including the Sefton
Taxi Trade Forum and meetings in Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead involving a
broad cross-section of those involved in the trade.
5.67 Other respondents suggested a more restrictive approach involving only
the trades or licensing authorities. Some suggested that the Secretary of State
could seek assistance from specific groups such as the Institute of Licensing or
National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers (NALEO).
5.68 Our draft Bill requires the Secretary of State to appoint a panel of individuals or
groups representing the following categories of people:
(1) the taxi and private hire trades;
(2) licensing authorities;
(3) consumers;
(4) disabled consumers;
40 This would, of course, be a matter on which the Secretary of State should consult in setting
national standards for private hire vehicles. For further discussion of the consultation
obligation, see from para 5.63.
41 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 32.
42 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 33.
91
(5) the police; and
(6) highways authorities.43
5.69 The above is not an exhaustive list of who the Secretary of State may consult.
The input of Traffic Commissioners, the Mayor of London and other special
interest groups may be helpful on particular matters, and the Bill is drafted flexibly
enough to allow this.
5.70 The draft Bill does not contain specific requirements as to the size, structure or
financing of the panel, or the procedure to be used to select members. These
matters are best left to the discretion of the Secretary of State, who has
experience of using similar powers in numerous different areas.
5.71 The Secretary of State will be required to have regard to the recommendations of
the expert panel when setting the standards for taxi and private hire services. He
will be obliged to give the panel a statement in writing of the reasons for any
disagreement with the panel’s recommendations,44 but will be able to depart from
the recommendations of the panel if he sees fit.
5.72 The draft Bill requires the Secretary of State to convene an expert panel prior to
making the initial set of regulations containing the national standards and to
reconvene the panel before making any significant changes to the standards,
leaving him with the power to reconvene the panel at any point at which he
considers it necessary.
Recommendation 34
The standard setting power of the Secretary of State should be
subject to a statutory consultation requirement.
5.73 This is given effect by clause 73 of our draft Bill.
DUTY ON LICENSEES TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
5.74 The effective functioning of the licensing system depends upon licensees
providing accurate and relevant information, whether in a licence application or
pursuant to a request for information, for example in respect of records. The
current licensing framework creates a number of separate offences of providing
false or misleading information in particular circumstances.45 The draft Bill
imposes a duty on licensees to provide information and documents as may be
prescribed in national standards, or in respect of taxis, local conditions. Further, it
would be an offence to knowingly provide false or misleading information to
licensing authorities.46
43 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 73(7).
44 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 73(4)(d). For a similar approach, see
Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, s 1R.
45 See Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss 57(3) and 73(2); and the
London Hackney Carriage Act 1843, s 14, and the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act
1998, s 28.
46 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 47.
92
5.75 We also recommend that the Secretary of State make it a condition of licence to
inform the licensing authority where a licensee is arrested or convicted of
offences of a certain seriousness or nature.
Record-keeping by licensees
5.76 During consultation we were told that the difficulty in connecting vehicles with
drivers and operators in respect of investigating particular incidents was a
significant problem.
5.77 Police officers told us that linking the different licences (for example, in order to
trace the driver where the victim can only remember details of the vehicle) can be
particularly difficult and is a major drain on resources, leading to investigations
being prolonged and often left unresolved. This can apply both in respect of taxi
and private hire drivers.
5.78 A problem of particular concern related to private hire drivers working without an
operator. Such drivers have the appearance of legitimacy, and their vehicle also
may be licensed, yet they are working unlawfully and can be very dangerous. The
Metropolitan Police told us anecdotally that a large proportion of complaints
relating to sexual assaults by drivers of hired vehicles were made against
licensed private hire drivers.
5.79 We suggest that the Secretary of State should exercise the standard-setting
powers to require taxi and private hire drivers to record or provide information
regarding the licensed vehicles they used over a period as may be prescribed.
Private hire drivers should be required to record or provide information regarding
the dispatchers they undertook journeys for, reducing the scope for their working
(unlawfully) without dispatchers for example.47 We think that a similar
requirement should be imposed on vehicle licence holders to record or provide
information in respect of the drivers and dispatchers using their vehicle over a
prescribed period.48 Dispatchers are directly subject to broad record-keeping
obligations under the draft Bill, and failure to comply would be an offence.49
WHO SHOULD BE ABLE TO APPLY FOR A VEHICLE LICENCE?
5.80 In England and Wales, including London, only the owner or part owner of a
vehicle is entitled to apply for a vehicle licence.50 Our draft Bill removes this
requirement. Any person who is able to comply with the obligations associated
with holding a vehicle licence (such as presenting the vehicle for inspection) can
apply. This includes, for example, persons leasing a vehicle.
47 The Transport Committee of the London Assembly made a similar recommendation in
order to reduce touting in its report, Tackling taxi touting in London (March 2008) p 5, see
recommendations 2 and 3 of http://legacy.london.gov.uk/assembly/reports/transport/taxitouting.rtf
48 We also discuss the relevance of licensee record-keeping obligations in the context of our
move away from the so-called “triple licensing” requirement, in Chapter 7 below.
49 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 33 – 36.
50 In respect of taxis see Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 40, Metropolitan Public Carriage
Act 1869, s 6. In respect of private hire vehicles see the Local Government (Miscellaneous
Provisions) Act 1976, s 48(1), and the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act s 7(1).
93
5.81 If any requirement of an appropriate link between the vehicle licence holder and
the vehicle owner is necessary, we anticipate that it can be provided as part of
national standards. The current law already requires vehicle licence applicants to
provide information about the vehicle owner, part owners and persons involved in
hiring or letting the vehicle. We think this is sensible and envisage that it would
continue to be required as part of national standards.
Recommendation 35
We recommend that the ability to apply for a vehicle licence
should no longer be restricted to vehicle owners.
5.82 This recommendation is given effect by clause 13 of our draft Bill.
SUITABILITY TO HOLD A VEHICLE LICENCE
5.83 In England and Wales, outside London, taxi and private hire vehicle owners are
not subject to fit and proper person requirements; conditions of licence relate to
the vehicle itself.51 Local authorities can issue bye-laws “regulating the conduct of
proprietors”52 of licensed vehicles but we are not aware of any who are using this
power to impose good character requirements. The same is true for private hire
vehicle owners in London.53
5.84 In London, Transport for London can refuse to grant a taxi vehicle licence if it is
not satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence,54
but no similar requirement applies to applicants for London private hire vehicle
licences. Currently, only London taxi vehicle owners can be subject to personal
suitability requirements.55
5.85 In our consultation paper, we suggested that the imposition of suitability
requirements on taxi and private hire vehicle owners was too remote from
passenger safety considerations. We proposed the removal of the fit and proper
person requirement which currently only applies to London taxi vehicle owners.56
Consultation
5.86 A significant majority of respondents were unhappy with our proposal to remove
suitability requirements applicable to the vehicle’s owner. They felt that “fit and
proper” tests for vehicle owners would be a very helpful way of controlling
criminality within the taxi and private hire trades. They raised concerns that
vehicle owners currently contribute to organised crime; for example, the Welsh
local authorities told us that:
Examples exist of taxi proprietors convicted of operating
51 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss 47 and 48.
52 See Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 68.
53 Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 13(2)(a).
54 London Cab Order 1934, para 7.
55 London Cab Order 1934, para 7.
56 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 46.
94
cannabis factories in Wales who because of poor legislation are not
required to be vetted. These “licensed” vehicles are therefore an ideal
outlet to deliver and transport goods and for the laundering of money.
5.87 The United Cabbies Group saw owner licensing as a very important element of
the good reputation of the London taxi trade:
As people inherently trust the London Taxi as a sign of safety,
then the availability of these vehicles must be strictly controlled as it is
now in London. By requiring fleet owners to also meet the
requirement of a fit and proper person should ensure that the rental of
these vehicles is controlled by way of ensuring only people of good
character control these vehicles.
5.88 Those who agreed with the proposal felt that the current situation, in which
owners are in general not subject to “fit and proper person” tests57, worked
satisfactorily.
5.89 Some consultees were in favour of limited measures, but not of introducing a
“fit and proper” test for owners as a general requirement. David Wilson of
a2z Licensing felt that any serious problems concerning vehicle owners were
best dealt with by the police, although scope could be left open for legislative
change in the future. We find this a sensible suggestion, given that the problems
stakeholders cite to justify a “fit and proper” requirement for vehicle owners are
often linked to criminal behaviour. Bedford Borough Council similarly suggested
that in principle, owners should not need to satisfy “fit and proper” criteria, but
that in exceptional circumstances it might be necessary for a licensing authority
to take an owner’s conduct into account; for example, any previous convictions.
Discussion
5.90 We continue to recommend that applicants for vehicle licences should not be
subject to a fit and proper person test. Vehicle licence holders have no contact
with the travelling public at all, unless they are drivers, in which case fit and
proper tests would apply on that basis.58
5.91 Less than ten percent of licensed taxi and private hire vehicles across England
and Wales are currently subject to fit and proper requirements for their owners,59
and we think it an unnecessary burden to extend such a requirement to the
remaining 90% of vehicle licensees. National standards can ensure that the
vehicle is safe and appropriate. Passengers will not have meaningful contact with
the vehicle owner, unless of course the owner is also the driver in which case he
or she will be required to meet driver standards. Any problems associated with
criminality of vehicle owners are best dealt with through the criminal law, and
through the enforcement measures discussed in Chapter 13 below.
57 Except as regards taxis in London.
58 We note that only taxi and private hire drivers, (not operators nor vehicle owners) can be
subject to enhanced criminal records checks under the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records)
Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No 233, amended by the SI 2013 No 2669).
59 The latest statistics issued by the National Private Hire Association in April 2014 indicate
there is a total fleet of 237,679 licensed taxi and private hire vehicles, of which 22,732 are
London taxis. The Department for Transport’s 2013 statistics indicated a total of 231,000
licensed taxi and private hire vehicles, of which 22,000 were London taxis.
95
5.92 This recommendation is without prejudice to vehicle licence holders’
responsibilities in respect of persons driving their vehicles and requiring the
vehicle to be available for inspection.60 These obligations provide a strong
incentive on vehicle owners to keep adequate records of the drivers using their
vehicles.61
Recommendation 36
Applicants for vehicle licences should not be subject to a fit and
proper person test.
CRIMINAL OFFENCES AND LICENCE CONDITIONS
5.93 Chapter 6 below discusses the criminal offences that exist under the current law
in relation to the taxi and private hire trades. We make a number of
recommendations, including that certain of the more minor existing offences
should be either repealed completely, or replaced by national standards. Under
our recommendations the Secretary of State would have the power to designate
the breach of certain licence conditions as criminal offences.
INDIVIDUAL CONDITIONS
5.94 Taxi and private hire legislation generally allows the licensing authority to attach
to the grant of a taxi or private hire licence “such conditions as they may consider
reasonably necessary”. This applies in respect of private hire vehicles, operators,
and drivers.62 The ability to attach conditions is similarly broad in respect of taxi
vehicles outside London.63 The powers to impose conditions on London taxis,
and taxi drivers both and inside and outside London are instead framed in terms
of powers to issue byelaws;64 or in London, to issue London Cab Orders.65 A
power to impose individual conditions in taxi drivers’ licences may also be
60 Under existing law, proprietors of private hire vehicles must not employ an unlicensed
driver, Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s46(1)(c). Proprietors of
hackney carriages are also responsible for drivers in their employ, see Town Police
Clauses Act 1847, ss 47 to 49. Further to our reforms, the same obligations would arise:
draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 5(3).
61 During consultation it was impressed upon us that vehicle information will often be the only
details a passenger or enforcement officer may remember from an incident. Vehicle
owners’ records are therefore important in ensuring accountability when things go wrong.
Taxis can be operated without any record-keeping at all. Having effective means for joining
up vehicle information with relevant driver details is essential.
62 In England and Wales, see for private hire drivers, s 51(2) of the Local Government
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976; for private hire vehicles, s 48(2) of the Local
Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976; for operators, s 55(3) of the Local
Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. In London, see for private hire drivers,
ss 13(2)(3) of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998; for private hire vehicles, s 7(4)
of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998; and for operators, s 3(4) of the Private Hire
Vehicles (London) Act 1998.
63 See s 47(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
64 Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 68.
65 Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 9.
96
implied.66
5.95 Under the current law licensing authorities can set conditions that apply to
particular licensees, rather than being of general application. The content of
individual conditions varies considerably.
5.96 Examples of currently imposed individual conditions were given to us by
Transport for London and include:
(1) restrictions on an area a taxi driver is licensed for;
(2) a restriction to working 20 hours per week (in accordance with Home
Office restrictions);
(3) the holder being subject to an annual medical check; and
(4) a restriction imposed on a private hire operator prohibiting public access
to their premises.
Consultation
5.97 In our consultation paper we asked whether local authorities should still have the
power to impose individual licence conditions on taxi and private hire drivers.67
5.98 Reflecting their approach of favouring local discretion, the vast majority of
consultees took the view that individual conditions should be retained.
Consultees who agreed regarded the power of local authorities to
impose individual conditions as an important tool which enabled the licensing
system to respond to particular circumstances to an extent that might not be
possible under a system of uniform licence conditions.
5.99 Transport for London expressed a similar view:
While general conditions are preferable as they ensure
equality, provide consistency and transparency in the licensing
system and aid compliance, in some cases it is necessary to add
specific conditions on individual licences. This could be where
individuals fail to meet generic standards but the licensing authority
has exercised discretion to license or where the licensing authority
wishes to impose standards over and above the generic standards.
5.100 Examples of conditions considered useful by consultees included (from
Transport for London) limits on working hours in accordance with Home Office
restrictions and “pending planning permission” requirements on operators, and
(from an Institute of Licensing member) a restriction on the routes to be taken by
66 Wathan v Neath and Port Talbot CBC [2002] EWHC 1634 (Admin) found that section 57 of
the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 did not grant a power to
impose conditions on taxi driver licences. However, s 46 of the Town Police Clauses Act
1847 may be interpreted as implying such a power, and the Department for Transport for
example takes this view. See Department for Transport, Guidance note and model
byelaws (2005) paras 3 to 9. The matter has not been resolved by the courts.
67 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 36.
97
the driver of a wheelchair accessible private hire vehicle who had not passed
her topographical knowledge test.
5.101 Some consultees suggested that individual conditions would be a good way
of monitoring individuals about whom regulators had concerns. For example, the
National Association of Licensing Enforcement Officers suggested that:
A residual power to impose disciplinary conditions on
licensees having previously failed to comply with the Act is probably a
good idea.
5.102 Consultees who disagreed with retaining individual conditions tended to feel
that they led to an inconsistent system, with too much discretion for
individual licensing authorities. The Licensed Private Hire Car Association was
particularly strongly opposed to the idea.
Discussion
5.103 We are concerned that the use of individual conditions adds an extra layer of
regulation and detracts from the uniformity and transparency of the licensing
system. In principle, an individual who satisfies national standards should be
permitted to work in the trade without being hampered by restrictions imposed in
the form of additional individual licence conditions. A power to impose individual
conditions on drivers in the private hire sector would cut across our proposed
system of purely national standards.
5.104 It has struck us that the examples of individual conditions given to us often
related to matters already covered by existing regulation or which are more
appropriate as policies of general application. Under our reforms it will be
possible, for example, to limit the zones within a licensing area for which a driver
is licensed by virtue of our proposed more flexible system of zoning.68
5.105 We also question the appropriateness of using national standards to enforce
other areas of the law unrelated to the quality or safety of a taxi or private hire
service, such as immigration or planning control requirements. Stakeholders told
us of individual conditions being used to “keep an eye” on licence holders where
there were concerns about whether they ought properly to hold a licence. This
does not seem to us to be an appropriate use of licensing conditions.
5.106 We see no difficulty in national or local standards of general application
containing rules that apply only apply to particular categories of licence holders,
for example disabled drivers who use specifically adapted vehicles or those with
particular medical conditions. Standards having general application to such
individuals, formulated following consultation, are more likely to be set
appropriately and to produce equality of treatment as between individuals in
those categories than will be produced by a variety of individually imposed
conditions.
5.107 We appreciate that individual conditions currently offer a measure of flexibility to
depart in individual cases from a licensing authority’s standard conditions in a
68 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 7 and 21.
98
way which may make the difference between an applicant being granted a
licence and being refused. For example, one local authority reported using an
individual licence condition to ensure that an applicant only drove an automatic
vehicle. This was necessary due to a medical condition and without a specifically
tailored condition the applicant would not have been able to work safely as a
driver.
5.108 To the extent that such flexibility is desirable, we consider that, rather than
affording licensing authorities a general power to set individual conditions, the
national licence conditions themselves might, in a small number of appropriately
circumscribed cases, require a licensee to comply with locally imposed conditions
relating, for example, to their medical condition. National standards could be
framed in this way if it were not practicable to make sufficiently comprehensive
provision for all cases in the national standards, which we would regard as the
preferable course.
5.109 One of the current uses of individual conditions in private hire licensing is their
imposition on operators. Some licensing authorities impose conditions prescribing
how operators may accept bookings, as in London’s satellite offices. This could
continue to be controlled under our reforms by virtue of new powers we grant to
licensing authorities in the context of our amended touting offence.69 The Bill
provides that local authorities may designate places in which it is not an offence
to solicit a person to hire a taxi or private hire vehicle, provided that conditions
specified in the designation are complied with.
Recommendation 37
We recommend that licensing authorities should not have a
general power to impose individual conditions on the holders of
taxi or private hire licences.

69 See Chapter 13 below.
99
CHAPTER 6
CRIMINAL OFFENCES SPECIFIC TO THE TAXI
AND PRIVATE HIRE TRADES
INTRODUCTION
6.1 The current law contains a broad and often confusing array of offences that are
capable of being committed by those working in the taxi and private hire trades.
We propose reform in five areas:
(1) behaviour which it is appropriate to sanction with a criminal penalty or an
obligation to provide compensation, but where modern offences and civil
claims have overtaken those provided in taxi and private hire legislation;
(2) criminal activity which is not directly linked to taxi and private hire
licensing, but which ought to give rise to licensing repercussions;
(3) behaviour which is currently criminalised but which could more
appropriately be dealt with through the mechanism of national standards;
(4) behaviour which amounts to a breach of national standards but which is
so serious that it ought also to give rise to criminal sanctions; and
6.2 There are also a number of offences the substance of which needs to be
retained, but which can be simplified; simplification will in any event result from
our proposed replacement of four main pieces of governing legislation by one.
6.3 The next five sections explain our recommendations in each of those areas. We
do not discuss touting in this section, as we consider it in Chapter 13 below.
OUTDATED OFFENCES AND COMPENSATION PROVISIONS IN TAXI AND
PRIVATE HIRE LEGISLATION
6.4 The current law contains many examples of outdated offences which have lost
their relevance. For example, section 61 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847
provides that—
If the driver or any other person having or pretending to have the care
of any such hackney carriage be intoxicated while driving, or if any
such driver or other person by wanton and furious driving, or by any
other wilful misconduct, injure or endanger any person in his life,
limbs, or property, he shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding level 1
on the standard scale.
100
6.5 Not only does this overlap considerably with the existing criminal offences of
drinking and driving and of dangerous, careless and inconsiderate driving;1
in
addition, the maximum penalty is far lower, suggesting that the offences had
fallen into disuse before the standard scale of fines was introduced.2
6.6 Other outdated provisions include provision for compensation to be recovered
from the proprietor of a vehicle for loss or damage caused by a driver,3
and for a
fine at level 1 on the standard scale for the offence of leaving “a carriage …
unattended in a place of public resort.”4
This provision also provides a power to
take the horses harnessed to the carriage to a livery stable. The outdated
provisions often duplicate existing road traffic offences or general principles of
modern civil law, such as the law of negligence.
6.7 We have concluded that, where trade-specific offences and related provisions
duplicate other existing offences or breaches of civil law, the duplicative
provisions should be repealed in favour of reliance on the general criminal and
civil law. Provisions creating offences in the new legislation should be confined to
acts or omissions specific to the use of vehicles for hire; for example, failure to
have the relevant licence.
6.8 This is in line with the approach we took in our consultation paper “Criminal Law
in Regulatory Contexts”, which has led to the government gateway for new
offences. The gateway is aimed at preventing a proliferation of new criminal
offences, and assesses proposed new offences against a number of criteria such
as whether the behaviour is sufficiently serious to merit the stigma associated
with a criminal conviction, and what effective alternatives are available.5
POWERS TO REVOKE LICENCES FOR NON-LICENSING OFFENCES
6.9 Whilst current civil and criminal law is capable of dealing with much of that which
is criminalised in outdated taxi and private hire legislation, it is also important that
licensing authorities have adequate enforcement powers in relation to offences
that impinge upon a person’s suitability to be a licence holder. The current
provisions governing sanctions against licensees who have committed a criminal
offence or a serious breach of licensing requirements are complex.
1
Drinking and driving: Road Traffic Act 1988, s 4; dangerous driving: Road Traffic Act 1988,
ss 2 and 2A; careless and inconsideration driving: Road Traffic Act 1988, ss 3 and 3ZA.
2
The standard scale of fines was introduced by s 37 of the Criminal Justice Act 1982. Level
1 on the scale currently corresponds to a fine of £200 and level 3 to a fine of £1,000. Level
5 currently corresponds to a fine of £5,000. From a date to be appointed, a fine at level 5
will be replaced by a fine of any amount, and power will be created to amend levels 1 to 4,
by ss 85 and 87 of the legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. Our
Bill has been drafted on the assumption that ss 85 and 87 will be in force by the time the
Bill is enacted.
3
Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 63.
4
Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 62.
5
Criminal Law in Regulatory Contexts (2010) Law Commission Consultation Paper No 195.
See also Ministry of Justice, “Criminal Offences Gateway Guidance” (2011),
http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/legislation/criminal-offences-gateway-guidance.pdf
(last visited 19 May 2014).
101
6.10 Licensing authorities can suspend, revoke or refuse to renew a private hire or taxi
driver’s licence if the licence holder has been guilty of an offence involving
dishonesty, indecency or violence, or a breach of a statutory licensing
requirement, or for any other reasonable cause.6
The authority can also suspend,
revoke or refuse to renew a vehicle or operator licence in certain other
circumstances.7
In London, Transport for London can suspend or revoke a
private hire licence “for any reasonable cause” and taxi licences can be revoked
on certain grounds.8
Taxi driver licences in London may also be revoked or
suspended.9
Certain offences are triggered by a failure to provide information.10
6.11 We recommend that the provisions referred to in the preceding paragraph should
be repealed, and that the Secretary of State should make it a condition of licence
not to commit certain criminal offences. These could include driving offences,
apart from very minor offences such as parking and congestion charge offences,
as well as offences not directly linked to taxi and private hire work that impinge
upon a person’s suitability to hold a licence. We take a similar approach to
breaches of the Equality Act 2010, which we discuss in Chapter 12 below.
6.12 The Secretary of State’s power to set criteria of eligibility for a driver’s licence
under clause 14 of our draft Bill is wide enough to include criteria relating to past
criminal convictions.
Recommendation 38
We recommend that the Secretary of State should exercise the
standard setting power to provide that a conviction for specified
offences is a breach of a licensing condition, or incompatible
with eligibility to hold a licence.
REPLACING CRIMINAL OFFENCES WITH NATIONAL STANDARDS
6.13 Current law creates a number of minor offences relating to conduct which would
be more appropriately prohibited by a licence condition, breach of which would
result in licensing enforcement action. These are, perhaps unsurprisingly, most
common in the 19th century taxi legislation, but are found in more modern
legislation as well.
6
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 61 (drivers).
7
Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 60, if the vehicle is
unfit for use as a taxi or private hire vehicle, in response to an offence of non-compliance
with taxi/private hire legislation, or for any other reasonable cause. Under the Local
Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 62, in response to an offence of noncompliance with the Act, conduct which appears to render operator unfit to hold a licence
or a material change in circumstances of the operator, or for any other reasonable cause.
8
Under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 16, where specific examples of
reasons for such action are provided, without prejudice to the generality of the power.
Under the London Cab Order 1934, article 19. The grounds include: that the licence has
been obtained through misrepresentation, fraud, or any concealment of information; that
TfL is satisfied, on receipt of new information, that the licence would not be granted if the
holder were a new applicant; or for failure to comply with licence provisions or conditions.
9
London Hackney Carriages Act 1843, s 25.
10 For example, London Cab Order 1934, para 32 requires a taxi licence holder to notify the
authority of a change of address.
102
6.14 Examples include the failure of a taxi proprietor to hold a copy of the licence of a
driver employed by him, punishable by a fine at level 1 on the standard scale,11
and offences punishable by a fine at level 3 on the standard scale, of plying for
hire with a carriage or horse that is unfit for public use,12 and failing without
reasonable excuse to present the vehicle for testing when required.13
CRIMINALISING BREACHES OF NATIONAL STANDARDS
6.15 Although our general approach is one of reducing the possible number of
available criminal offences, the general criminal law being capable of dealing with
most issues, we recognise that there are certain situations in which conduct that
is in breach of a licensing standard can be very serious. In this situation a
separate criminal offence is needed.
6.16 The draft Bill empowers the Secretary of State to designate specified national
standards, with the consequence that breach of them will be a criminal offence
punishable by a fine of up to level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1000).14
Whereas we think that in most cases enforcement against the licence would be
most effective, in other cases, criminal sanctions may be more suitable. This is
particularly the case where vehicles work at a distance from their home licensing
authority. Such designation will be appropriate where, for example, the conduct
prohibited by a national standard is sufficiently detrimental to the interests of
passengers to warrant the deterrent of potential criminal liability. It should not,
however, be possible for breach of local taxi licence conditions to attract criminal
sanctions, since those conditions will deal with matters that are not sufficiently
serious to warrant being dealt with in national standards.
6.17 Examples of breaches of standards which might appropriately be reinforced by
criminal sanctions might include breaches involving dishonesty, such as the use
of a badge that the wearer is not entitled to use or a licence plate that does not
relate to the vehicle to which it is attached, or breaches that endanger the public,
such as using a vehicle whose test certificate is out of date.
Recommendation 39
The Secretary of State should have the power to designate
specific licence conditions, breach of which will amount to a
criminal offence.
11 Currently set at £100. See the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 48.
12 London Hackney Carriages Act 1843, s 17.
13 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 50.
14 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 20(2) of our draft Bill.
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CHAPTER 7
NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE HIRE
INTRODUCTION
7.1 In Chapter 5 we recommended that the Secretary of State should have the power to
set national standards relating to both taxi and private hire services, so far as these
promoted safety, accessibility, enforcement and protection of the environment. In
this Chapter, we consider how these standards would apply in respect of private hire
services, and operator/dispatchers in particular.
7.2 Though we proposed that local licensing authorities would remain responsible for
administering private hire licences, in our consultation paper we proposed that local
licensing authorities should no longer have the power to vary standards locally. We
suggested that only standards as set by the Secretary of State should apply to
private hire services.1

NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE HIRE
Consultation
7.3 The proposal in favour of a uniform set of mandatory standards for private hire
vehicles met with approval from a majority of consultees, although a significant
number disagreed.
7.4 Those who agreed, such as the London Taxi Company, tended to support our view
that the market could be relied upon to set standards for private hire services
beyond the mandatory standards. The National Association of Licensing
Enforcement Officers also agreed with our proposal, but stressed the need to
ensure consistency between taxis and private hire standards.
7.5 Those who disagreed believed that it would be necessary for additional standards to
be applied to private hire services. For example, Transport for London strongly
opposed our proposal. It said that local standard-setting was necessary, particularly
in London, to ensure that customers receive a service that is both of high quality and
safe. It added that customer choice can be illusory, especially when the customer
books online or through an app, with no real knowledge about the particular firm.
Other concerns raised by Transport for London included the risk that tourists could
have a negative experience when travelling in London and that our proposed policy
would hinder initiatives such as the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Strategy, part of
which involves imposing vehicle age specifications on private hire vehicles
Discussion
7.6 We have, naturally, given careful consideration to Transport for London’s concerns.
We are nevertheless not persuaded that London’s status as the national capital city
and an international tourist destination requires higher local standards for private
hire vehicles than are appropriately set in national standards for the country as a
whole. There should be no question of national standards falling short of what is
1
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 26.
104
required for safety or failing to stipulate an acceptable minimum level of quality.
Beyond that, we consider that private hire providers should be free to decide on the
levels of quality and price at which they choose to operate, subject to the usual
discipline of market forces.
7.7 As all lawful private hire journeys are necessarily pre-booked, customers have an
opportunity to compare prices and, to some extent, quality offerings (if so minded,
they can enquire about the models of vehicle a provider uses, for example). Whilst
we accept that the ability to make an informed choice is not perfect, we do not
consider that the solution lies in additional layers of regulation that could only tend to
make private hire journeys more expensive for less well off residents of the capital,
who may depend on affordable private hire services in circumstances where other
forms of public transport are not practicable. The same goes for any other locality.
Recommendation 40
Private hire services should only be subject to national
standards. Licensing authorities should no longer have the
power to impose local conditions.
OPERATOR/DISPATCHER STANDARDS
7.8 Operators (“dispatchers” under our proposed system)2
are responsible for keeping
records of journeys and keeping a degree of control over their fleet. This is important
for safety and assists in other aspects of enforcement. It not only permits licensing
authorities to monitor compliance with the pre-booking requirement; current operator
conditions require licence holders to ensure that the vehicles they dispatch are
licensed and insured and that they carry the appropriate signage or identifiers.
7.9 Currently, operators can only be granted a licence if they are “fit and proper
persons”.3
They can also be made subject to such conditions as the licensing
authority deems “reasonably necessary”.4
We asked consultees whether operators
should remain subject to “fit and proper person” tests.5
Consultation
7.10 The retention of “fit and proper” standards for operators was very popular.
Consultees who supported this tended to emphasise that operators have important
responsibilities in two main areas: in managing customers’ personal data and in
ensuring that they provide a safe fleet of fully licensed drivers and vehicles. James
Button, an academic and solicitor specialising in taxi and private hire regulation,
expressed the former point as follows:
2
We discuss the differences between the range of activities currently covered by operator
licensing and those of “dispatchers” in our draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, in
Chapter 3, from para 3.134.
3
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 55(1); Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 3(3)(a).
4
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 55; Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 3(3).
5
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 51.
105
The nature of their work gives them access to personal
information including knowledge of customers‘ holidays/absences etc.
All staff working for a licensed operator should also be vetted for the
same reasons.
7.11 The London Taxi Company stressed the influence operators have over their drivers:
They will be the guardians of standards for their trade and it would
not be productive if they did not need to meet this standard.
Operators have considerable influence over their drivers and, as we
have seen recently in London, can encourage their drivers to operate
in an illegal manner.
7.12 Stakeholders told us that a major concern related to persons whose operator licence
had previously been revoked for non-compliance with conditions. Many such
persons continued to run private hire operator businesses, simply by having a family
member re-apply for the licence and featuring as the (nominal) holder of the
operator licence. This is clearly a serious problem and highly undesirable.
Discussion
7.13 Operators (or dispatchers, under our new system) play a key role in respect of
private hire licensing. The justifications for imposing fit and proper person criteria on
operators are not as strong as in respect of drivers and vehicles as the latter are
directly involved in providing the transport services. However, we appreciate the
important and legitimate concerns that stakeholders raised about access to the
industry.
7.14 We would expect that suitability criteria imposed by the Secretary of State would be
closely tailored to the ability to carry on an effective dispatcher business, including
having appropriate premises and record-keeping facilities, for example.
7.15 We suggest that the problem of people whose operator/dispatcher licence has been
revoked continuing to run such businesses under a licence issued in the name of
another might appropriately be addressed by a national standard prohibiting the
involvement in a dispatcher business of a former holder of an operator’s or
dispatcher’s licence that was revoked on grounds of non-compliance with conditions.
We recognise that these situations present enforcement difficulties, as licensing
officers may not be aware that such a person has anything to do with a business,
but where licensing authorities are able to discover this, there should be clear
sanctions available to them.
Recommendation 41
We recommend that dispatchers should continue to be subject
to fit and proper person requirements as part of national
standards.
RECORD- KEEPING
7.16 Record-keeping is vital to enforcement. First, records of bookings and of the driver
dispatched are important to monitoring compliance with the pre-booking requirement
that characterises a lawful private hire journey. Secondly, in the event of a
106
passenger complaint, properly kept records ought to enable the dispatcher to
identify the driver and vehicle that performed the journey complained about,
facilitating investigation of the complaint and the taking of any necessary disciplinary
action. Records are also often passed to the police to assist in their enquiries.
7.17 Under current law operators are subject to record-keeping obligations specified in
primary legislation;6
however, the content and form of such records is prescribed by
the licensing authorities.7
The draft Bill empowers the Secretary of State to specify in
Regulations the information that must be recorded and the form of the record.8
The
information about booking which can be required under Regulations includes,
amongst other things:
(1) the identity of the hirer, the person who made the booking or a person
liable to pay the fare;
(2) the identity of the passenger;
(3) the identity of the driver;
(4) the place at which the journey is to start and/or end;
(5) any applicable booking fee (however described);
(6) the agreed price for the hiring (if any);
(7) the method of determining the fare (if no fare is agreed before the start of
the journey); and
(8) an estimate of the fare made in good faith (if no fare is agreed before the
start of the journey).9
7.18 Under our reforms, record-keeping requirements would apply to dispatchers before
the beginning of any journey falling within the scope of regulation.
7.19 The information which may be required by Regulations reflects the Department for
Transport’s Best Practice Guidance in setting national standards for record-keeping
requirements for dispatchers. The guidance states that operator records should
include the name of the passenger, the destination, details of the driver and vehicle
and any fare quoted.10 The period for which records should be held for should also
6
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 56(2); in London, Private Hire
Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 4(3)(c).
7
This can be by means of local licensing conditions or in London, under regulations such as
the Private Hire Vehicles (London) (Operators’ Licences) Regulations 2000, SI 2000 No
3146.
8
Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 38(3).
9
For the complete, non-exhaustive list, see Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause
38(2).
10 Department for Transport Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing: Best Practice Guidance
March 2010, para 32.
107
be specified in the Regulations.11
7.20 The power to set national standards is also flexible enough to allow the Secretary of
State to provide for different record-keeping requirements in respect of different
categories of service provision, such as contracts for regular repeat journeys. The
use of national standards also allows the flexibility to “future-proof” the provisions,
permitting their adaptation, for example, to advances in information technology.
Recommendation 42
We recommend that dispatchers should be subject to a statutory
duty to maintain records in such form as may be prescribed by
the Secretary of State.
REMOVING LOCAL TOPOGRAPHICAL KNOWLEDGE REQUIREMENTS IN
RESPECT OF PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS
7.21 An important consequence of moving away from local standard-setting for private
hire services is that private hire drivers would no longer be subject to locally
imposed topographical knowledge tests. We asked consultees for views on this
proposal.12 We gave four main reasons for this proposed approach. First,
private hire journeys are, by definition, pre-planned.13 Second, whilst having a driver
who knows the best route is desirable, it did not appear to us specifically to promote
safety. Thirdly, private hire drivers already have the ability to work across wide
geographical areas, which would be increased under our proposals, as they would
no longer be restricted to accepting work from operators or dispatchers licensed in
the same area. Fourthly, satellite navigation technology is widely if not universally
used. Local topographical knowledge tests for private hire drivers struck us as an
unnecessary regulatory requirement, and we saw no need for licensing authorities to
require them.
Consultation
7.22 This provisional proposal was very unpopular with both regulators and the taxi trade.
Conversely it was generally supported by the private hire trade. Although we had
phrased the question so that it did not just refer to knowledge tests, in practice this
was what most consultees discussed.
7.23 Some consultees considered that knowledge tests should be regarded as a
safety feature. They suggested that a driver who gets lost may be distracted by
trying to find the right way and risk having an accident. In addition, a passenger may
feel threatened if driven through an unfamiliar area for no apparent reason. During
consultation we heard a number of stories like this both from passengers and
licensing officers. In these situations the passenger might, moreover, be overcharged. Cheltenham Borough Council said that:
11 The necessary power is conferred by the draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause
42.
12 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 27.
13 Our recommendations have reinforced this aspect through a more stringent requirements
as to private hire “pre-booking”: See Chapter 3, from para 3.36.
108
A knowledge test is essential to ensure public safety and
confidence in the licensing regime. Despite the use of technology
today, we consider the need for local knowledge to be vital
nonetheless. We have numerous examples and complaints where
technology has not worked, failed, drivers distracted by them and
been misguided which renders the driver unable to find the desired
location.
7.24 Some private hire users were concerned that they would be particularly vulnerable if
they found themselves in a vehicle with a driver who did not know where he or she
was going. For example, Better Days (a group for adults with learning disabilities
based in Newcastle upon Tyne) told us that:
We are very worried about this. Already some of the taxi drivers who
we have do not know where they are going. They can get lost or
take you to the wrong place. This is very frightening for us… It can be
dangerous if we are dropped off at the wrong place and left. We could
be assaulted or get lost or have an accident.
7.25 In addition, many consultees were sceptical of the argument that the market would
eliminate incompetent operators in the long-run, because of the significant volume of
“one-off” journeys by transient customers. This was a particular concern in tourist
destinations where passengers might rarely book the vehicle themselves, but
instead rely on a hotel, restaurant or other agent to arrange their travel. Blackpool
Council, for example, took the view that even one bad experience by a customer
was not acceptable, and that requiring knowledge tests was the best way to protect
customers.
7.26 A not insignificant minority of consultees agreed with the proposal, however. Many
accepted our view that the market would regulate quality. For example, Chichester
District Council said that “the need for a mandatory standard is less in the case
of private hire as market forces are very likely to ‘drive up’ and maintain standards.”
7.27 Many consultees who agreed with the proposal felt that topographical knowledge
tests for private hire drivers were no longer useful given that there is sophisticated
navigation technology available. A number of consultees, such as NALEO or the
private hire firm Entirely Airports, also noted that many journeys take the driver
further afield than the bounds of the licensing district.
7.28 The United Cabbies Group made a similar point, pointing out that “this would be
difficult to expect a PHV driver to hold a topographical knowledge of the different
areas they may work in.”
Discussion
7.29 There are a number of reasons why topographical knowledge tests are much
less important for private hire drivers than for taxi drivers. Taxi drivers are
bound closely to a specific locality and, due to the requirement of compellability,14
must be ready to take the passenger immediately to his or her chosen destination.
Private hire drivers, on the other hand, must receive the booking from a licensed
14 See Chapter 3, from para 3.76.
109
operator in advance of the journey. The fact that the journey is planned in advance,
and with the support of the operator, takes the emphasis away from the knowledge
of the driver. Moreover, we suggest that national driver standards could
include training of drivers in navigational and map-reading skills.
7.30 In addition, we have recommended that private hire operators should be required to
give customers price information in advance of the journey, similar to the current
position in London.15 This creates an incentive to investigate the route before
embarking on the journey. Operators also have a financial interest in ensuring that
their drivers have good knowledge of the area and navigational skills, to avoid
dissatisfied customers and a consequent loss of business and reputation. We are
aware that it is already common practice for operators to provide their own
navigation and customer-handling training for drivers, illustrating how market forces
can drive standards.
7.31 Third, as was pointed out by a number of consultees, private hire vehicles are
not restricted to working within their licensing district, and cross-border working is
likely to become more frequent under our recommendations. Local
topographical knowledge tests are of little practical benefit in such a context.
7.32 We appreciate the concerns of some consultees that customers who make a one-off
journey with a firm booked for them by someone else may lack control over the firm
chosen and the car and driver sent. This might even sometimes be the case for
customers who book for themselves, for example in an area where only one or two
firms operate. We also appreciate the concerns of disabled users. However, so long
as the customer is kept safe, concerns as to quality, though important, are less
pressing. There is good reason to regulate the former but regulatory intervention in
relation to the latter calls for justification. Customers have the option of complaining
to the private hire dispatcher or the licensing authority. Furthermore, where
operators are selected by restaurants or hotels on behalf of their customers, such
intermediaries have an interest in providing a high quality transport service for
patrons, so market forces operate at that level.
7.33 We suggest that topographical knowledge tests are not the most suitable way of
addressing unsafe practices by private hire drivers. Drivers who are given the
opportunity to plan the journey, and have received training in navigation skills and
disability awareness should be able to provide a service which meets the needs of
disabled passengers. We discuss our proposed measures to promote equality for
disabled users in Chapter 12 below.
7.34 We have considered very carefully the views of consultees who see topographical
knowledge tests as an aspect of safety. They maintain that drivers who do not know
where they are going might put passengers at risk, for example by becoming
distracted by navigational equipment while driving, or by driving the passenger into
an unsafe area. However, driving in an unfamiliar area is already often required of
private hire drivers, as they may frequently undertake journeys which take them
beyond their own licensing area. A topographical knowledge test covering that area
would not prevent them from getting lost elsewhere.
7.35 We appreciate that some very strong concerns have been raised about
15 See Recommendation 6.
110
this provisional proposal. However, while this will be a matter for the Secretary of
State under our draft Bill, we see no sufficient justification for requiring
local topographical knowledge tests for private hire drivers.
PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE SIGNAGE
7.36 Though our consultation paper suggested that most standards for private hire
services should either be part of national safety standards or left to the market, we
asked whether vehicle signage or other aspects of standard-setting might need to
be set at a local level.16
7.37 Two views can be distinguished in this area: firstly, that signage is an important
safety feature as it demonstrates the licensed status of a vehicle, and secondly, that
signage is potentially dangerous as it can be used to attract customers to vehicles
which are in fact unlicensed. As an example, the “pre-booked only” identifiers issued
for private hire vehicles by Transport for London have been criticised on the grounds
that they are easily counterfeited and are used to entice users into unlicensed
vehicles.
Consultation
7.38 Most consultees considered that local standard-setting should be retained in respect
of private hire vehicle signage. Among those consultees, Gateshead Council said
that there should be a possibility for local standards to be imposed, for example
where there is a vehicle colour policy for taxis or private hire vehicles
7.39 On the other hand, a significant minority of consultees argued strongly that signage
for private hire vehicles should be a matter of national policy. Many argued
that appropriate national standards would increase public awareness of the
differences between taxis and private hire vehicles, which would avoid confusion
and promote safety. For example, the London Private Hire Car Association said that:
Many of the problems for the travelling public are caused by
hundreds of differing signage regimes. Local Authorities have failed to
be consistent and confusion reigns…. [S]ome form of number plate
based signage and screen disc system (linked to a national database
for enforcement) would be good for private hire, enforcement and the
travelling public.
7.40 We were shown examples of standardised signage designed to be both obvious and
subtle, universal and regional: for example, the London Private Hire Car Association
demonstrated a specimen licensing plate which would simply carry the letter “T” or
“P” to indicate that the vehicle was a for-hire vehicle.
7.41 Reading Borough Council felt that avoiding public confusion would be
particularly important in the context of our recommended relaxation of the rules on
cross-border private hire work. The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory
Committee felt that clear identification for private hire vehicles would be very useful
for disabled users, in particular those with learning difficulties.
16 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 28.
111
7.42 Several consultees maintained that local authorities currently impose
onerous demands in respect of signage, which do not improve the quality or safety
of services but impose a financial burden on drivers.
7.43 Consultees differed as to the content of any national signage standards.
Some thought that private hire vehicles should carry conspicuous and obvious
signage to warn passengers that such vehicles had to be pre-booked. NALEO told
us that:
We believe that the signage standard formats nationally should be
set by statutory instruments, including name of authority, “private hire
only” or “pre-booked” as determined by consultation [and] operator
name and telephone number. This produces clarity for customers
nationwide whilst allowing firms to effectively advertise their
business.
7.44 On the other hand, The London Taxi Company argued that private hire vehicles
should not be able to carry any overt signage at all, on the basis that they are more
likely to tout and be hailed illegally.
7.45 Others suggested that, depending on the nature of their work, there should be a
scale of signage requirements, with some private hire vehicles (for example, luxury
vehicles) being allowed minimal signage and some required to have more.
7.46 Other consultees supported a mixture of national and local standards. For example,
the Institute of Licensing suggested that local authorities be allowed discretion, for
example to exempt “executive” vehicles from requirements to display external plates
or to add their crest to the plate. Likewise, the Welsh Local Authorities favoured the
idea of a national standard with the ability for licensing authorities to add their own
branding.
7.47 Some consultees also mentioned advertising – many, including the Welsh
Local Authorities, felt that this should remain a local issue. However, some members
of the trades complained about inconsistencies between the policies of
different (sometimes neighbouring) local authorities on this.17
Discussion
7.48 We believe it is important that passengers are able to distinguish easily between a
taxi and a private hire vehicle no matter where they are in the country, to avoid the
risk that they will take a private hire vehicle without a pre-booking. We believe
that signage is an element of safety and enforcement, so that setting standards
in relation to it naturally falls within the powers of the Secretary of State. A number
of consultees, such as the trade union RMT, emphasised the importance of taxis
and private hire vehicles being distinguishable from one another. This is essential to
the two-tier system. The importance of signage in distinguishing taxis from private
hire vehicles applies across England and Wales; potential requirements, such
as banning roof signs on private hire vehicles to avoid them being mistaken for
taxis, would work most effectively if they had nationwide application.
7.49 We appreciate the argument made by some consultees that, if taxi signage can (as
112
we propose) be determined at a local level, local standards might not be coherent
with the national private hire signage standards – for example, one area’s taxis
might end up resembling private hire vehicles too closely. We would expect
licensing authorities to devise their local taxi standards with a view to avoiding this,
and consider that any risk of it could be mitigated through national standards. For
example, these could require taxis to have a roof light, or ban private hire vehicles
from having a roof light; or indeed both.
7.50 There was no clear consensus about the best approach to vehicle signage, even
within licensing areas (most notably, London). However some areas of agreement
were found. For example, vehicle signage requirements could usefully cover the
appearance of licence plates, and could prescribe identifiers following the Transport
for London model. We think that a useful approach could be a template, as
suggested by Welsh local authorities, with licensing authorities able to add their
name and/or crest or other identifying symbol. Within this model it would also be
possible for standards to take into account the calls by operators of executive and
chauffeur services for more discreet or even no visible signage or licence plates.
Our proposed model would allow for different requirements to be set nationally for
different categories of vehicle or service, allowing, for example, luxury chauffeurdriven vehicles to carry minimal, discreet or even no visible signage.
7.51 Finally, we envisage that national standards could incorporate rules on advertising –
for example, a requirement that any advertisement for private hire services should
make it clear that a pre-booking is necessary.
Recommendation 43
Signage requirements for private hire vehicles should form
part of the national standards determined by the Secretary
of State. The Secretary of State should impose requirements that
aim to ensure that the public are able to distinguish easily
between taxis and private hire vehicles.
CROSS BORDER WORKING FOR PRIVATE HIRE SERVICES
7.52 Under current law, a licensed private hire driver can already undertake journeys
starting or ending anywhere in England and Wales.18 Operators are also allowed to
accept jobs where the pick up and drop off are both outside the operator’s licensing
17 We discuss advertising in more detail in Chapter 3, from para 3.24, Recommendation 5.
18 See also Adur District Council v Fry [1997] RTR 257 by Lord Justice Leggatt at p 262; and
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 75(2). Reciprocal provisions
provide that vehicles licensed under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act
1976 and the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 can work cross-border. See: Local
Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 75(2B) which allows drivers and
vehicles licensed in London to pick up and drop off anywhere in England and Wales; and
Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 6(6)(b), which allows vehicles licensed under
the 1976 Act to work in London. The 1998 Act goes further and also clarifies that if a
vehicle and driver are only passing through Greater London they are of no concern to
London’s licensing regime. See Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, ss 6(7) and 12(7)
exempting journeys beginning outside London and in areas not subject to the 1976 Act
(which was originally adoptive) from the requirement for a London private hire vehicle
driver and vehicle licences.
113
district.19 However, current law is very restrictive in respect of how such cross-border
jobs can be undertaken, in that operators are only allowed to work with drivers and
vehicles licensed in the same licensing area.
7.53 It is important to recognise that the cross-border issue is different as between taxis
and private hire vehicles: in the case of taxis, the licensing area determines where
they can ply for hire, whilst private hire vehicles can pursue their trade (always
limited to pre-booked journeys) without any geographical restriction.20 Any change to
the law on how cross-border services may be booked does not therefore change the
fundamental feature that operators are, and will continue to be, allowed to offer their
services to customers being picked up and dropped off outside the operator’s
licensing area.
7.54 Our reforms have the more limited role of removing certain barriers to the way such
cross-border work (which is already lawful) can be undertaken. We next discuss
how our proposed reforms impact on the current triple licensing requirement.
THE TRIPLE LICENSING REQUIREMENT
7.55 Under current law it is a requirement of private hire regulation that the driver, vehicle
and operator be licensed by the same authority.21 The same requirement applies in
London.22 It is generally referred to as the “triple licensing” requirement.
7.56 In our consultation paper we proposed moving away from the current system of
“triple licensing”. This was closely linked with our recommendations relating to
national standards, as the private hire industry would, under our proposed regime,
be subject to a single set of national rules. We therefore favoured moving to a
system where private hire drivers, vehicles and operators could work anywhere in
the country regardless of where their licences were issued.23
Consultation
7.57 This proposal received mixed responses, with a majority disagreeing. The
disagreement came primarily from taxi drivers; those in the private hire trade were
generally in favour and regulators were quite evenly split.
7.58 Cross-border issues in general proved very controversial. Taxi drivers in particular
were afraid of the creation of a “free for all”, with drivers who had not had to meet
such high standards as taxi drivers coming into “their” areas. Unite the Union also
19 Adur v Fry [1997] RTR 257. This is the case provided that the requirement that all three
licenses be granted by the same authority is fulfilled. Here the operator was licensed in
Hove and used drivers and vehicles also licensed in Hove, thus it did not matter that the
relevant journey took place entirely in the Adur area.
20 We discuss taxis working out-of-area in Chapter 3, from para 3.44.
21 See Dittah v Birmingham City Council, Choudhry v Birmingham City Council [1993] RTR
356.This follows from the definition of a “licence” under the Local Government
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which ties it to the controlled district where it was
issued (under s 80(2) of the 1976 Act) combined with the requirement that operators only
work with such “licensed” vehicles and drivers (under section 46(1)(e) of the 1976 Act).
22 Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 4 requires London operators to use Londonlicensed drivers and vehicles.
23 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 41.
114
expressed concerns about the maintenance of standards; however, the concerns
they raised relating to standards presupposed that licensing authorities would still
have the ability to set private hire licensing standards, contrary to our
recommendation above.24
7.59 Concerns were also expressed over how relaxation of cross-border hiring would
interact with the removal of quantity restrictions. Our revised recommendation,
permitting the continuance of quantity controls, removes those concerns.
7.60 The Private Hire Board welcomed greater mobility for drivers, going along with
greater competition and cost savings to the public.
7.61 The London-based private hire provider Addison Lee told us that:
Cross border pick-up is one area where the need for reform
is irresistible. We believe that the current system is inefficient and
keeps willing providers out of the market unnecessarily. Regardless
of how far away it is from its sponsoring licensing authority, if a car
can pick up a pre-booking in an area that it has just dropped off a
passenger, it makes economic and environmental sense for them to
do so.
7.62 Licensing authorities worried about the potential complexities in enforcement where
three different licensing authorities might be involved in a single journey. The
National Association of Licensing Enforcement Officers emphasised the high cost of
policing the system and suggested an alternative requirement to have “driver-vehicle
teams” that would be licensed by the same authority. This would have the
advantage of reducing the number of authorities that might be involved in any
particular incident. However we can also think of reasons why “operator-vehicle”
teams may sometimes be a better combination; for example, in delivering a brand,
for larger operators working across different authorities.
7.63 Transport for London was worried that the possibility for drivers to work for operators
that are not licensed in London would result in growing numbers of providers
entering London, with consequent enforcement issues, in particular the inability of
enforcement officers to visit the operator and establish whether the driver does have
a pre-booking. They suggested that it would be better to concentrate on
strengthening the link between operators, drivers and vehicles in order to
discourage drivers from acting independently.
7.64 Concerns about funding were also widespread. Unite the Union noted:
The inherent unfairness of cross border hiring, in that the taxi
and private hire drivers (and the other licence payers) from authority
“A” are funding the licensing section. Whereas the taxi and private
drivers from authority ”B” are predominately working in authority “A”
and effectively using the facilities without paying the subscription
fees.
7.65 As an illustration of this issue, Unite noted that a major private hire operator was
24 Recommendation 40 above.
115
licensed in Sefton, as were its drivers and vehicles, whilst significant numbers of the
drivers and vehicles work in Liverpool; this resulted in depriving Liverpool City
Council of income from licensing fees which could fund enforcement against these
drivers and vehicles.
Discussion
7.66 Stakeholders pointed to the difficulties in ensuring that standards are
maintained where more than one licensing authority might be involved in a journey.
However we note that, under the reformed system, all private hire drivers and
vehicles would be held to the same standards. We suggest clear protocols in
respect of cross-border enforcement and information sharing.25 We accept that a
new funding system may have to be introduced, with private hire licensing fees
set nationally and provision for redistributing them according to enforcement need.26
7.67 Stakeholders raised arguments highlighting the importance of knowledge of the local
trade in order to provide adequate enforcement. We agree with Transport for
London’s suggestion that the link between the vehicle, operator and driver should be
strengthened, and we have recommended that national standards should require
drivers and vehicle owners to keep records of the vehicles and dispatchers they use
or have available to them.27 This is in addition to the record-keeping requirements of
dispatchers set out above.28 However, even under current law, out of town drivers
can work in London provided they are pre-booked through an operator who is also
based outside London. The triple licensing requirement cannot guarantee that
drivers and vehicles picking up and dropping off passengers in London are working
for London-licensed operators.
7.68 We accept that the current triple licensing requirement facilitates enforcement. It can
provide licensing officers with a better knowledge of the private hire drivers and
vehicles working in their area. However, this has a cost, restricting competition and
hampering operators by artificially restricting the pool of drivers and vehicles they
may work with.
Recommendation 44
We recommend that operator/dispatchers should no longer be
restricted to working only with drivers and vehicles whose
licences are issued by the same licensing authority as the
dispatcher.
SUB-CONTRACTING PRIVATE HIRE DISPATCH SERVICES
7.69 There are many circumstances in which an operator may be unable to fulfil a
customer’s booking. For example, they may have no availability at the time at which
the customer makes a booking, or no vehicle available in the area. Additionally, if
25 See Chapter 10, from para 10.33.
26 Local authorities would retain discretion over taxi licensing fees, as standard-setting for
taxis would remain in part a local function. See draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill,
clause 25(2).
27 See Chapter 5, from para 5.76.
28 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 41.
116
the dispatched vehicle breaks down on the way to the customer, the operator may
wish to sub-contract the booking to another licensed operator. In each of the above
examples sub-contracting is beneficial to the customer, who still gets a car; to the
first operator, who retains the customer’s goodwill and perhaps some commission
for arranging the transaction; and to the operator who fulfils the booking.
7.70 Currently, operators in England and Wales can only subcontract within their
own licensing district, with the exception of operators licensed in London, who
can subcontract anywhere.29 We suggested in consultation that the London system
should be extended throughout England and Wales.30 We also suggested there
should be no prohibition on an operator/dispatcher passing on a booking to another
licensed dispatcher. In such cases the original operator/dispatcher should remain
liable to the passenger for the fulfilment of the booking, in addition to any liability
which the sub-contractor may incur directly to the passenger.
Consultation
7.71 Consultees were fairly evenly divided on this issue. Those who agreed with the
proposal felt that sub-contracting was a sensible way of facilitating co-operation
between firms and providing the most convenient, efficient service to the customer.
7.72 Transport for London noted that sub-contracting in London had been beneficial, as:
It allows operators to work in partnership with companies in
other authorities as well as meeting unexpected eventualities.
Extending the ability to sub-contract could be an opportunity to
address some of the cross border hiring issues affecting licensing
authorities elsewhere in England and Wales.
7.73 Liverpool City Council was concerned about adequate records being made.
It disagreed with the proposal, but added that:
If the Law Commission chooses to pursue this proposal it is
essential in the authority’s view that the original operator is placed
under an express legal duty to (1) obtain the hirer’s consent to the
sub-contract and (2) continue to be accountable for the booking and
have robust measures in place to ensure clarity of record keeping so
that the authority is easily able to scrutinise a sub-contracted booking
at the original operator’s office.
7.74 Wayne Casey of the Carlisle Taxi Owners Association highlighted the potential for
fraud and the danger to the public of a process he referred to as “sub subcontracting” whereby a contractor tenders for work, then sub contracts it to another
party who in turn sub-contracts it to another party at a fraction of the original price.
29 For the prohibition on sub-contracting outside the licensing area see Dittah v Birmingham
City Council [1993] RTR 356; for the position in London see Private Hire Vehicles (London)
Act 1998, s 5(1).
30 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 52.
117
Discussion
7.75 We have noted that sub-contracting is already allowed in London. Even in the rest of
England and Wales, outside London, the policy of the current law is not to prohibit
subcontracting within the same licensing area. The current restriction is related to
the fact that different standards can apply to private hire licensees from different
licensing areas, with no common national standards. Current law also does not
provide adequate cross-border enforcement powers. Our reforms address these
concerns, such that the same rules would apply and bind private hire service
providers regardless of which licensing area issued their licence.
7.76 More fundamentally, our suggested changes to the definition of operators, such that
it would only cover dispatch functions rather than the mere acceptance of bookings,
resolves the issue of out of area sub-contracting. Our new definition of dispatcher
only applies to the person who instructs or requests a driver to use a vehicle to fulfil
a hire vehicle booking.31 By contrast, someone merely accepting a booking, and
passing it on to a dispatcher (and thus having no dealing with a driver) will be
performing an unregulated activity of accepting taking a booking. We consider this
result to be desirable.
7.77 This has the result of requiring only the end dispatcher to hold a record of the
booking.32 This is a sensible outcome, as it is only this dispatcher who will have
some of the information which we suggest might be required; for example, details of
the driver and vehicle dispatched. However, in order to ensure that the end
dispatcher can be identified, we have proposed the creation of a duty of any person
accepting a hire vehicle booking to inform the hirer, in response to a request made
within three months of the journey, of the identity of any person on to whom the
booking was passed.33
7.78 Some private hire operators highlighted the absurdities which can follow from
the prohibition: an operator who is unable to fulfil a booking request cannot pass it to
a nearby operator with capacity simply because that operator is based in a different
licensing area. Our reforms would no longer hinder this, resulting in a more efficient
outcome for passengers.
7.79 We noted that the Deregulation Bill includes certain isolated measures relating to
taxi and private hire. These include an amendment which would expressly allow
sub-contracting within the current legal framework, removing the current restriction
which prevents sub-contracting other than to an operator licensed in the same
district.34
Recommendation 45
Dispatchers should have the ability to sub-contract bookings
to any dispatcher in England and Wales.
31 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 1(6) and 9.
32 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 40.
33 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 43, and recommendation 19.
34 See Deregulation Bill 2013-14, clause 10, introduced on 13 March 2014. The Bill is at the
Committee stage at the time of writing. See http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-
14/deregulation.html (last visited 19 May 2014).
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CHAPTER 8
LOCAL TAXI STANDARDS
INTRODUCTION – LOCAL TAXI STANDARDS
8.1 Under current law, taxi driver and vehicle licence conditions are set at local level.
This means that matters such as the accessibility of a vehicle, its colour and any
age limits are determined by the relevant licensing authority. For drivers, matters
such as acceptable levels of medical fitness, disqualifying criminal records and
topographical knowledge requirements are likewise set locally.
8.2 In respect of private hire services, we have suggested that local standard-setting
is not appropriate, given the competitive and de-localised nature of the services
provided. We are therefore recommending that only national standards should
apply to private hire services.1
By contrast, the strongly local nature of taxi
service provision, anchored to licensing areas through ranking and hailing
privileges, supports a local approach to standard setting. We are therefore
recommending that local standards should continue to apply on top of core
national standards.
8.3 In our consultation paper, we provisionally proposed that licensing authorities
should continue to have the ability to impose local conditions on taxis, whether
relating to safety or otherwise, over and above what we referred to as “minimum”
national standards.2
This was in contrast to our proposal in respect of private hire
vehicles,3
which was for a single set of what we referred to as “mandatory”
standards, set nationally.
Consultation
8.4 The proposal that taxis should be covered both by national standards and local
conditions found favour with a majority of consultees, although a significant
number disagreed. However, it is important to note that many respondents were
misled by the language of “minimum” and “mandatory”, understanding ”minimum”
to mean that the standards would be low, and “mandatory” to mean that the
standards would have to be complied with, suggesting that minimum standards
would not be obligatory. What we intended to convey by referring to “minimum”
standards was that the national standards for taxis could be supplemented by the
addition of further standards at a local level. In describing the national
standards for private hire vehicles as “mandatory”, we meant that they could not
be added to at local level.
1
See Chapter 7 above.
2
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 34.
3
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 26; discussed in Chapter 6 above.
119
8.5 We appreciate that it is a matter of legitimate concern that national
standards should not be set too low. During consultation we discussed at length
with stakeholders the possible content of these standards. As we initially
proposed that standards should relate only to safety, much of this concerned the
key question of what is, and what is not, a safety feature.
8.6 Those who agreed with minimum national standards for taxis regarded them as a
sensible measure, allowing local authorities to respond to specific local issues.
8.7 Nottinghamshire County Council considered that local standards would
“enhance” national standards by tailoring them to local circumstances, allowing
for local variations on issues such as “vehicle specifications/designs and colours
and signage.”
8.8 Licensing authorities were very much in favour of their having a discretion to
impose local conditions on taxis. Many of them were keen to ensure that
standards did not fall below the level they currently imposed on taxis. Other
licensing authorities, however, felt that if national standards were to be introduced
it would be best not to allow any local variation. Birmingham City Council took this
view. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council was of the opinion that it should
retain the power to set fares and to require all vehicles to be wheelchair
accessible, but no more.
8.9 Others tended to feel that standards should be consistent, and that additional
local standards would be unnecessary or unduly onerous. For example,
Wellingborough Borough Council said that national standards would provide a
“level playing field” for the trade, which would “represent the standard we want
our vehicles to meet”. However, it took the view that local conditions should be
allowed if there was “an evidenced need for them”. Other consultees were more
adamant that local standards should not be allowed. West Berkshire Hackney
and Private Hire Association said that “it seems, and indeed is, wrong that
different areas have different safety standards.”
8.10 Some respondents were concerned that local authorities would use their powers
in an arbitrary way. Those in the taxi industry were concerned that licensing
authorities would retain the power to impose vehicle age policies and
colour conditions, two of the standards most widely complained about. Peter
Brown, a taxi driver from Morecambe, said:
If you can guarantee a totally neutral licensing authority then fine,
but in my 31 years driving this has not always been the case.
8.11 A number of stakeholders commented that licensing authorities would be enabled
to continue what were perceived to be restrictive practices in relation to the types
of vehicle which they will licence. Particular examples were given of London, with
its stringent Conditions of Fitness and emphasis on the turning circle, and cities
such as Coventry and Manchester, which have adopted the London Conditions of
Fitness or conditions similar to these.
120
Discussion
8.12 This provisional proposal, which would involve minimal change to the current
position in respect of taxis, attracted much support and forms a key plank of our
suggested regulatory framework. We recommend that those local licensing
authorities that wish to should be able to supplement our proposed national
standards with additional standards set locally. We envisage that the most
important standards, such as those relevant to passenger safety, will be set by
the Secretary of State, and that local standards will not necessarily be very
extensive, though we do not see a need for any statutory circumscription of local
authorities’ powers in this area for the reasons given in the next section of this
chapter. Local standards could be used, for example, by those licensing
authorities that wish to prescribe vehicle colours.
Recommendation 46
We recommend that licensing authorities should retain the
power to set local taxi standards over and above national
standards.
8.13 This recommendation is given effect by clause 19(2) of our draft Bill.
LIMITS ON LICENSING AUTHORITY POWERS?
8.14 From the outset of the project, stakeholders in both the taxi and private hire
trades expressed concerns about the ability of licensing authorities to impose
what were sometimes perceived to be arbitrary or unnecessary conditions.
Moreover, the terms of reference for our project require us to consider removal of
unnecessary burdens on business as an important overall objective of reform.4

8.15 We asked consultation respondents whether there would be benefits to placing
statutory limits on licensing authorities’ discretion to set taxi conditions.5
We
noted that in Scotland, Ministers have the power to prohibit certain conditions.6
Consultation
8.16 Although some consultees were strongly in favour of limits, arguing for example
that local standards were costly to comply with (the United Cabbies Group) and
that limits upon them would aid consistency (Delta Taxis), a majority of
respondents disagreed with the idea of statutory limits. They felt that local
authorities were best placed to assess local conditions. The London Taxi Network
added that such a provision “may restrict a local authority’s ability to react to
changes in marketplace, population or other requirements in future.” Most of
the respondents who supported limits were from the taxi industry. Regulators
were more evenly divided.
4
See also Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, para 1.7.
5
Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 35.
6
Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, s 20; Licensing and Regulation of Taxis and
Private Hire Cars and their Drivers (Prohibited and Required Conditions) (Scotland)
Regulations 1986, SI 1986 No 1238.
121
Discussion
8.17 Rather than placing a restriction on licensing authorities’ powers, we recommend
that the current duty to consult before new local taxi standards are introduced
should be retained. It can be a powerful safeguard. We suggest, however,
discarding outmoded publication requirements and replacing them with a more
modern approach ensuring appropriate engagement with the trades and the
public.
8.18 We have decided not to recommend limiting the powers of licensing authorities
to set local conditions for taxis. The main concern with imposing limits is finding
the right balance between allowing local discretion to regulators, whilst protecting
the trade from what may be costly conditions. We believe that this balance can
be reached without limiting the powers of licensing authorities and by relying on
the current consultation requirements which apply when setting conditions, as
well as general principles of public law and good governance. In Chapter 14 we
recommend the creation of a streamlined judicial review procedure which would
allow challenges to be brought against local authority conditions in a quicker and
more efficient manner.7

Recommendation 47
Licensing authorities should be required to consult on additional
licensing conditions for taxi drivers and vehicles.
8.19 This recommendation is given effect by clauses 15(6) and 20(4) of our draft Bill.
7
See Chapter 14 below, from para 14.50.
122
CHAPTER 9
TAXI FARE REGULATION
INTRODUCTION
9.1 This chapter considers the issue of fare regulation for taxis. We did not address
this in detail in our consultation paper, as we were not aware of it being
problematic. However, during consultation it became apparent that this was an
important area in which some reform could be useful. Further need for reform
became apparent as we developed the framework we recommend for taxi
licensing.
MAXIMUM TAXI FARES
9.2 Fare regulation is a very important aspect of local standard setting. In our
consultation paper we proposed that licensing authorities should retain the ability
to regulate maximum taxi fares.1
We regarded this as an essential element of
consumer protection. This role seems best left to local authorities as the
appropriate scale of fares will depend to a great extent upon economic conditions
within the area. We proposed that private hire fares should remain unregulated.
Consultation
9.3 There was significant support for this provisional proposal. As regards private hire
fares, most respondents agreed that there was no need for regulation. Some
consultees such as Transport for London underlined that the private hire market
provides a very wide range of services, to which should correspond a wide
flexibility in charging for them by operators. However some, such as the National
Association of Licensing Enforcement Officers, suggested that private hire
operators should be required to provide more information about how they set
their fares. Our recommendations have already moved in this direction, requiring
operators to quote a price or estimate for a journey where a customer requests
this.2
9.4 Interestingly, some regulators did not wish to continue regulating taxi fares. One
Institute of Licensing member said:
We believe that the setting of fares should not be the responsibility of
the regulator. The parallel would be the licensing of premises under
the Licensing Act 2003: the licensing authority regulates the premises
but does not fix the price of alcohol. Why not allow market forces to
determine fares for taxis as currently happens for private hire
vehicles?
9.5 By contrast, Transport for London argued that retaining the ability to cap taxi
fares was crucial:
As it protects the travelling public from being charged high fares when
1
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 43.
2
See Chapter 3, Recommendation 6.
123
they are hailing a taxi on street and there may be little choice of other
services available… Taxis provide a universal service and this
includes transparent and standard fares.
9.6 The National Taxi Association and some others argued that, where a meter is
used in a private hire vehicle, it should be regulated in the same way as a
taximeter, applying the regulated tariff.
Discussion
9.7 Our proposal met with almost no resistance from consultees. It follows on from
our views on the differences between taxis and private hire vehicles: customers
have little or no choice when taking a taxi on the street, and so should be
guaranteed a fair price, whereas private hire journeys have to be pre-booked and
the customer can “shop around”.
9.8 Concerns about passengers being taken advantage of in respect of private hire
journeys will be largely addressed by requiring the provision of price information
in pre-booking.3
9.9 Regulation of taxi fares would of course remain a power rather than a duty. We
are aware that at least one licensing district, South Oxfordshire, does not regulate
taxi fares.
9.10 We do not propose extending the power to regulate fares to include private hire
vehicles which use taximeters. Meters must comply with European requirements
relating to the way in which they are calibrated,4
but we do not see any
justification for requiring operators who dispatch private hire vehicles equipped
with them to set prices in any particular way whilst other operators have freedom
over their fares. We have already recommended that the requirement to give
price information in advance should include disclosing the rate applied by a
taximeter.
5
9.11 However, we consider it desirable to bring more clarity and coherence to the
rules about taxi fare regulation, and how they relate to where the journey starts
and ends. We consider that, instead of limiting the power of licensing authorities
to set fares to journeys within their licensing area (as is the case in England and
Wales outside London), or not to limit that power at all (as is currently the case in
respect of London), the better approach is to make fare regulation powers extend
to any journeys within the compellable distance. This could be beyond the
licensing area boundaries.
3
See Chapter 3 above, from para 3.36.
4
See the Measuring Instruments Directive (MID) 2004/33/EC (implemented by the
Measuring Instruments (Taximeters) Regulations 2006, SI 2006/2304). It established the
essential requirements that the measuring instruments will have to satisfy if they are
subject to legal metrological control in a Member State and the conformity assessment that
they have to undergo prior to their placing on the market and putting into use.
5
See Chapter 3 above, Recommendation 6.
124
9.12 In overview, we think that for any journey ending within the compellable
distance,6
it should not be possible for the driver to agree to charge more than the
metered fare (or such fare as may be set using fare tables). Any agreement to
pay more will not be enforceable.7

9.13 During consultation, many taxi drivers expressed their frustration at what they
perceived to be regulated fares set at too low a level, making it difficult for them
to make a living. On the other hand, we also heard evidence of areas in which the
fares are set so high as to restrict demand. The levels at which maximum fares
are set is a not a matter for us to comment on. As we understand it, it is good
practice amongst licensing authorities to consult on proposed changes to fare
regulation and our draft Bill requires review and consultation every three years.8
9.14 We consider that, as is the case currently, a taxi driver should continue to be
allowed to charge more than the metered fare for journeys starting inside the
licensing area and ending beyond the compellable distance;9
the metered fare set
for journeys within the licensing district may be inadequate for a journey ending a
considerable distance beyond the area in which the driver can lawfully resume
plying for hire.
9.15 A higher than metered fare must, however, have been agreed in advance. In
default of agreement, the metered fare should apply. This is a more powerful
protection than requiring the driver to inform the passenger of the price on
request, as we recommend in respect of pre-booked private hire journeys and
taxi journeys starting outside the licensing area. Agreement of a price selfevidently requires stating the price before the journey begins, whether or not this
has been requested. The obligation to agree the price in advance for journeys
starting in but ending outside the compellable area is, however, justified by the
fact that the hirer would expect the fare charged to be on the usual metered basis
unless alerted otherwise.
9.16 Journeys that begin outside the licensing area (which, to be lawful, must be prebooked) are always outside the scope of compellability, and it appropriately
follows that their fares be unregulated. We recommend this should continue to be
the case. We have already recommended that such journeys should be subject to
record-keeping requirements, with the record made before the journey
commences.10 The price or an estimate should be given on request and, if so,
recorded.
6
Which will generally be the licensing authority borders or, at the licensing authority’s
option, up to 7 miles beyond the licensing area boundaries; see Chapter 3 above, from
para 3.76.
7
Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 32.
8
Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 31(6).
9
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 66.
10 See Chapter 3 above, Recommendation 7.
125
9.17 Finally, we have noted a difference between London and the rest of England and
Wales in respect of when the meter can be started. In London, primary legislation
does not prescribe when this can be done: there is a power to regulate fares in
general but no stipulation as to the point from which a metered fare is to be
calculated.11 The London Cab Order goes on to specify that the meter can only
be started at the moment of hiring.12 Outside London, fare-setting powers are
extremely broad;13 however, the overcharging offences in primary legislation
expressly provide that charges can only be calculated from the point at which the
journey starts.14 This effectively excludes charging the customer for the distance
the taxi needs to travel to reach the customer, referred to as “run in” fees. This
approach can cause hardship to drivers, particularly in rural areas where the
“dead” mileage may be considerable, and can discourage undertaking such
journeys at all. Our reforms adopt the London approach and leave any
restrictions on when the meter may be started to local decision-making.
Recommendation 48
Licensing authorities should retain the ability to regulate taxi
fares, in respect of any journey within the compellable distance.
9.18 This recommendation is given effect by clause 31 of our draft Bill.
Recommendation 49
A taxi driver should be allowed to charge more than the metered
fare for journeys starting inside the licensing area and ending
beyond the compellable distance only if this is agreed in
advance. In the case of pre-booked journeys starting outside the
compellable distance the price or an estimate should be given
on request and, if so, recorded.
9.19 This recommendation is given effect by clause 32 of our draft Bill.
PRE-BOOKED TAXI FARES AND BOOKING FEES
9.20 In our consultation paper, we asked whether taxi drivers should be allowed to
charge more than the metered fare for pre-booked journeys on the same basis as
private hire vehicles, whose prices are unregulated.15
11 London Cab and Stage Carriage Act 1907, s 1.
12 London Cab Order 1934, para 39.
13 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 65(1); and the Town Police
Clauses Act 1847, s 68 (providing for the same power but through the use of byelaws).
14 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 67(1).
15 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 44.
126
9.21 In England and Wales, including London, licensing authorities have very broad
powers to regulate all charges in connection with the hire of a taxi or with the
arrangements for the hire.16 Pre-booked taxi journeys are regulated on the same
basis as hail and rank journeys. Case law has confirmed that fare regulation and
overcharging offences also cover how much can be charged as a booking fee.17
This is significant because it means that it is unlawful to charge a booking fee
unless the relevant licensing authority has expressly authorised it; or to charge
any more than the licensing authority has allowed.18
9.22 Booking fees have gained additional significance with the increased market
presence of smartphone apps being used to arrange taxi services. The pricing
models of these new apps often do not fit clearly within the current regulated fare
structure.19 For example, at the time of writing, the London Cab Order refers to a
maximum booking fee for “telephone bookings” but is silent on internet
bookings.20 Transport for London has decided to extend its £2.00 telephone
booking surcharge to cover bookings made using mobile phones, smartphones
apps and online services in its annual revision of taxi fares and tariffs for
2014/2015.21
9.23 There are also some significant differences between the overcharging offences in
London compared to the rest of England and Wales. In London, “every driver of
a hackney carriage who shall demand or take more than the proper fare” (which
covers any payment in relation to the hire, therefore including booking fees)
commits an offence. The absence in London of an overcharging offence by
intermediaries means that payments in excess of the permitted maximum paid
directly to smartphone apps, for example, could not be prosecuted; however,
payments to drivers clearly could be.
16 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 65 for England and Wales; and
London Cab and Stage Carriage Act 1907, s 1 for London. Only journeys ending beyond
the licensing areas fall outside the scope of regulation.
17 See House v Reynolds [1977] WLR 88 and, for London, Bassam v Green [1981] RTR 362.
18 The treatment of booking fees varies across licensing authorities. For England and Wales,
outside London, we have used data compiled by the National Private Hire Association in
2011. Of the 337 authorities surveyed, 44 expressly regulated booking fees capping them
between £20 at Alnwick DC down to 20p in Brighton and Hove for a telephone booking.
Other authorities allow a booking fee that varies depending how far from the rank the taxi
was at the time of the booking; others also require the passenger to be informed or for
there to be an agreement to charge such fee; others allow a charge per mile up to a
maximum distance from the passenger. Only two authorities expressly prohibit booking
fees. The London Cab Order 1934 caps telephone booking fees at £2.00.
19 See, for example, Hailo’s minimum fare requirement: https://hailocab.com/blog/2014/0
1/03/Minimum-fares-reduced-by-20%25 (last visited 19 May 2014).
20 London Cab Order 1934, para 40(4)(b).
21 http://www.tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2014/february/tfl-board-agreeslowest-taxi-fares-rise-in-more-than-10-years (last visited 19 May 2014)
127
9.24 By contrast, outside London, any person charging a “rate of fares or charges”
greater than the maximum allowed by the licensing authority can be
prosecuted.22 Both drivers and smartphone apps are therefore prohibited from
receiving payments beyond the regulated amounts.
Consultation
9.25 Most stakeholders disagreed with removing price controls on pre-booked taxi
journeys, though a significant number agreed. Those who disagreed felt that
pricing freedom would be open to abuse and that customers deserved the
security of metered payment. However, some argued that in this capacity taxis
were no different from private hire vehicles and should have the same market
advantages.
9.26 The National Association of Licensing Enforcement Officers disagreed with our
suggestion, arguing that:
It is open to tariffs to include a “booking fee” but if taxis truly wish to
compete with a market force driven service like private hire they
should not then be on time and distance calculation but should be on
distance only like the majority of private hire services nationwide.
9.27 One Institute of Licensing member took a similar view, recommending permitting
booking fees but no more. The member also suggested that these should be
displayed on the tariff card rather than simply added at the end of the journey.
9.28 Even where stakeholders agreed, many felt there should be limitations. For
example, the National Taxi Association felt that any additional charge should only
cover dead mileage. Transport for London suggested that only companies
approved by Transport for London (and presumably other licensing authorities)
should have the ability to charge unregulated fares, and that they should be
subject to the following stringent requirements:
(1) publishing details of the fares charged;
(2) keeping, in accordance with appropriate processes, a record of all
bookings, including passenger details, date of booking, date of journey,
destination, fare charged, and the driver and vehicle used, for a minimum
of six months;
(3) being a limited company or registered/friendly society;
(4) having structures in place to check the licence status of participating
drivers, the vehicles they use and to ensure that any restrictions on
plying for hire are complied with; and
(5) dealing with complaints.
22 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 67(2). Owners are also liable to
a penalty outside London, although the scope of their liability is not exactly the same as
that of the drivers. Proprietors can be prosecuted if the demand relates to an excessive
fare, but only in respect of amounts charged “as a fare” rather than payments made in
respect of collateral agreements. By contrast, proprietors in London are not liable for
overcharging offences.
128
9.29 Welsh local authorities, in their joint response, felt that charging above the
metered fare should only be allowed where agreed in advance. The GMB agreed
with this suggestion. The United Cabbies Group felt that:
It would be anticompetitive and unfair to require taxis to have
regulated pre-booked fares whilst private hire vehicles use
unregulated pre-booked fares.
9.30 As we noted above, since the close of consultation, regulators and stakeholders
have highlighted the problems of extra charges by smartphone apps. Trade
representatives worried that taxi drivers might unwittingly be committing
overcharging offences if they requested payment in respect of internet booking
fees that had not been authorised by their local licensing authority.
Discussion
9.31 We accept that any departure from the maximum price allowed by a meter or fare
table could undermine the protections which price controls are intended to
provide in taxi regulation. Any modification of this position needs both to have a
strong justification and to be tightly framed.
9.32 The justifications for imposing both quality standards and fare regulation on taxis
relate to problems of inequalities of bargaining power in the way rank and hail
markets work. Unlike quality standards, price controls can be journey-specific and
are capable of being lifted in respect of (competitive) pre-booked work. However,
we accept stakeholders’ concerns regarding the severe difficulties this could give
rise to as a matter of enforcement. Moreover, it could undermine compellability,
and provide scope for abuse of vulnerable customers if passengers who for
practical reasons need to pre-book could be required to pay above the regulated
fare for a journey within the compellable distance.
9.33 In light of the above, we think that it would not be practicable to de-regulate
completely the fares charged by taxis working on a pre-booked basis. To do so
would be too disruptive of the two tier system, and would undermine the
important differences which mark the way taxis are regulated compared to private
hire services.
9.34 As regards journeys commencing in the licensing area but ending beyond the
compellable distance, we have already recommended that departure from the
metered fare must be the subject of agreement in advance. We consider that that
must equally be the case when the journey is pre-booked.
9.35 Taxi journeys commencing outside the licensing area (which, to be lawful, must
be pre-booked) are not currently subject to fare regulation. We do not propose
disturbing that position. We recommend, however, that taxi drivers be under a
duty, broadly corresponding to that of private hire operators, to state a price or a
price estimate on request and to make a record of any such price information
given.
129
Booking charges
9.36 The regulation of pre-booked taxi charges creates an imbalance of regulation
between taxis and private hire vehicles in a market where they are both
competing for the same work, potentially placing taxis at a disadvantage. We
have therefore considered whether aspects of taxi charging for pre-booked
journeys, and in particular booking charges collected by or on behalf of a third
party intermediary, might be de-regulated without undermining the two tier
system and the important consumer protections which fare controls provide. We
were particularly concerned with finding a proper place for smartphone apps
within the pricing structure for taxi journeys.
9.37 Unlike other “extra” charges relating to the hire (which may relate to things such
as excess baggage, soiling charges or road tolls for example), fees charged to
customers for finding them an available taxi are an aspect of a more competitive
market being opened up by the new technology. We consider that there are
strong consumer benefits in allowing third party arrangement fees to be outside
fare regulation, opening up competition within the taxi market and with private
hire services.
9.38 The draft Bill provides that third party arrangement fees will only be unregulated if
agreed in advance;23 this only applies to fees agreed with third parties: fees
charged by taxi drivers for taking bookings will continue to be capable of being
regulated, so as to avoid the risks of abuse or evidential difficulties that could
arise if drivers were allowed to take elements of remuneration for themselves that
were unregulated.
9.39 Booking fees received by intermediaries directly from the passenger (such as
where the user of an app pays by credit card) ought not to give rise to problems
of distinguishing them from unlawful additions to the regulated fare. We
recommend that they be unregulated.
9.40 Indeed, a number of licensing authorities already allow third party arrangement
fees to be charged provided they are agreed with the customer in advance.24 As
is already the position outside London, the new overcharging offence in our draft
Bill can be committed by any person that demands more than the proper charge,
and not just the driver.25
9.41 We have also considered whether taxi drivers should be permitted to collect
unregulated booking charges on behalf of intermediaries, an arrangement that
can be convenient to the passenger who prefers to make one payment at the
conclusion of the journey. We have concluded that they should.
23 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill clause 31(8) and (9).
24 We noted such requirements in Sunderland, Berwick-upon-Tweed, North Norfolk and
Elmbridge for example.
25 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 32(5).
130
9.42 As with other unregulated booking fees charged by intermediaries, those that are
to be collected by the driver on behalf of the intermediary will have to have been
agreed in advance between the intermediary and the passenger, who will be in a
position to know whether the amount subsequently demanded by the driver
corresponds to what was agreed. The intermediary can be expected to have
made a record of the booking and to have an interest in collecting payment of the
booking fee from the driver. We do not rule out the possibility of abuse,
particularly where bookings are accepted by telephone, but we do not consider
that the risk of it is sufficiently great to justify regulating booking fees charged by
third parties or outlawing this flexible method of collecting them.
Recommendation 50
We recommend that licensing authorities should retain the
power to regulate fares charged for pre-booked taxi journeys.
However, there should be no power to regulate third party
booking fees, provided these are agreed in advance.
9.43 This recommendation is given effect by clause 31 of our draft Bill.
131
CHAPTER 10
ADMINISTRATION OF THE LICENSING SYSTEM
INTRODUCTION
10.1 As we noted in Chapter 5, the delivery of licensing functions would remain at a
local level under our reformed system.1
Licensing authorities remain central to the
administration and enforcement of the licensing system under our reforms. In this
chapter, we look more closely at the role of licensing authorities within the
reformed system, and in particular in respect of issuing licences, licensing fees,
cooperation among different licensing authorities and zoning powers.
10.2 Under current law day-to-day responsibility for taxi and private hire licensing lies
with local authorities.2
This covers aspects such as issuing licences and
enforcement. It is for individual local authorities to determine how to exercise their
powers. Some authorities have a licensing committee, and perhaps subcommittees, with general responsibility for all licensing functions or for delegating
decisions to licensing officers, whilst others may have a mixed committee and
member structure. Councils can lay down licensing policies. They can also
determine the application procedure and the circumstances in which a licence
may or may not be granted.3
10.3 London has unique governance arrangements, with a dedicated authority for
transport, and the Mayor has a direct role in setting transport policy.4
The
legislation provides that the licensing authority is Transport for London5
and the
licensing functions are devolved to London Taxi and Private Hire, which is part of
Transport for London. Transport for London also has powers to make secondary
legislation.
1
See Chapter 5 above, para 5.5.
2
In England, these may be district councils, metropolitan district councils or unitary
authorities. In Wales, all authorities are unitary and are referred to as county councils or
county borough councils.
3
See initiatives such as MerseyTravel which coordinate public transport in partnership with
bus and rail operators but also cover taxi and private hire,
http://www.merseytravel.gov.uk/Pages/Welcome.aspx (last visited 19 May 2014). See also
the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority: http://www.sypte.co.uk/default.aspx
(last visited 19 May 2014).
4
Greater London was excluded from the general reorganisation of local government in
England and Wales effected by the Local Government Act 1972. The more recent
reorganisation of London government under the Greater London Authority Act 1999
created a new type of organisation that has no parallel elsewhere, the Greater London
Authority. This Act places the Mayor under a general duty to develop and implement
policies for the promotion of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and
services to, from and within Greater London (s 141) and to publish a transport strategy (s
142).
5
Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s 6 (amended by the Greater London Authority Act
1999).
132
10.4 The Traffic Commissioners are responsible for licensing public service vehicles.6
Where such vehicles have fewer than nine passenger seats, there is some
overlap with private hire licensing functions, to which we have referred in Chapter
4 above.7

10.5 The Secretary of State for Transport has responsibility for taxi and private hire
legislation in England (with the exception of certain secondary legislation relating
to London, which is now made by Transport for London).8
The Department for
Transport and its executive agencies issue guidance to local authorities and other
relevant stakeholders on the application of the legislation, both specifically in
relation to taxis and private hire services, and more generally in relation to motor
vehicles.
ISSUING LICENCES
10.6 The draft Bill provides that licensing authorities retain responsibility for issuing
both taxi and private hire licences.9
10.7 Under current law, the maximum duration of licences in England and Wales
(including London) is as follows:
(1) driver licences, three years;10
(2) operator licences, five years;11 and
(3) vehicle licences, one year.12
10.8 Amendments made to the Deregulation Bill on 13 March 2014 will, if enacted,
introduce a uniform duration of three years for taxi and private hire driver
licences, five years for operator licences, and one year for vehicle licences. Local
authorities will only have the power to issue licences of a shorter duration where
6
See Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, ss 3 to 5, amended by the Local Transport Act
2008. The Traffic Commissioners for England and Wales cover six traffic areas: eastern;
north eastern; north western; West Midlands and Wales (two traffic areas with one
Commissioner); western; and south eastern and the Metropolitan area.
http://www.dft.gov.uk/topics/tpm/traffic-commissioners/profiles/ (last visited 19 May 2014).
7
See Chapter 4 above, from para 4.53.
8
See, for example, the power to make regulations under s 32 of the Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, which vests in the licensing authority (defined in section 36 of that Act
as Transport for London). This change was made by the Greater London Authority Act
1999, s 254 and Schedule 21, paras 1 and 2.
9
Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 3 and 13.
10 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 53(1)(a) and (b); Metropolitan
Public Carriage Act 1869, s 8(7) and the London Cab Order 1934, para 27; Private Hire
Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 13(5)(c).
11 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 55(2); Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 3(5).
12 In England and Wales excluding London, see Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 43 (taxis)
and Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and s 48(4)(c) (private hire).
In London, see Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 s 6(4) and London Cab Order 1934,
para 14 (taxis) and Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 7(6) (private hire).
133
this was justified on the circumstances of the case.13 The change is aimed at
reducing the financial and administrative burden associated with shorter licence
periods.14 At the time of writing, the Deregulation Bill was at report stage.15
10.9 Our draft Bill restates those uniform durations for private hire licences, subject to
the ability of the Secretary of State to specify shorter durations in prescribed
circumstances.16 This would allow, for example, shorter licence periods for a
vehicle temporarily replacing a vehicle damaged in an accident.17 This flexibility
can also be valuable in order to cater for seasonal variations in fleet sizes. In
respect of taxi services, the duration of licence would remain a local matter,
subject only to the statutory maximum.
LICENSING FEES
10.10 Funding is critical to effective enforcement. Under current law taxi and private
hire licensing is self-funding.18 This means that revenue from taxi and private hire
licensing cannot be devoted to unrelated purposes.
10.11 In our consultation paper we noted certain gaps in the current system. For
example the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1976, which
governs licensing fees in England and Wales (outside London), does not
expressly allow fee revenue to be applied to cover enforcement costs in respect
of drivers and operators, although it does allow it to be applied to enforcement
against vehicles.19 This may be regarded as an anomaly.20 In London, the
statutory provisions in respect of licensing fees are broader and do not give rise
13 Deregulation Bill, clause NC10, available at
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-
2014/0162/amend/pbc1621303a.57-60.html (last visited 19 May 2014).
14 Letter from Department for Transport to taxi and private hire stakeholders, 14 March 2014.
Available at www.naleo.org.uk/Uploads/documents/website_forms/2014.03.14 James
Padden DFT Letter to taxi and PHV stakeholders.pdf (last visited 19 May 2014).
15 See http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/deregulation.html (last visited 19 May
2014).
16 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 22(2).
17 Stakeholders told us about problems that arise where a substitute vehicle needs to be
used as a result, for example, of damage to the licensed vehicle in an accident. Different
licensing authorities take different approaches. It is preferable in our view that local
authorities should, in these circumstances, issue a temporary licence. However, this
should remain at the discretion of the authority, which ought in any event to have in place
an appropriate procedure for permitting the temporary use of a suitable substitute vehicle.
18 In England and Wales see the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss
53(2) and 70; in London see the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, ss 6 and 8 and the
Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, s 20.
19 See Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 53; and the Audit
Commission’s decision in respect of Guildford Borough Council at
www.guildford.gov.uk/cHttpHandler.ashx?id=6647&p=0 (last visited 19 May 2014).
20 See J Button, Button on Taxis: Licensing Law and Practice (3rd ed 2009) para 4.17: In
relation to drivers, the costs of issue and administration can be covered; in relation to
vehicles, the costs of inspection, ranks, control and supervision (including enforcement),
the administration connected with it, can be covered; and, in relation to operators’ licences,
it appears that only the costs of administration can be covered.
134
to such problems.21 Licensing authorities can also arrange joint enforcement
operations with the police, which is an added cost.22
10.12 We think that the current principle that taxi and private hire licensing is to be selffunded should be maintained. Although cross-funding between taxi and private
hire and between different types of licences should be permitted, taxi and private
hire licensing revenue should be ring-fenced from other licensing authority
revenue.23
Recommendation 51
The principle of cost recovery should continue to apply in
respect of taxi and private hire licensing fees.
10.13 This is given effect by clause 25 of our draft Bill.
Recommendation 52
Licensing authorities should be able to collect and use licensing
fees from taxi and private hire licensing only for the following
purposes:
(1) administration of the licensing system (including but not
limited to processing applications for granting or renewing
licences and carrying out inspections and tests);
(2) statutorily required reviews of fare levels, rank provision,
accessibility and existing quantity restrictions at least every
three years;
(3) enforcement of the licensing system including but not
limited to the control and supervision of taxi and private hire
services (whether licensed or unlicensed) and activities
associated with suspending or revoking licences; and
(4) providing taxi ranks.
The level of licensing fees
10.14 It is important to the proper functioning of the licensing system that the purposes
for which licensing fees can be used should be appropriately framed. We have
noted that under current law licensing authorities set their own licensing fees on
21 Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, ss 6 and 8; and Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act
1998, s 20 and Private Hire Vehicles (London) (Operators’ Licences) Regulations 2000, SI
2000 No 3146.
22 Transport for London works closely with the Safer Transport Command MPS and City of
London Police. Transport for London also has the power to appoint officers of the
Metropolitan Police to assist with enforcement. See Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869,
s 12.
23 See HM Treasury, Managing Public Money (July 2013), para 6.2.
135
the basis of cost recovery.24 There are considerable variations across licensing
authorities.
10.15 Our reforms include the introduction of uniform national standards for private hire
services across all licensing authorities in England and Wales. National taxi and
private hire vehicle standards would be comparable, reducing the incentive to
obtain a taxi licence in one licensing area with a view to performing private hire
work in another, but it is also necessary that taxi licensing fees should be no
lower than the national private hire fee, to avoid applicants choosing to obtain a
licence from the cheapest authority.
10.16 Our recommendations therefore include the introduction of a mandatory private
hire licensing fee which could not be varied locally. Taxi licensing fees should be
set locally, but at a level no lower than the national private hire fee.25
Recommendation 53
We recommend that the Secretary of State should set a private
hire licensing fee which could not be varied locally. Taxi
licensing fees should continue to be set locally, but at a level no
lower than the national private hire fee.
10.17 The setting of a uniform licensing fee for private hire (which would act as a
minimum for taxi licensing) may result in certain authorities collecting more
revenue from fees than they are able to spend on enforcement. Funding also has
a particularly strong impact on the effectiveness of cross-border enforcement. We
noted in our consultation paper that locally licensed drivers, proprietors and
operators often feel resentful at seeing their licence fees spent on enforcement
against out of area vehicles. During evidence to the Transport Select Committee,
it was pointed out that:
We end up paying more money to enforce [against drivers from other
authorities] or trying to enforce those drivers. Even if, for example, a
driver is found plying for hire, the local authority never gets back the
full costs of taking that driver to court. In turn, this puts up our costs,
while these other operators carry on working for free.26
10.18 The licensing officers of busy city centres typically need to undertake a
considerable amount of enforcement activity against vehicles, drivers and
operators from other licensing areas. Liverpool experiences a strong influx of cars
from Merseyside, as does Manchester from Rossendale and Rochdale for
example. Such out of area vehicles, drivers and operators do not contribute to the
licensing revenue of the areas in which they may predominantly work, and this
can lead to imbalances between revenue and spending, and undermine the ring24 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss 53(2) and 70; Town Police
Clauses Act 1847, s 46.
25 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 25(5).
26 Taxis and private hire vehicles: the road to reform, Report of the Select Committee on
Transport, (2010-12) HC 720, Ev 3 Q15.
136
fencing principle noted above.27
10.19 Much cross-border working is lawful. Private hire vehicles are entitled to pick up
passengers outside of their licensing area and the same is true in respect of taxis
working out area on a pre-booked basis. However, our recommendations remove
significant barriers to cross-border working that exist under the current system.
Apart from the introduction of national standards, replacing the existing concept
of operator with “dispatchers” will considerably liberalise cross-border working.
This is because dispatchers will no longer be restricted to accepting and inviting
bookings only in the particular licensing area which issued the dispatcher’s
licence. Further, abolishing the triple licensing requirement will enable
dispatchers to work with vehicles and drivers from different areas. For these
reasons, licensing authorities may need to enforce against licensees from
different areas to a greater extent than is currently the case.
10.20 Whereas cross-border activity already occurs and brings advantages in terms of
flexibility for business and consumer choice, it poses challenges in appropriately
funding enforcement. It is noteworthy that completely unlicensed vehicles and
drivers (the most dangerous providers) do not pay anything into the system at all,
and yet are rightly regarded as a top enforcement priority. This is true under
current law, and will remain the case further to our reforms.
10.21 In order to address the above problems, we consider that the Secretary of State
should have the power to establish a system for pooling and redistributing
receipts from private hire licence fees on a national basis, or to allow licensing
authorities to carry over any excess revenue for the following year. It should be
for the Secretary of State to determine the appropriate basis for redistribution, if
any. This could, for example, use both general data such as population and more
specific measures such as traffic flows and information on private hire pick up
locations from operators’ records as a measure of the need for enforcement
activity for that area.28 We discuss cross-border enforcement in detail in Chapter
13 below.
Recommendation 54
We recommend that the Secretary of State should have the
power to set up a system of pooling private hire licence fees
nationally, for the purposes of redistributing these to reflect
enforcement needs, in accordance with such a scheme as may
be prescribed.
10.22 This recommendation is given effect by clause 25(9) of our draft Bill.
COOPERATION BETWEEN LICENSING AUTHORITIES
10.23 In our consultation paper we asked whether statute should mandate cooperation
27 For example, the problem of out of area taxis was a main theme of the taxi and private hire
stakeholder meeting organised by the National Association of Licensing Enforcement
Officers, referred to as the Meeting of Minds, held in Bolton on 15 April 2014.
28 The merits of instituting a redistribution system, and the appropriate metrics that may be
used, depend on complex questions of economics and are not within the expertise of
lawyers to determine.
137
between licensing authorities, or whether it should be left to informal local
arrangements, as is currently the case.29
Consultation
10.24 This question received mixed responses, although there was general support
among stakeholders for greater cooperation between different licensing
authorities. A majority of respondents were in favour of a statutory basis for
cooperation arrangements. For example, the Private Hire Board felt this would be
useful in creating consistency and efficiency, and that authorities should be able
to pool their budgets. One Institute of Licensing member felt that a statutory basis
was a necessity flowing from the removal of geographical licensing requirements
for private hire services, otherwise one local authority undertaking no
enforcement would “become the authority where applicants go for licences
leaving the other authority where the work is to fund and undertake all the
enforcement.”
10.25 Those that disagreed seemed to be in favour of the ability to work together but
felt that this should not be a requirement. Many consultees, such as Liverpool
City Council and the London Taxi Company, highlighted the need for the
cooperation to remain flexible and at the discretion of the authorities concerned.
Welsh Local Authorities shared this view, noting that: “It may be useful for small
local authorities but county councils with large geographical areas may find
… costs prohibitive.” Some stakeholders noted how certain existing governmentowned technology could assist in better data sharing. We discuss information
sharing from paragraph 10.33 below.
Discussion
10.26 During consultation many stakeholders expressed concern that
national standards could not work unless there was robust enforcement, including
in respect of cross-border vehicles. We agree that a clear allocation of
responsibility in respect of cross-border journeys is key to appropriate
enforcement, and we discuss the relevant statutory duties that we recommend
should apply in such cases in Chapter 13 below.
10.27 We take the view that a statutory duty to cooperate outside the context of specific
cross border enforcement procedures would be over-regulatory and prescriptive.
Cooperation between licensing authorities needs to be implemented according to
the different local governance structures and needs to be flexible enough to allow
authorities to proceed in the way which best suits the needs of their local area.
COMBINING LICENSING AREAS
10.28 In our consultation paper we also suggested that licensing authorities should
have the ability to combine their licensing areas for the purpose of standardsetting.30 We understand that in some areas this already happens on an informal
basis, with positive results.
29 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 37.
30 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 38.
138
Consultation
10.29 This proposal received significant support. The Welsh Government suggested
that use of this power might be appropriate where it may lead to efficiency
savings.
10.30 Transport for London’s perspective was very useful, as it already has knowledge
of regulating taxis and private hire vehicles across a large area. Transport for
London identified a number of benefits in having a regional or sub-regional
licensing authority: consistent licensing standards for operators, vehicles and
drivers; a consistent approach to compliance and enforcement; absence of cross
border hiring problems; and economies of scale in the administration of licensing.
Discussion
10.31 A large majority of respondents agreed with this provisional proposal and
we confirm our recommendation to include this power within the reformed
licensing framework. Two or more licensing authorities should be able to choose
to combine their licensing areas and allow taxis to be used at ranks and to accept
hails within their combined areas. As standards will necessarily be the same
across all licensing authorities in respect of private hire services, combining
licensing areas may also create greater efficiency in respect of issuing private
hire licences. It could provide scope for pooling resources, data and
expertise between licensing authorities. This would not involve any formal change
to the structure of participating authorities and would be entirely optional.
Licensing authorities opting to do this would agree to treat a licence issued by
any other participating licensing authority on the same basis as its own. Overall,
reducing the number of licensing borders can deliver considerable savings and
improved efficiencies.
Recommendation 55
Licensing authorities should have the power to combine their
taxi and private hire licensing areas.
10.32 This recommendation is given effect by clause 71 of our draft Bill.
SHARING INFORMATION
10.33 It was a major concern among licensing authorities that they had no way of
checking whether a driver requesting a licence had previously had an application
refused or a licence revoked by another authority. Current law requires licensing
authorities to make licensing information available free of charge at reasonable
times on request.31 This is a helpful requirement, but is not sufficient to allow
licensing authorities to detect applicants that have been rejected as unsuitable by
another licensing authority. National standards can help reduce the scope for this
happening, as all authorities will apply the same standards, without the significant
regional variation which can exist at the moment, particularly as regards crucial
matters such as the treatment of applicants with a criminal record. However,
sharing information is vital, and lack of provision for it is a major gap in the
current system.
31 Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 42.
139
10.34 As regards the practicalities of how to achieve such a system, in particular with a
view to ascertaining whether a licence has been revoked or suspended, the MidSussex District Council suggested setting up a national database of
licences, funded and supported by the Government. Where licensed operators,
drivers or vehicle proprietors do not comply with their licensing obligations such a
national database would be helpful in ensuring better traceability and
accountability. It is worth noting that the advantages of a national database would
be equally relevant to the current system.
10.35 Shared Service Implementation and Policy Advisors (S2
IPA) made a submission
to us setting out how work they have conducted for the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office might usefully be deployed within the taxi and private hire
licensing setting. Technology could be used to give public authorities, such as the
police and licensing officers, access to secure data centres containing taxi and
private hire licensing information from all authorities sharing such technology.
Importantly for street level enforcement, it could also be available to officers
through smartphones.32 Furthermore, certain licensing authorities have been
identified to participate in pilot programs using this information sharing
technology, for example, in the West Midlands and in London.
10.36 Better use of technology as part of enforcement can also aid more efficient and
targeted enforcement spending. We note that other information sharing initiatives,
such as the Electoral Registration Transformation Programme,33 may also
provide valuable lessons for information sharing in the taxi and private hire
context.
10.37 Global Business Register told us about their systems to allow passengers
to check the status of drivers through quick response codes using a
scanning function in their mobile phones.
10.38 It is not within our remit to comment on the merits of switching from licensing
authorities’ current data handling systems to some of the systems which were
brought to our attention during consultation. We stress that our proposals are not
contingent upon having a national database; the delays and difficulties in
developing a national database for the Licensing Act 2003 warn against this.34
The draft Bill therefore creates a simple duty on licensing authorities to publish
their licensing data and gives the Secretary of State the power to make
regulations prescribing the contents of the data, any information which must not
be published and the manner of publication.35
10.39 We suggest that the Secretary of State should consider a requirement to publish
such data online, such that the public, and other providers, may verify a
provider’s status. This obligation would be particularly valuable in aiding crossborder enforcement. However, we note that the sharing of other data, which may
32 Since consultation, S2
IPA, through its sister company Tangent Securities, has engaged
with Lockheed Martin UK (LM), the defence and intelligence business, which has
conducted an evaluation of the technology and is now technically verifying the architecture
of the capability.
33 See https://www.gov.uk/transformation/register-to-vote (last visited 16 May 2014).
34 See Culture, Media and Sports Committee, The Licensing Act 2003 (2008 – 09), HC 492.
35 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 23.
140
not be suitable for the public domain, may be very useful for enforcement.36
Information sharing technology could be an important aid to enforcement in taxi
and private hire licensing.
Recommendation 56
We recommend that licensing authorities should be under a duty
to publish their driver, vehicle and operator licensing data in
such form as the Secretary of State may require.
ZONING WITHIN A LICENSING AREA
10.40 A small number of licensing areas outside London are divided into zones for the
purposes of taxi licensing. A taxi licensed by such authorities is only permitted to
use ranks and accept hails within the designated zone, and not elsewhere in
within the licensing area. Such zones are the result of local authority
reorganisation. Most recently, a number of unitary authorities have been created,
some of which involved the amalgamation of districts.37 The powers of the former
district councils in respect of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing have
transferred to the new unitary authorities; however, because the licensing policies
and practices of the various district authorities differed, sometimes quite
markedly, the new local authority areas can comprise a number of taxi zones
based on the boundaries of the former district councils.38 This enables the status
quo to be maintained in each former district council area until such time as the
new authority decides how it wishes to organise its licensing functions in the
future. Where a council proposes to amalgamate zones, it can consult on the
policies that should newly apply across its entire area.
10.41 Zones within a licensing area can only be modified by removing them all at the
same time, and there is no ability to reinstate them or create new zones.
Furthermore, there are no provisions to allow for zones to be phased in or out;
nor to modify their boundaries.
10.42 Taxi licensing in London also makes use of zones, which are based upon the
licence conditions imposed on drivers by the London Cab Order 1934. London
taxi drivers either have an “All London” licence (known as a green badge) or a
“Suburban” licence (known as a yellow badge).39 The All London licence permits
the driver to work anywhere in London, including central London and Heathrow
Airport. Suburban taxi drivers can only accept hirings within their designated
36 The Law Commission is currently undertaking a project on data sharing between public
bodies. For the scoping consultation see Data Sharing Between Public Bodies (2013) Law
Commission Consultation Paper No 214.
37 Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.
38 For example, following the creation of the new Cheshire East and Cheshire West Councils,
Cheshire East decided to have three zones mirroring the former district council areas. See
http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/business/licensing/taxi_and_private_hire/hackney_carriage
_licence.aspx (last visited 19 May 2014).
39 London Cab Order 1934, para 27(1)(b) gives Transport for London the power to restrict a
licence by means of condition prohibiting the licensee from plying for hire in an area where
they have not shown themselves to have adequate knowledge. Drivers must complete the
full “Knowledge of London” to obtain an all London licence, but can alternatively choose to
undertake a less onerous knowledge test for one or more suburban areas.
141
sector; they can, however, be licensed in more than one sector.40
10.43 In our consultation paper we suggested a more flexible power for licensing
authorities to create and remove taxi zones anywhere within their area.41
Consultation
10.44 Again, a significant majority of respondents agreed with this proposal. In
general, those in favour noted the inflexibility of the current regime, which can
have unintended consequences. A number of stakeholders suggested that any
such power should be accompanied by a consultation requirement.
10.45 Unite the Union agreed with our proposal, noting that:
Currently licensing authorities cannot create but only remove.
For example in Durham they removed taxi zones and city centre
was flooded with taxis, with no taxi provision for the public anywhere
else. Therefore it is sensible to now give licensing authorities the
option to create as well.
10.46 Transport for London, which operates a significant zoning policy, although on a
different basis to unitary authorities, also agreed. It pointed to the types of
problems which could arise if the ability to maintain zones was lost.
Any removal of the ability to define taxi zones would likely result
in fewer drivers working in suburban areas as drivers are attracted
to the city centre “honey pot”, creating an imbalance of supply
and demand throughout London.
10.47 Cornwall Council gave us an interesting example of how this power might
be used in practice:
Cornwall Council consulted on whether it should amalgamate its
six taxi zones when it became a new unitary authority. This resulted
in the retention of the six taxi zones. Part of the consideration was
that once amalgamated the zones could never be re-instated.
Consultation responses also suggested creating different zones
within the County and may well have been considered if that
was permissible.
10.48 However, a number of stakeholders disagreed. This was primarily on the
basis that zones were restrictive. A number of those involved in the taxi industry
in Cornwall told us that zones restricted their ability to expand their
business, particularly where the zones also operated quantity restrictions. Others
told us that zones exacerbated the problems they experience with cross-border
hiring restrictions. Philip Routledge, a taxi operator in Cornwall, questioned how
40 We note that Transport for London has made proposals for significant change in suburban
taxi licensing. See Transport for London, Suburban Taxi Licensing Consultation (February
2014), available at https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/tph/suburbantaxis (last visited 19 May
2014). The consultation closed on 11 April 2014.
41 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 39.
142
eight zones could all operate different standards and yet be governed and
enforced by one licensing committee.
10.49 The London Taxi Company felt that taxi zones were simply an historical
hangover which no longer serve any purpose:
[This issue] is largely a legal anomaly caused by the unification of
areas and as such does not make sense other than as an
administrative compromise during the unification process. In most
cases it was envisaged that the zones would disappear and a
common taxi policy would emerge. As far as possible there should be
a common taxi standard throughout the areas as this is the only way
to ensure a standard service for all residents.
The London Taxi Company is aware of the fact that taxi services
in rural areas are usually only viable within the limits of the local town
or centre and as such that is where drivers congregate. Experience
has shown that zoning does not prevent this but rather
creates enforcement problems for local authorities. However, if
after consultation and engagement with the community it is found that
new zones are desired or it is felt old ones should be modified
then licensing authorities should be able to do so.
Discussion
10.50 We recognise that the current system of zoning is inflexible and liable to
cause difficulties. Although we received a number of responses from suburban
drivers in London who felt that they were treated unfairly and discriminatorily by
Transport for London, most remained generally supportive of the green and
yellow badge system. Furthermore, although some felt that their licence should
entitle them to ply for hire across the capital, we recognise that the additional
vehicles could not be sustained within the city centre, and that London would be
particularly susceptible to the “honeypot” effect.
10.51 On the other hand, zones can also have a considerable negative impact on
taxi services, and the Department for Transport’s Best Practice
Guidance recommends they be abolished on the basis that they are of little
benefit to the public, require much enforcement and lead to inefficiency and dead
mileage.42
10.52 On balance, we consider that zones can play a useful role in local taxi
regulation; however, they present very serious downsides that may not be
sufficiently addressed through general public law constraints on standard-setting.
We therefore suggest that the power to use zones should be subject to a public
interest test, on the same basis as we propose in respect of quantity
restrictions.43 This requires the local authority to take into account the interests of
consumers, provision for disabled passengers, the impact on congestion and the
environment, and the sustainability of the industry. We discuss the elements of
42 Department for Transport, Taxi and Private hire vehicle licensing: best practice
guidance (2010) para 90.
43 See Chapter 11 below.
143
this public interest test in the next chapter. This reflects the fact that zoning
appears to be most sensibly used in conjunction with quantity restrictions, as a
tool to encourage provision in outlying areas. For example, an authority may want
to introduce a taxi zone with quantity restrictions covering their city centre, but to
leave the more rural areas of their district without zones or quantity restrictions.
This allows a more nuanced approach to what could otherwise be a restrictive
policy.
Recommendation 57
Licensing authorities should have a more flexible power
to introduce and remove taxi licensing zones. This power would
permit removal or introduction of zones within a licensing
district. The power should be subject to consultation and a
statutory public interest test.
10.53 This recommendation is given effect by clause 7 of our draft Bill.
144
CHAPTER 11
QUANTITY RESTRICTIONS
INTRODUCTION
11.1 Local authorities in England and Wales currently have the power to restrict the
number of taxis licensed in their area.1
This power can only be exercised where it
can be shown that there is no significant unmet demand for taxis in the area.2
There is, however, no power to limit the number of taxis working in London.3
In
the consultation paper we referred to such limits as quantity restrictions, and we
continue to do so.
11.2 The number of quantity restricted areas has been stable in recent years. Since
2011, seven areas have removed restrictions and seven areas have introduced
them.4

11.3 Although fewer than a third of all licensing authorities adopt quantity restrictions,5
these areas include almost all of England and Wales’s major cities (including
Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle
and Sheffield, for example).
11.4 Stakeholders have pointed to the negative experiences of several licensing
authorities which removed quantity controls, and then decided to re-introduce
them, as evidence that derestriction does not work. Areas where quantity
restrictions have been reintroduced following derestriction include Chesterfield,
Watford, Welwyn Hatfield and the Wirral.
11.5 Local authorities’ current power to control taxi numbers is qualified: quantity
restrictions can only be maintained if the relevant licensing authority is satisfied
that there is no significant demand for taxis services which is unmet.6
Best
practice guidance by the Department for Transport advises against the use of
quantity restrictions and urges authorities to reconsider such policies on a regular
1
Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 37.
2
Town Police Clauses Act 1847 as modified by Transport Act 1985, s 16.
3
Although London has no limits on taxi vehicle numbers, the general view is that the
stringent knowledge tests imposed on London taxi drivers, together with the high cost of
purchasing a vehicle which satisfies the London Conditions of Fitness, together constitute
a significant barrier to entry to the market. In addition, Transport for London has set
licensing policies which directly relate to the control of taxi numbers. For example, in 2011,
Transport for London gave notice that it would no longer process new applications for
suburban licenses in some areas due to significant increases in numbers and long waiting
lists for licences (see https://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/13-11-suburbantaxi-driver-licence-applications.pdf (last visited 16 May 2014)).
4
Department for Transport, Taxi and Private Hire Statistics 2013, at
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/226355/taxiprivate-hire-statistics-2013.pdf (last visited 19 May 2014).
5
88 of 313 licensing areas at the time of the National Private Hire Association’s 2014
survey.
6
A requirement introduced by s 16 of the Transport Act 1985.
145
basis.7

11.6 Considering the drawbacks which might be predicted to flow from quantity
restrictions, which could include fewer taxis, longer waiting periods for the public,
and restricted access to the trade for prospective taxi drivers, in our consultation
paper we provisionally proposed abolishing the power to impose quantity
restrictions on taxis.8
We suggested that entry into the industry should depend on
standards-based criteria with appropriate quality controls rather than the blunt
tool of numerical caps. We also asked consultees what problems, temporary or
permanent, might arise from abolishing quantity restrictions.
11.7 This provisional proposal generated a great number of consultation responses,
and the most concern among the trades during consultation meetings. Overall we
received about 1500 responses on this topic; the vast majority disagreed with
lifting restrictions.
11.8 We noted in our consultation paper that the economic literature is generally
hostile to quantity controls.9 The economic arguments are, broadly speaking, that
the free market is the best means of determining the necessary level of taxi
provision; that unmet demand surveys may not be capable of registering the true
level of demand, both patent and latent; that quantity restrictions may have a
negative effect on waiting times and fares; and that they are a blunt instrument
for controlling entry to the market.10
11.9 On the other hand, it was impressed upon us during consultation that economic
models, albeit diverse and sophisticated,11 are not reliable in predicting the effect
of removing quantity controls in the field. The explanation may be that particular
features of this highly regulated market distort the normal effect of competitive
forces.
7
See Department for Transport, Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Best Practice Guidance
(March 2010) paras 45 – 51.
8
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 54.
9
See A T Moore and T Balaker’s review in “Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Taxi
Deregulation?” (January 2006) 3(1) Econ Journal Watch pp 117 to 118: of the 28 articles
reviewed, 19 conclude that deregulation is beneficial (on net), two conclude that the results
are mixed, seven conclude that the net effects of deregulation are harmful; Katrina
Wyman, “Problematic Private Property: The Case of New York Taxicab Medallions”,
Volume 30 Yale Journal on Regulation, 125; OECD policy roundtable, Taxi services:
competition and regulation (2007) p 37. For a contrasting view, see Roger F Teal and Mary
Berglund “The Impacts of Taxicab Deregulation in the USA” (1987) 21(1) Journal of
Transport Economics and Policy, p 37 to 56.
10 For further developments on the benefits derived from deregulation, see M W Frankena,
and P A Pautler, An Economic Analysis of Taxicab Regulation (1984). Benefits are broadly
expected to be as follows: lower fares, as a result of an increased number of operators;
lower operating costs, due to competitive incentives; improved service quality, as
competition puts the stress on reputation; innovations and special services for the
disabled; and increased demand for taxi services, as prices fall and quality improves.
11 For a review of such models, from the first studies in the early 1970s to the more recent
models able to simulate congestion, elasticity of demand, different user classes, external
congestion, non linear costs and different market configurations, J M Salanova “A review of
modelling of taxi services” (2011) p 152, at
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811014005 (last visited 19 May
2014).
146
11.10 This chapter is split into two main sections. The first considers the merits of and
justifications for quantity controls as a barrier to entry into the taxi industry.
The second looks at the values which licence plates acquire in areas
with quantity restrictions, and how these should be managed within the
regulatory system. Whilst these two aspects are connected and overlap, they
also raise very different policy problems and we discuss each in turn.12
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF REMOVING QUANTITY RESTRICTIONS
11.11 Although the overwhelming majority of respondents to our consultation did not
support the removal of quantity restrictions, a small number of respondents did.
One taxi driver in Cornwall argued that it would allow him to expand his business
into neighbouring zones which are subject to quantity restrictions. Others
objected to quantity restrictions on the basis that they have given rise to a trade
in taxi plates. Taxi plates in quantity-restricted areas can be very expensive when
traded privately, and act as a considerable barrier to entry to working as a taxi
driver. We give separate consideration to this issue below.13
11.12 Private hire drivers who responded to the consultation tended to be in favour of
the removal of quantity restrictions, as this would give them the opportunity to
acquire a taxi vehicle licence, giving them increased flexibility in their work. On
the other hand, operators expressed concern that opening up the taxi market
would loosen the control they have over private hire drivers. For example, a
driver on their circuit who had obtained a taxi licence would be able to pick up a
hail or a job from a rank, disrupting his presence on the circuit. Taxi radio circuits
suffer from this problem and they have told us that their survival depends on
access to very high driver numbers, usually in the thousands. Clearly, few private
hire operators would be capable of sustaining this.
11.13 The majority of local authorities responding to our consultation paper were
in favour of the removal of quantity restrictions and of the power to impose them.
This included many authorities which currently operate restrictions, generally
on the basis that the mechanisms for deciding whether to introduce or
maintain quantity restrictions were susceptible to bias, lack of transparency and
too much influence from incumbents. Indeed, some licensing officers in
authorities which do not have a numerical limit told us that they would like to see
the power removed in order to prevent pressure from the trade to impose a limit.
There was a clear preference for retaining quantity restrictions amongst licensing
authorities in more urban areas.
11.14 Would-be entrants into the taxi and private hire markets are another group
significantly affected by quantity restrictions who, like consumers, do not have a
strong voice. We heard from a number of private hire and taxi drivers who would
like to apply for taxi vehicle licences, but who are unable or have difficulty in
affording to do so in their preferred area or would have difficulty in affording it. We
12 We note that private hire vehicles are not currently subject to numerical regulation.
A number of responses have suggested that they should be. The relationship between
taxi and private hire numbers is indeed significant, and an important consideration in
policy development. However there was no significant body of opinion advocating this
course of action; nor are pre-booked only vehicles subject to numerical caps abroad. We
have not pursued this option further.
13 See from paragraph 11.93 below.
147
think it safe to assume that a number of people would be interested in joining the
taxi trade as a vehicle owner if it were made possible by derestriction.
11.15 Taxi drivers unable to acquire their own vehicle licences in areas where quantity
restrictions are in place complained of feeling exploited. One taxi driver in the
South West told us that the shifts he was able to get did not allow him to make a
sufficient living, the rent he paid for the vehicle was in the region of £200 per
month, and he was expected to take responsibility for upkeep and maintenance.
Although owning a licensed taxi would not necessarily reduce any of those costs,
it would at least give him greater economic freedom.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST REMOVING QUANTITY RESTRICTIONS
11.16 In our consultation paper we asked stakeholders what problems, temporary or
permanent, might arise if licensing authorities lost the ability to restrict numbers.14
We consider below the key themes emerging from stakeholders that opposed the
removal of quantity restrictions.
Impact on taxi licence holders
11.17 Current taxi plate holders in restricted areas told us they would be severely
affected by the removal of quantity restrictions. Increased taxi numbers means
increased competition for work, so that each individual driver has a thinner slice
of the travelling public’s spend. The economic downturn in recent years has had
a similar effect. One consequence has been that, whilst customer waiting times
for a cab have fallen, driver waiting times (the time between jobs) have risen,
leading to an overall decrease in productive efficiency in the industry.15
11.18 One taxi driver in Manchester (which maintains quantity restrictions) told us:
I currently sit for approximately one hour between fares. I generally
work around a sixty hour week. In the last three years our fleet
has increased by around 120 cabs. My takings have significantly
dropped causing me huge financial difficulties and I now evermore
rely on tax credits to survive. My working hours put strain on my
family life.
11.19 This is representative of a large number of responses we received, some
of which told us that a number of taxi drivers now rely on the welfare state
to supplement their income.
11.20 Many stakeholders cited the example of Ireland, which deregulated taxi numbers
in 2000. Many within the industry experienced severe financial hardship, with
licence holders losing out both in terms of licence value and revenue.16
Customers also experienced a significant drop in standards. The severe impact
deregulation had in Ireland was in many ways due to the unmanaged removal of
14 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
paper No 203, question 55.
15 See Europe Economics, Evaluating the impact of the taxis market study, a report for the
OfT (October 2007) OFT 956.
16 S D Barrett, “The Sustained Impacts of Taxi Deregulation” (March 2010) 30
Economic Affairs 61.
148
quantity restrictions, along with inadequate standards. However, a significant
increase in vehicle numbers could still have a negative impact on the existing taxi
trade, which is already struggling in some areas.
Impact on the public generally
11.21 Policy must also take into account the effect on the public at large (including nontaxi users) through congestion and air and noise pollution, for example. When the
Wirral derestricted vehicle numbers in 2002, the impact on residents in terms of
lower standards and the presence of more vehicles on the streets was felt so
strongly that a campaign group was set up specifically to tackle this issue. Taxi
number limits were restored in 2012.
11.22 On the other hand, limiting taxi numbers carries the risk of creating unmet
demand, since even under the current law licensing authorities may not gauge
demand accurately. There can be hidden unmet demand, where potential taxi
users do not even attempt to use taxis because of past experiences of insufficient
availability. The general public have very little representation, both in our
consultation and in local licensing decisions more generally. This is therefore a
very difficult risk to quantify.
Safety concerns
11.23 A large number of stakeholders were concerned that in a derestricted market
drivers would not make enough money to maintain their vehicles properly, and
the incentive to invest in new vehicles would be reduced. Almost all of the taxi
drivers and owners who responded on this question held this view, as well as
a number of local authorities, including Birmingham City Council and the licensing
committee of Scarborough Borough Council. The National Association of
Licensing Enforcement Officers also took this view:
As can be seen, for example in Dublin, deregulation can lead to too
many cabs chasing too few fares and a possible danger from this
could be a lessening of vehicle maintenance standards as drivers,
due to economic pressure, could cut corners.
11.24 Other stakeholders stressed that if drivers felt it necessary to work longer hours
or have second jobs this too would threaten safety standards. This concern often
ranked first in the list of concerns relating to deregulation of taxis. For example,
the union GMB said that:
The driver needs to work in an economic climate that allows the
drivers to earn an income which allows for very high standards of
maintenance and a working week that does not consist of 70 to 80
hours. Therefore to ensure customer safety local authorities must be
allowed to restrict the number of taxi numbers in a controlled
economy if they so choose.
11.25 Watford is said to have experienced such issues when it removed the limit on taxi
numbers. Vehicle owners often have a significant investment in the market, which
means they are reluctant or even unable to leave it; a fall in income may lead to
reductions in safety and quality. Driver hours are a matter of significant concern.
Although we have heard of long and often dangerous driver hours in both
149
numerically limited and unlimited areas, the argument that when faced with
greater competition and lower earnings drivers will simply work longer hours
clearly has force.
11.26 Unite the Union described the detrimental impact of the removal (subsequently
reversed) of a numerical limit in the Wirral:
It is however the shift pattern at the weekend that causes the most
concern, in that drivers will usually start at 8am Friday, but work
through to 4-5am Saturday morning. With the Saturday shift pattern
being more of the same, except the drivers will usually start around
midday and work until 5am Sunday morning. …
We take the view that these suicidal long shift patterns are the
“negative externalities” (to continue with the economic jargon) of
removing numerical control, and it is difficult to make a case that it
benefits the consumer.
11.27 More generally, it seems, a key element to securing quality standards is providing
sufficient incentives for drivers to maintain them. Ensuring some level of financial
security can assist in maintaining standards.
Congestion and over-ranking
11.28 Many local authorities, particularly those responsible for urban areas, seem to
suffer from limited rank space. During consultation we received much evidence of
over-ranking: where taxis queue for access to the rank in such a way that they
overhang the rank, often causing congestion and obstruction to the highway. We
were taken on tours of city centres to see examples of this at first hand. Overranking is a problem which arises both in restricted and unrestricted areas.17 It
may, however, worsen if quantity restrictions are removed. An increase in the
number of vehicles at ranks may even exceed the global increase in the number
of vehicles; this is because where taxi drivers need to work longer to secure the
same level of earnings, it can be a more economical option for taxi drivers to wait
at taxi ranks rather than driving around, which uses more fuel.18
11.29 A large number of consultees used the term “free-for-all” to describe the impact of
derestriction. Some consultees also pointed to noise pollution caused by overranking. Numerous stakeholders referred to the recent experience of Durham
County Council, which removed both quantity restrictions and zones at the same
time and is currently said to suffer from extreme problems of over-ranking and
congestion. Unite the Union described the Liverpool experience as follows:
Liverpool took the decision to remove the numerical limit on taxis in
1974… . However by 1983 over ranking had become a serious traffic
and public order issue, which led to the then Chief Constable, Sir
Kenneth Oxford, in his annual address to Liverpool City Council to
articulate his frustrations about the amount of police resources that
17 For the same reason, taxi numbers at airport ranks are typically limited.
150
were being used to combat the problem.
He stated that relations between the police and the taxi trade was
fractious, and commented that many of the issues “are a result of too
many taxis seeking to stand on any one rank at the same time”. Sir
Kenneth concluded “One cannot escape the fact that there are
currently over 1,250 licensed hackney carriages in Liverpool (the
figure is now 1,417), for which there are only 370 spaces available on
designated ranks. It is equally apparent that no matter what level of
enforcement is pursued, the problems associated with over-ranking
will remain until such time as this imbalance is redressed.”
The Chief Constable of Merseyside’s report to Liverpool City Council
is seen by many as the reason that in passing the Transport Act in
1985, the government of the day stopped short of outright abolition of
numerical controls on taxis.
11.30 The Meeting of Minds group19 commissioned a report on quantity restrictions as
part of their response to our consultation. The report was in favour of retaining
quantity restrictions on the basis of available road space. The report noted that in
Cambridge, which removed quantity restrictions, overuse of the central rank has
led to consideration of removing it due to the negative effect on pedestrians,
cyclists and buses. There was concern that creating feeder ranks20 could worsen
the problem by attracting more vehicles to the industry. The report indicated that
Cambridge City Council is considering reintroducing quantity restriction, which
the authors of the report believed would be beneficial, especially as changing
ranking arrangements would take some time.
Environmental impact
11.31 A related concern is that of congestion and pollution associated with taxis
searching for hail work. This is an area in which there is a lack of economic
studies looking at the impact of deregulation.21 Taxis tend to circulate, adding to
traffic levels and impacting on air quality. This is a particular concern
since licensing authorities are under a duty to meet environmental targets to
18 J M Salanova “A review of modelling of taxi services” (2011) p 151, at
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811014005 (last visited 19 May
2014).
19 This group comprises a number of stakeholders from both the taxi and private hire
industries. It was established by the National Association of Licensing Enforcement
Officers.
20 Areas with capacity for overflow vehicles, which are generally situated away from busy
areas and main ranks, but provide a queuing system for the ranks themselves.
21 See J M Salanova “A review of modelling of taxi services” (2011) p 160, at
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811014005 (last visited 19 May
2014).
151
decrease pollution.22 Mike Middleton, a taxi driver from Blackpool, believed that
derestriction would lead to a significant increase in emissions, with large numbers
of private hire vehicles becoming taxis and switching to plying for hire.
11.32 The Bournemouth taxi and private hire trade provided us with
calculations indicating that a derestricted local taxi trade (which they believed
would amount to 749 vehicles, 500 more than at present) would account for 13%
of emissions in Bournemouth.23 Trafford Green Party raised similar concerns
about deregulation in their area.
11.33 On the other hand, some stakeholders have also argued that restricting
vehicle numbers may not have the effect of reducing pollution.24 Reduced taxi
availability may encourage greater use of private cars, and thus ultimately do
greater harm to environmental goals. Furthermore, it has been argued that if a
public authority truly wishes to take action to reduce environmental harm, this
should apply to all vehicles.25 Indeed taxis currently enjoy exemptions from some
environmental requirements, such as the congestion charge in London. However,
limiting the number of taxis may still be useful and possibly the easiest vehicle
emissions reduction measure to implement.
Impact on enforcement
11.34 Maintaining quantity restrictions can reduce enforcement costs to the extent that
it reduces the number of licensed vehicles which have to be monitored. In
addition, the high value of the licence usually associated with quantity restricted
areas may go some way towards ensuring compliance by the licence holders, as
the suspension or revocation of such a valuable asset would be a severe
penalty.26 Conversely, quantity restrictions may increase enforcement costs to
the extent that they lead to more use of unlicensed vehicles as taxis.
11.35 The impact of derestriction on the number of unlicensed vehicles illegally offering
22 See for example, London, and the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy, discussed in Chapter
5. See also the three main European Directives in respect of emissions: Directive
2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe; Directive 2004/107/EC
relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in
ambient air ; and Directive 2001/81/EC on national emission ceilings for certain
atmospheric pollutants. The Environment Act 1995, s 82 and Local Air Quality
Management (LAQM) implement these duties.
23 Contrast however a report we cited in our consultation impact assessment, which
suggested the increase would only be 1%, see Impact Assessment Reforming Taxi and
Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Impact Assessment 0016.
24 See also Office of Fair Trading, The regulation of licensed taxi and private hire vehicle
services in the UK (November 2003) para 4.73.
25 See Katrina Wyman, “Problematic Private Property: The Case of New York Taxicab
Medallions” in Volume 30 Yale Journal on Regulation, p 125 fn 126.
26 For a presentation of such arguments, see Katrina Wyman, “Problematic Private Property:
The Case of New York Taxicab Medallions” forthcoming in Volume 30 Yale Journal on
Regulation, 125, at p 129 to 130; see also S Rosenbloom (1985) “The Taxi in the Urban
Transport System” in Urban Transit, ed C A Lave San Francisco: Pacific Institute for Public
Policy Research, pp 181 to 213.
152
taxi services is particularly difficult to assess.27 Though there is evidence in the
literature that a quantity-restricted market is more expensive to regulate,28 we
have not been able to reach a conclusion on whether that would be the case in
England and Wales.
11.36 There are also issues about the effectiveness of enforcement. Many stakeholders
feared that enforcement action would need to be strengthened further following
deregulation, to cope with an increased number of licensees and greater
congestion. To the extent (which we cannot gauge) that derestriction created an
unmet need for more enforcement, the reliability of enforcement as a means of
ensuring quality could be called into question.
11.37 We note that some foreign jurisdictions have counter-balanced the greater size of
derestricted taxi fleets by introducing an extra regulatory tier, requiring taxi drivers
to be affiliated with intermediate organisations and making these organisations
liable for any infringements. Such a model has been applied, for example, in New
Zealand and Singapore.
EVIDENCE OF THE IMPACT OF DERESTRICTION ON VEHICLE NUMBERS
11.38 An important issue associated with the removal of quantity restrictions is the
impact such a decision might have on licensed vehicle numbers.
11.39 Many stakeholders believed that derestriction would open the floodgates to the
use of hundreds of new vehicles, bringing with it numerous associated problems
such as congestion. Whilst it is to be expected that areas which currently operate
quantity restrictions would see an increase in the number of vehicles,29 there is
evidence to suggest that this may not be as great or as long-lasting as some
stakeholders believe. Such outcomes are reported in economic literature.30
11.40 The number of vehicles may tend to decrease again over time as the supply
progressively adjusts to demand. Aylesbury District Council and Ribble Valley
Borough Council both expected that there would be a temporary rush for licences
but that this would die down.
11.41 There is evidence from a number of areas which have deregulated in recent
years that the number of vehicles in the overall taxi and private hire fleet does not
27 See A T Moore and T Balaker in “Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Taxi
Deregulation?” (January 2006) 3(1) Econ Journal Watch p 116, arguing that “with
deregulation, large numbers of cabs suddenly enter the legitimate market, so we
should expect the absolute number of complaints to increase. One would expect it to take
some time for these taxis to bring themselves into compliance with safety and insurance
codes”. However, evidence from consultation does not suggest removal of quantity
restrictions reduces the number of taxis operating unlicensed. This may be because, while
some of them may have taken advantage of derestriction to regularise their situation, not
all of them would meet the entry requirements.
28 See M W Frankena, and P A Pautler, An Economic Analysis of Taxicab Regulation.
Federal Trade Commission (1984), pointing to costs savings following deregulation.
29 See for example Office of Fair Trading, The Regulation of licensed taxi and private hire
vehicle services in the UK (November 2003) – in particular chapter 4.
153
increase significantly. We were told this by licensing officers from Ipswich
and Exeter. This is because many of the new taxi plates are taken up by existing
private hire vehicle licence holders. For example, Cardiff derestricted in 2005,
and saw taxi numbers rise from 481 to 702 in 2007 and private hire vehicle
numbers drop from 999 to 783. Derestriction thus resulted in only five more
licensed vehicles on the road at the end of that period, albeit nearly a 50%
increase in taxi numbers. In Bristol, following derestriction, the number of taxi
licences increased by 150%, whilst the size of the overall fleet only increased by
4%. Similarly, Cambridge and Sheffield saw virtually no change in the number of
licensed vehicles following derestriction.31
11.42 A relevant factor here is the level of supply prior to derestriction; according to
economic literature, where it is close to the level of demand, the increase in the
number of vehicles will be moderate.32 Mid-Sussex District Council told us that
their latest unmet demand survey showed that the local limit was in fact set too
high, and they doubted that more taxis would enter the market if the limit was
removed.
11.43 A number of local authorities predicted that derestriction in their area would give
rise to a short-term rise in numbers which could be smoothed out by the
application of increased quality standards; these included Ceredigion County
Council, Northampton Borough Council and Pembrokeshire Council.
11.44 The effects of a rise in taxi numbers are both mixed and difficult to predict. While
a shift from private hire to taxi licences may benefit customers in that taxis can be
hailed in the street and hired at taxi ranks as well as booked by telephone,
increased taxi numbers may have an adverse impact in terms of congestion and
pollution, given the way in which taxis work: for example, driving around looking
for business, or keeping the engine running whilst at a rank.
11.45 A rise in numbers may have either a positive or negative effect on availability.
Whilst in general terms more vehicles would suggest greater availability, that may
not be the case during unsocial hours and in more out of the way locations, if new
entrants ”cherry pick” the most popular hours and areas.
11.46 We received evidence that certain licensing authorities used standard-setting as
a proxy for limiting numbers, deliberately setting them at a level which would limit
supply. Not only does this allow the licensing authority to limit or prevent the
floodgates effect, but it is also a means of ensuring a high-quality taxi fleet with
appropriately committed licence holders. This is said to have been the case in
Ipswich, where deregulation was accompanied by new standards requiring all
vehicles to be wheelchair-accessible and no more than four years old. In the
30 See A T Moore and T Balaker, “Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Taxi
Deregulation?” (January 2006) 3(1) Econ Journal Watch p 112, referring to varying
outcomes of derestriction.
31 Office of Fair Trading, The regulation of licensed taxi and private hire vehicle services in
the UK (November 2003) para 4.20.
32 See J M Salanova “A review of modelling of taxi services” (2011) p 158, at
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811014005 (last visited 16 May
2014).
154
seven years since deregulation, we were told, there has been just one additional
taxi, but a far greater number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
11.47 It is difficult to make an objective assessment of the impacts of derestriction.
First, crucial data, on fares or waiting times for example, are often
lacking. Assessments of the success or otherwise of such an intervention may
differ at different points in time, as the short-term and long-term effects of
derestriction may be different. There are also wide-ranging differences in the
parameters for gauging success, depending on the focus (customer waiting times
or taxi drivers’ remuneration, for example), selection of the parameters and the
weight attached to them are both highly subjective matters. Assessments of the
same deregulation experiences may as a result be very different, depending on
the observer’s perspective.33 Different observers attach different weight to the
same outcomes.34
UNCERTAIN GAINS OF DERESTRICTION
11.48 When considering the taxi and private hire industries, consumer interests tend
to be diffuse and less organised than the trades or regulators. Most of the taxi
user responses we received related to accessibility and equality issues, although
some stakeholders also provided more general consumer feedback.35 Thus we
have looked at economic evidence and models alongside the wealth of
information we received during consultation.
11.49 We have taken the principal consumer gains that might be predicted to derive
from derestriction to be improved taxi availability (with shorter waiting times), and
cheaper fares. We consider each element below.
Waiting times and vehicle availability
11.50 Economists predict that waiting times would be reduced if there were
more vehicles available.36 Behavioural studies of taxi drivers,37 and an abundance
33 See for example the generally positive assessment made by Katrina Wyman of
derestriction in Ireland in “Problematic Private Property: The Case of New York Taxicab
Medallions” in Volume 30 Yale Journal on Regulation 125, fn 121, in contrast to a more
critical assessment in e.g. LHM Casey McGrath Critical Evaluation and Review of the
“Economic Review of the Small Public Service Vehicle Industry” prepared by Goodbody
Economic Consultants (2009) at http://www.taxi-library.org/goodbody-report-critique.pdf.
34 Considering the conflicting results of deregulation policies, A T Moore and T Balaker
acknowledge in “Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Taxi Deregulation?” (January
2006) 3(1) Econ Journal Watch p 113 that “the devil is in the details of implementing
deregulation and in what is measured to define success”.
35 For example, responses received from the National Association of Taxi Users and the
Passenger Transport Board.
36 Office of Fair Trading, The regulation of licensed taxi and private hire vehicle services
in the UK (November 2003), pp 24 to 29.
37 Katrina Wyman, “Problematic Private Property: The Case of New York Taxicab
Medallions” forthcoming in Volume 30 Yale Journal on Regulation, 125 at fn 121; C
Camerer et al, “Labor supply of New York City cab drivers: one day at a time”, in D
Kahneman and A Tversky (eds), Choices, Values and Frames (2000) pp 356 to 370; J
Rowson and J Young, “Inside the Mind of a Cabbie” (2011).
155
of anecdotal evidence during consultation,38 suggest they do not behave as
predicted by economic theories. In addition, the workforce is largely
uncoordinated and independent, and drivers are very resistant to change in
working patterns. This suggests that increased taxi numbers could result in more
taxis at times and in places where demand is already relatively well served but
little improvement elsewhere, such as at night or in more suburban areas. The
effect of deregulation may therefore not be uniform.39
11.51 The National Association of Licensing Enforcement Officers warned that uneven
supply of taxi services could persist after derestriction:
Just by removing quantity control will not guarantee provision at times
of need (neither will additional higher tariffs). This can be seen from
London where plates are not limited.
11.52 Further, stakeholders commonly argued that quantity restrictions contribute to
better and more efficient provision, particularly at night, through encouraging
double-shifting – the use of a taxi by more than one driver, for example where one
driver covers normal daytime hours while the other works night shifts and
weekends. This increases the usage rates of individual vehicles and makes them
work more efficiently. If each driver had access to a different vehicle, they might
both concentrate their working hours into the daytime. For example, during the
derestricted period in the Wirral, it was reported to us, the lack of double-shifting
led to unmet demand appearing in areas where there had previously been none.
11.53 Unite the Union gave the following explanations:
In areas with restricted taxi numbers, it is commonplace to have a taxi
double shifted, for instance in cities such as Liverpool and
Manchester, and even in smaller areas ie Ellesmere Port, Knowsley
etc, approximately 70% of the taxi fleet is double-shifted; this has two
main benefits for the travelling public; it gives taxi coverage 24/7, and
the driver has shorter shift patterns. Wirral also had 70% double-shift
prior to the increase in licences, and it is now between 2-4%. When
WBC took the decision to remove numerical controls, most of the
“jockeys” applied for a licence and very rapidly the double-shift
system was abandoned, and drivers began to “cherry pick” the most
lucrative hours to work [namely 8am-8/10pm from Monday to Friday,
with longer hours at weekend].
11.54 One respondent to the survey organised by the Private Hire and Taxi
Monthly magazine told us that two drivers work his vehicle, ensuring that it is
available at all times, but that there would not be enough work if quantity
restrictions were lifted in his area. Liverpool City Council felt that double-shifting
gave them a good level of provision to service their night economy, although
38 For example, the London Taxi Drivers Association told us that Tariff 3 in London,
rather than encouraging drivers to work later, simply had the effect that they met their
personal target for earnings more quickly and finished work earlier than before. The rate
increase therefore had the opposite effect to that intended, reducing availability later at
night.
39 J T Bekken and F Longva, Institute of Transport Economics, Trends in Taxi Regulation
(2004) p 9. See in particular the deregulation experiences in Sweden and New Zealand.
156
private hire drivers in Liverpool felt that there was unmet demand at night. We
were also told that when Watford deregulated taxi numbers it suffered a decrease
in double-shifting and consequently provision at night. On the other hand, where
there are fewer vehicles consumers may be faced with longer waiting times,
which would be a community loss but one which is harder to quantify.
Fares
11.55 Fares are another area in which practice does not appear to match economic
theory. Economists predict that fares should become lower if there are
more vehicles available.40 The prediction is not borne out either by comparisons
of fares across licensing authorities or by comparisons of fare levels before and
after derestriction. Though the comparisons relate to maximum fare levels set by
licensing authorities rather than realised prices generated by price competition,
there are nevertheless some indications, as we explain below, of an association
between derestriction and higher fares.41
11.56 The National Private Hire Association collects data about the taxi tariffs applied
by the different licensing authorities across England and Wales, and regularly
publishes national taxi fare tables.42 It provides statistics determining the national
average, as well as monitoring fare rises since 2002. These suggest that fare
levels in quantity-restricted areas are not higher than in unrestricted areas;
indeed, many are lower.43
11.57 Even where licensing authorities have removed quantity restrictions, fares have
not reduced: since 1999 only two authorities have reduced their taxi fares,44
though a larger number have derestricted. However, removal of quantity
restrictions has been observed to have the opposite effect, making taxi fares
more expensive: the Office of Fair Trading’s 2003 report, which had
recommended the removal of quantity restrictions, noted nevertheless that taxi
fares in derestricted areas increased at a higher rate than in areas where quantity
restrictions were still in place.45
11.58 A plausible explanation of why removal of quantity restrictions is associated with
higher fares appears to be that, with less work to go around between a larger
number of drivers, the pressure to earn more for each job is greater. This leads to
40 Office of Fair Trading, The regulation of licensed taxi and private hire vehicle services in
the UK (November 2003) pp 24 to 29.
41 Our experience is that drivers generally apply the maximum permitted fare rate, although
discounting does occur.
42 See http://www.phtm.co.uk/newspaper/digital-edition (last visited 19 May 2014).
43 See http://www.phtm.co.uk/newspaper/digital-edition (last visited 19 May 2014), pp 26 to
27.
44 Hart District Council and Medway Council in 2013: Private Hire and Taxi Monthly, issue
246, March 2013, p 67.
45 A sample of 30 restricted and 30 derestricted authorities had been studied using the
December 2000 edition of Private Hire and Taxi Monthly. The results showed that
between 1999 and 2002, taxi fares had increased by an average of 21.8% in restricted
areas; but by 24.3% in areas that had removed quantity restrictions. See the Office of
Fair Trading, The Regulation of Licensed Taxi and private hire vehicle services in the UK
(November 2003), Annex D, para 4.29,
http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/reports/comp_policy/oft676.pdf (last visited 16 May 2014).
157
pressure on licensing authorities to raise the regulated fare. We were told by
licensing officers at a large northern authority that pressure for higher fares was
much more intense during a period of derestriction.
Conclusion
11.59 We take the view that we should not propose a change to the existing legal
position unless we are satisfied that it will yield an improvement. We are not
satisfied of this in the light of apparent empirical evidence to the contrary.
11.60 In summary, evidence from consultation suggests that we cannot be confident
that removing quantity restrictions would bring significant consumer benefit.
DERESTRICTION ABROAD
11.61 During consultation we conducted additional research regarding
foreign jurisdictions and their experience of derestriction. Overall, we found no
consensus. Whilst many of the problems affecting the taxi trade are the same
across different jurisdictions, differences between regulatory systems mean that
comparisons need to be treated with caution.
11.62 In New Zealand, improvements in taxi availability and reduced passenger waiting
times in cities were matched with a diminution in the supply to rural areas
because taxi drivers tend to concentrate in places of highest demand in the
absence of licensing zones.46
11.63 Reported experience in the Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand also
suggests that new entrants tend to concentrate in already well-served places,
such as airports, and that quality standards can be an issue in derestricted taxi
markets. Issues typically include poor geographical knowledge and language
skills, abusive behaviour towards customers and refusals of short fares. New sets
of standards,47 including new codes of conduct,48 revised sanctions and
complaints handling49 have usually accompanied or followed any deregulation.
Declining quality standards seem to reflect an enforcement problem as numbers
grow.
11.64 Overall, the picture of the deregulated landscape is very mixed and includes:
improved waiting times, at least in some urban areas, owing to an increased
number of taxis in the streets; a broader variety of vehicles and range of services
46 J T Bekken and F Longva, Institute of Transport Economics, Trends in Taxi Regulation
(2004) p 9.
47 The Singapore Land Transport Authority introduced a revised framework governing
the conduct of taxi drivers (known as the Vocational Licence Points System) in 2003. It
spells out to taxi drivers the offences, fines, demerit points and guidelines for suspending
or revoking a taxi vocational licence. See the Land Transport Agency’s
website: http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/public-transport/taxis/industry-matters-fortaxi-drivers.html (last visited 16 May 2014).
48 In the Northern Territory of Australia, a Code of Conduct was approved in 2001 in order
to set minimum standards of customer service. Breaches may result in fines (up to
$2,000) and possible restrictions of the taxi operation.
49 In Singapore, companies who wish to operate a taxi service are subject to
stringent conditions. The operating rules of the company, which must be approved by the
Land Transport Authority, have to include a complaints procedure.
158
offered, but also rising fares, increased congestion and over-ranking; issues
relating to the ability of taxi drivers to maintain, and for the public authorities to
enforce, quality standards; longer working hours for drivers leading potentially to
unsafe working, and concerns about taxi drivers’ remuneration. In
short, comparative studies suggest no clear answer to the question of quantity
restrictions.
A DECISION TO BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF LOCAL CIRCUMSTANCES
11.65 We have acknowledged the importance of local decision-making in respect of
taxis; and the trades have argued that numbers regulation falls squarely within
that local remit. We see merit in this argument. It is also telling that those areas
which maintain quantity restrictions tend to be cities and larger towns, which
stand to suffer more seriously from problems of congestion, over-ranking and
detrimental environmental impact.
11.66 The argument for local decision-making was made forcefully by a number of
stakeholders. The Leicester and Rutland branch of the RMT argued that:
Licensing authorities are ones which know the local area and
plan their transport, so they will know their exact requirements and
by correct consultations with trade unions should be able to
revise numbers without causing problems to people’s investment
and livelihood.
11.67 North Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association added that:
The Local Authority must retain the ability to limit numbers of taxi
(hackney carriage) licences it issues as it is best aware of
local circumstances and needs for the licensing district.
11.68 The behaviour of those licensing authorities that decided to reintroduce quantity
controls after derestriction is evidence that the power is regarded as useful by
regulators.50
CONCLUSION ON QUANTITY RESTRICTIONS
11.69 We have noted the strong view put forward during consultation that
quantity restrictions can have a positive role to play within the taxi licensing
framework and have found a lack of empirical evidence of the benefits of
derestriction.
11.70 Our initial view was that derestriction would be likely to provide the most efficient
use of resources by enabling the market to determine supply and demand.
However, having listened to the responses to our consultation, we recognise that
some limitation on taxi licence numbers may, in some areas, be desirable.
50 These include Birmingham, Chesterfield, Copeland, Derbyshire, Fylde, North East
Lincolnshire, Sheffield, Slough, West Berkshire and the Wirral.
159
Recommendation 58
We recommend that licensing authorities should continue to
have the power to limit the number of taxi vehicles licensed in
their area.
MECHANISMS FOR DETERMINING TAXI NUMBERS
11.71 Although we do not propose to abolish quantity restrictions, we see scope to
improve significantly the way they are imposed.
Unmet demand surveys
11.72 As the law currently stands, a local authority can only impose quantity restrictions
where it can show that there is no “significant unmet demand” for taxis in the
area.51 A general practice has developed of local authorities conducting what are
known as “unmet demand surveys” before quantity restrictions are introduced (or
retained where they are already in place).52 The law does not permit a licensing
authority to balance unmet demand against other factors militating in favour of
quantity restrictions, such as congestion, over-ranking,53 or environmental harm.
11.73 Our consultation paper suggested that the concept of unmet demand was not
necessarily a useful or effective way of assessing whether quantity restrictions
should be applied.
11.74 A taxi driver in Oxford told us that he did not believe surveys painted a true
picture of demand, and suggested that the huge numbers applying for licences
each time they are issued shows that there must be demand for more vehicles.
We are not persuaded by that: demand from would-be taxi drivers does not
necessarily match the demand from the public; the former may well exceed the
latter, as there is no guarantee that taxi drivers’ expectations are in line with
customer demand. However, the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton described
unmet demand surveys as “expensive and unreliable”. Carmarthenshire County
Council described the content of these surveys as “open to criticism”.
11.75 Furthermore, the process of applying quantity restrictions appears to
be susceptible to trade pressure, and it is highly unlikely that the level of
provision deemed acceptable by the trade will be the optimum level for the
public. In other areas respondents have claimed that taxi drivers know when
unmet demand surveys are taking place and will minimise the appearance of
unmet demand by working the busiest hours to reduce waiting times.
Furthermore, decisions about quantity restrictions seem to be taken with little or
no input from the public.
51 Town Police Clauses Act 1847 as modified by Transport Act 1985, s 16.
52 See Southampton
http://www.southampton.gov.uk/Images/Halcrow_Unmet_Demand_Report_2012_tcm46-
324746.pdf (last visited 19 May 2014); the Wirral http://www.national-taxiassociation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/HALCROW-WIRRAL-SURVEY-2011.pdf
(last visited 19 May 2014) and the Ipsos Mori Taxi availability study for Licensed Taxi
Drivers Association, conducted in 2007.
53 Over-ranking refers to the problem of too many taxis lining up at ranks.
160
Broad discretion
11.76 Some stakeholders argued for a return to the pre-Transport Act 1985
situation, when a local authority was unfettered in its discretion to apply quantity
restrictions. This would allow them to take account of any matters felt to be
relevant, structuring a mechanism to suit the local area and taxi fleet.
11.77 However, this model has no safeguards other than those of public law
generally and there could be no opportunity for members of the public to have
input. It is important to ensure that there are sufficient taxis to enable the public to
travel with reasonable ease when they wish to and across a range of locations.
Giving local authorities unfettered discretion may not achieve this, as we have
heard that some are already reluctant to review and update their limits under the
current scheme. We do not believe this would be a desirable change.
Linking taxi number increases to rank space
11.78 As an alternative to the unmet demand test, a number of stakeholders, including
Bryan Roland of the National Private Hire Association and Sefton Hackney
Drivers, suggested that new plates should only be issued in proportion to
available rank space. Increased pressure on rank space was an issue raised by a
number of local authorities objecting to the removal of quantity restrictions. Whilst
we can see some merit in this, we believe that ranks exist primarily to serve the
public, in providing a convenient location at which to engage a taxi. Taxis are not
limited to working at ranks, and technology is providing increasingly smarter ways
of working, matching taxis with willing customers. Moreover, town centres and
other areas where ranks would be useful often will simply not allow for more rank
space. We therefore do not believe that placing local authorities under an
obligation to relate taxi numbers to rank space would be satisfactory.
Evidence-based decisions on taxi numbers
11.79 Certain US cities are moving towards increasingly technological, data
intensive methods of monitoring taxi vehicle usage.54 Such systems allow
regulators to base decisions on actual data instead of projected figures and other
proxies.55 We do not suggest a requirement for licensing authorities to monitor
industry data directly, and we are not aware of any authorities in England and
Wales that take such an approach, presumably for reasons of cost. However, a
number of stakeholders supported such an approach in their responses; for
example, the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton. Whilst we do not recommend
that legislation should necessarily include data gathering requirements, we
suggest that consideration be given to including them in best practice guidance.
A PUBLIC INTEREST TEST
11.80 Public interest tests are used in various North American cities and
54 See, for example, New York Taxicab Passenger Enhancements
Project, http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/industry/taxicab_serv_enh.shtml (last visited 19
May 2014).
55 See, for example, papers delivered on 17 November 2012 at the IATR
Conference Washington DC by Roger F Teal, PhD, Market Data and Knowledge:
Delivering in the Role of the Taxi Regulator Providing a Public Service; and Ray A. Mundy,
PhD, Using Actual Taxi Data for Regulating Taxicab Services.
161
Australian states.56 They often accompany a presumption in favour of granting
taxi licences unless the regulator is able to show that this is against the public
interest.57
11.81 Our draft Bill includes a power for licensing authorities to limit the number of taxis
in their area but only if to do so is in the public interest.58 Assessment of the
public interest is to take into account a non-exhaustive list of statutory factors
which include:
(1) the interests of consumers;
(2) provision for disabled passengers;
(3) traffic congestion, over-ranking and environmental considerations; and
(4) sustainability of the industry.
11.82 Our proposed public interest test could operate in a similar way to that in the
Transport Act 2000, whereby local authorities are required to consider a
public interest test before introducing a quality contracts scheme – essentially a
bus franchise.59
11.83 In order to promote consistency, transparency and better quality decision-making,
we recommend that the Secretary of State should have the power to make
regulations prescribing how the public interest test should be applied.60 This
could include, but not be limited to, the current content of the Department for
Transport’s best practice guidance.61 We recommend, for example, that so-called
“peaked demand” should continue to be taken into account. Regulations might
further specify how evidence in respect of each of the statutory factors should be
analysed and taken into account. This can be important in ensuring transparency
and consistency. We recommend that the regulation-making power should cover
the following topics: what might constitute appropriate evidence; methodology;
weighting; and benchmarks.
11.84 The draft Bill requires the Secretary of State, in making the relevant regulations,
to consult the same groups as in respect of drafting national standards.62
11.85 We note that at the moment the Department for Transport best practice guidance
56 For example, these were considered as part of a discussion on quantity restrictions at
the International Association of Transport Regulators’ 2012 Conference, held in
Washington DC between Thursday 14 November and Saturday 16 November 2012.
57 See for example, KPMG’s review of Australian taxi legislation in 1999 which
suggested moving to a presumption of granting applications for taxi licences unless the
regulator could demonstrate this would be against the public interest.
58 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 18(7).
59 Transport Act 2000, s 124(1)(b) to (e).
60 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 18(8).
61 Department for Transport, Taxi and private hire licensing: best practice guidance, March
2010, paras 45 to 51.
62 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 73(4). For further detail on the
consultation requirement, see Chapter 3 above.
162
recommends that surveys should not be funded by the trade; we recommend that
money to pay for such surveys should come from licence fee revenue, and
comply with our principles of a self-funding, ring fenced system.63 The public
interest test should be flexible enough to allow licensing authorities to take into
account purely local considerations, but in the context of clear requirements set
out in the public interest test regulations.
Recommendation 59
The power of licensing authorities to impose quantity
restrictions should be subject to a statutory public interest test.
Further, the Secretary of State should have regulation-making
powers prescribing how the statutory test should be applied.
FREQUENCY OF REVIEWS
11.86 We think it important to set out the process by which the decision should
be made, ensuring that it is procedurally correct and fair. The cornerstone of this
is a requirement that local authorities should review their policy at regular
intervals. We think the Department for Transport’s best practice guidance, which
recommends reviewing quantity restrictions at least every three years, strikes the
correct balance.64 A requirement to this effect is in clause 18(6) of our draft Bill.
11.87 Finally, the draft Bill requires licensing authorities to consult locally before
introducing a quantity restrictions scheme; the process for local consultation is to
be determined in regulations.65
Recommendation 60
Decisions to restrict taxi numbers should be reviewed at least
every three years and be subject to local consultation in
accordance with such procedures as may be prescribed in
regulations made by the Secretary of State.
ALTERNATIVE TOOLS FOR IMPROVING TAXI PROVISION
Dispensations for wheelchair accessible vehicles
11.88 We are aware that some local authorities which currently apply
quantity restrictions disapply these in relation to wheelchair accessible vehicles,
and that provisions within the Equality Act 2010, if brought into force, would
require local authorities to do so.66 We consider that the proper application of a
63 See Chapter 10 above.
64 Department for Transport, Taxi and private hire licensing: best practice guidance, March
2010, para 49.
65 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 18(8).
66 Equality Act 2010, s 161. This section is at present in force only in so far as it confers
power to make regulations. This section provides that a local authority cannot refuse to
grant a licence on grounds of numerical limit where the application is in respect of a
wheelchair accessible vehicle if the proportion of such vehicles in the local licensing area
for which the licence would be granted is less than a proportion prescribed by the
Secretary of State. No regulations have, to date, been made using these powers.
163
public interest test should take into account the need to ensure accessibility, and
that a failure to do so would be grounds upon which to challenge the quantity
restrictions policy. We discuss accessibility policies more specifically in the
following chapter.
Peak demand licences
11.89 In the consultation paper, we sought views on alternative strategies which could
be used to address shortages of taxis late at night. We asked whether it would be
useful for licensing authorities to issue taxi licences that could only be used
during specified hours of the day prescribed by the licensing authority.67
Licensing authorities in England and Wales (outside London) already have an
express power to restrict the working hours of taxis.68
Consultation
11.90 This provisional proposal proved very unpopular. There were two main categories
of consultees who disagreed. The first group disagreed with peak demand
licences on the grounds that such a system would be unenforceable. Those
in the second group argued that it would be unfair to allow greater competition
at what was often the only profitable time of the week. However, we also heard
that many taxi drivers were reluctant to work late nights, leading to
shortages. There were also concerns that peak time licences would lead to public
confusion, with peak demand taxis unlawfully working outside their prescribed
times. These respondents stressed that night provision should be solved by
other means. Transport for London has suggested that peak demand licences
would not be appropriate for London.
Discussion
11.91 In light of the preponderance of opinion, we are not taking this suggestion
forward. The utility of adding such a further category of licence is outweighed by
the complication it could add to the system.
PLATE VALUES
11.92 Our recommendation to retain quantity restrictions means that plate values
associated with taxi vehicle licences in restricted areas could continue.
11.93 Plate values arise from the scarcity of vehicle licences in areas which operate
quantity restrictions, and are realised by the practice of selling vehicles with the
licence still attached. There is no official or standardised platform in which trades
occur, and such transactions are carried out informally.69 Values vary enormously
67 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, question 40.
68 See Town Police Clauses Act 1847, s 68: The commissioners may from time to time
… make byelaws for all or any of the purposes following … For regulating the conduct of
the proprietors and drivers of hackney carriages plying within the prescribed distance …
and for regulating the hours within which they may exercise their calling. The Metropolitan
Public Carriage Act 1869, s 9 (which applies in London) does not refer to working hours.
69 This can be contrasted with the position in other jurisdictions, such as New York where taxi
licences are traded on the stock exchange. See for example,
http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/taxi.
164
and can range from £1,000 to £120,000. We have not been able to ascertain any
pattern in values, and high values do not necessarily correlate to regions with
higher earning potential. For example, the highest plate value we have heard of is
in Oxford, where it is alleged that licences have changed hands for up to
£120,000. Perhaps surprisingly, Oxford comes just 146th in the “league table” of
fares published by Private Hire and Taxi Monthly.70 Other values we are aware of
are £20,000 to £30,000 in Torbay; £20,000 in Exeter; £30,000 in Blackpool;
£50,000 in Reading and £25,000 in the Carrick licensing zone of Cornwall. In the
impact assessment which accompanied our consultation paper we noted that two
independent studies in 2007 estimated the weighted average premium value to
be £29,753 and £33,635 respectively.71
11.94 However, there does seem to be a link between plate values and the longevity
of a quantity restrictions policy; for example, taxi licences in Aylesbury
Vale, where the number of licences for the town centre zone has not changed
since the 1970s, allegedly change hands for £80,000 to £90,000. This suggests
that in such areas licence holders feel that the quantity restriction policy is
more secure and thus can be relied on more.
Consultation
11.95 Although we did not ask a distinct question about the trade in taxi plates,
many stakeholders brought the issue up in relation to quantity restrictions. It
was notable that even those stakeholders who supported retaining
quantity restrictions often felt that the trade in taxi licences should be stopped.
The City of York objected to the high values licences attracted (around £60,000 in
that city) and the fact that some individuals hold multiple vehicle licences, renting
them to drivers at very high rates but leaving the driver responsible for vehicle
maintenance and upkeep.
11.96 A number of stakeholders simply questioned whether it was right that
individuals should gain such significant financial benefit from a public good,
granted at low price, such as an authorisation to undertake a particular
occupation. Private hire drivers often complained that the value was a substantial
barrier to entry, and we had some responses from taxi drivers (often former
owner/drivers) who disagreed with the high value trade in licences.
11.97 One licensing officer told us that plate values encouraged lower
vehicle standards as older vehicles had an artificially inflated value and there was
an incentive to keep them on the road as long as possible whilst the licence
was attached to them.
11.98 We were also told that when licences change hands this tends to be
within particular communities; the unofficial nature of the market
encourages advertisement of a sale by word of mouth or through dedicated fora,
so licences are often transferred to someone who already has an interest in the
70 Private Hire and Taxi Monthly, Issue 245, February 2013, p 65.
71 These values are found in the Europe Economics survey Evaluating the impact of the
taxis market study, October 2007, para E.49 (£29.735) and a survey undertaken by the
Taxi Driver Online website, Restricting taxi numbers: myth and reality, 2007, available
at http://www.taxi-driver.co.uk/reality.doc (last visited 18 March 2013).
165
taxi trade, or who is a friend or relative of someone who does. This
constitutes another, indirect, barrier to entry. It has also been suggested that the
perception of value may have a negative effect on the best operation of the
market, with incumbents staying in the industry even where it is not in their best
interests to do so, in order to allow the value of their licence to continue to grow.72
11.99 We received fewer responses in favour of maintaining the status quo.
Many respondents treated the issues of quantity restrictions and plate values
together, and it seems that many respondents who supported the retention of
quantity restrictions were also against any loss of plate value, even though they
may not have said this expressly.
11.100 Trevor Boaler of the National Taxi Trades Group said:
The hardship that drivers will face who have currently taken out
loans, remortgages to enter the trade and the loss to drivers who may
have been thinking they had something to retire with should be
fairly compensated. The Australian and Irish model for compensation
could go some way to deal with this because if not, the financial
hardship would ultimately put a burden on state benefit system.
11.101 A number of taxi drivers submitted the same response. Throughout
consultation we were made aware of severe concerns about loss of a significant
investment, which incumbents often rely on to provide a pension or to invest in a
child’s education, or which they have used as collateral for a loan or mortgage.
11.102 Many respondents simply pointed out that loss of plate values would be unfair.
Some stakeholders, such as Jonathan Ninnis from St Ives, pointed to licence
values as ensuring investment in the trade, which in turn promotes professional
standards.
11.103 Stakeholders have highlighted some of the positive effects that accompany
higher plate values. They promote professionalism and pride in the industry,
given the large investment required to be involved. This in turn promotes more
compliance and relieves enforcement costs. The academic Katrina
Wyman considers the argument that plate values are a way of internalising the
costs that taxis impose on society through congestion and pollution, by making
plate owners pay for the privilege; however she rejects it, finding that licences
are simply an economic instrument and means of political power.73
Discussion
11.104 As a matter of principle, if we were starting from scratch, we would wish to have a
licensing system that did not generate plate values. First, evidence suggests that
the premium in plates is not generally put back into the industry to help finance
new or upgraded vehicles. Rather, many licence holders rely on plate premiums
72 Taxi Regulation Review, Report of the Review Group, p 12.
73 See also Katrina Wyman, “Problematic Private Property: The Case of New York
Taxicab Medallions” Volume 30Yale Journal on Regulation, 125 at p 123 – 132. Wyman
suggests that New York taxi medallions attract high values due to the economic benefit this
gives to medallion owners, agents, brokers and lenders, drivers who share monopoly
rents, the unions and the political clout of the taxi industry.
166
as pension funds, or to provide the collateral to repay a mortgage or fund their
children’s education.
11.105 Second, plate values add little or no value to the licensing system as a whole,
and the effect is to prevent many would-be entrants to the trade being able to
obtain their own licence. The Taxi Review Group established to consider taxi
licensing in the Republic of Ireland (where licence values peaked at around
€150,000) noted that “a licence should determine a person’s suitability to carry
out a function and it should not have monetary value or be traded on the open
market.”74
11.106 The above considerations suggest that if we were designing an entirely new
system, plate values would not be a feature. However, it is important that we take
into consideration the landscape which has evolved under the current law, in
which plate values hold a great deal of significance for many people, for whom
their removal would be highly damaging.
11.107 We recommend that in areas where quantity restrictions are introduced after our
reforms (new quantity restricted areas), it should not be possible to trade vehicle
licences.75 In such areas an unwanted licence should be surrendered to the
licensing authority, as with any other case of revocation or expiry at the end of a
licence term. Notably, this means that if London, for example, were to introduce
quantity restrictions further to our reforms, no plate values could arise.
11.108 The position is, however, considerably different in areas where quantity
restrictions currently exist and premiums have been allowed to arise. Taxi licence
holders in these areas have, in many cases reasonably, invested considerable
sums in respect of plates. A change in the law would have a huge impact on
incumbents, completely wiping out their investments. Given that plate premiums
have been permitted to arise, it would we think be unfair for a shift in legal policy
to destroy them, causing substantial loss to a class of individuals who acted in
accordance with the law.76
Recommendation 61
In licensing areas where quantity restrictions already exist at the
time of the introduction of our reforms, but not in other areas,
vehicle licence holders should continue to be able to transfer
their taxi licences at a premium.
11.109 This is achieved by clause 24 of the draft Bill, which empowers the Secretary of
State to establish a procedure for the transfer of taxi vehicle licences, but only in
areas specified in the regulations (which will be the areas which operate quantity
restrictions at the coming into force of the clause) or in areas which do not have
quantity restrictions, where transferees would have no incentive to pay a
premium for the transfer.
74 Taxi Regulation Review, Report of the Taxi Review Group, p 16.
75 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 24(4).
76 Whilst incumbents have always faced the risk of their plate values disappearing as a result
of derestriction, this is a different matter from a shift in policy which specifically destroyed
plate values whilst preserving quantity restrictions.
167
CHAPTER 12
ACCESSIBILITY
INTRODUCTION
12.1 Ensuring proper accessibility for all was a stated priority of our review.1
Whilst
improvements have been made over the last 20 years, more needs to be done to
improve accessibility, particularly as provision currently varies widely between
different licensing areas.
INCENTIVES
12.2 We asked stakeholders whether licensing authorities should have the ability to
set a lower licensing fee for vehicles meeting certain accessibility standards.2
We
were interested in finding out whether this could incentivise the uptake of
accessible vehicles.
Consultation
12.3 Most consultees agreed with this. At the same time, the majority of stakeholders
we met at consultation events told us that it would be difficult to set the incentive
at a level where it would make a difference. Torfaen County Borough Council
said it had made available discounted fees for four years, but this had not been
effective in increasing numbers as the discount did not cover the additional cost
of purchasing the vehicle. A number of people suggested waiving VAT, reducing
road tax for wheelchair accessible vehicles, or providing other tax breaks.
12.4 Consultees who disagreed tended to argue that providing lower fees for
accessible vehicles would result in increased fees for other licensees, as fee
levels are determined on a cost recovery basis.
Discussion
12.5 Some form of financial incentive would clearly encourage licence holders to meet
certain accessibility standards. However, the general view is that a reduction in
licensing fees would not be the answer. Any reduction in the fee would most
probably not compensate for the additional expense arising from purchasing and
operating an accessible vehicle, although this would depend on the type of
vehicle and the standards it met.
12.6 Further work would also be required to identify the right financial incentives and
how the cost of them should be borne. It would not be for us to undertake this
kind of assessment, but we recognise that it could be a worthwhile matter for the
Secretary of State to pursue.
1
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, pp 136 – 137.
2
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 58.
168
ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS
12.7 In our consultation paper we suggested that the Secretary of State should have
the power to set standards for drivers, vehicles and operators. We originally
proposed that this power should be limited to conditions relating to safety. As
discussed above,3
we now think the power should extend also to conditions
relating to accessibility, to protection of the environment and to matters relevant
to enforcement. Accessibility would therefore feature as a central requirement as
part of national standards, allowing the Secretary of State to impose the
requirements we suggest in this chapter, together with any additional standards
the Secretary of State found appropriate, following consultation with a technical
panel.4
ACCESSIBILITY TRAINING
12.8 In our consultation paper we strongly recommended that drivers of both taxis and
private hire vehicles should undergo training on disability awareness as a
condition of their licence.5 We felt that many of the problems experienced by
disabled people stemmed from lack of awareness and poor attitude, and that this
would be most appropriately tackled through education.
Consultation
12.9 This proposal attracted high levels of support. The key themes of such training
were identified as enabling drivers better to understand the needs of their
disabled passengers, and to be able to operate and maintain equipment properly.
One respondent suggested that training was needed on how to adjust driving
behaviour to address the needs of different passengers.
12.10 Anecdotal evidence was provided about drivers not knowing how to operate the
ramp in their vehicle, and failing to use the restraints in their vehicle to secure a
wheelchair. Other examples included drivers losing their temper with disabled
passengers who required assistance in entering the vehicle and trying to require
passengers to travel in a way which would not be comfortable or safe for them.
12.11 Consultees representing people with learning disabilities told us that such people
may have difficulties in communication and often other sensory or physical
disabilities, and may need high levels of support. Training is needed to increase
awareness of such needs. The needs of passengers with visual and auditory
impairments also need to be adequately represented in the training. A number of
respondents reported instances of drivers refusing to carry assistance dogs on
religious grounds, because dogs are regarded as unclean in some religions.
Others described situations where inadequate or inappropriate accommodation
was available for assistance dogs, and one case where the carpet was rolled
back and the dog required to sit on a metal floor. This is another area which could
be covered in mandatory training, particularly as the obligation of taxi and private
hire vehicle drivers to carry an assistance dog at no additional charge is already
3
See Chapter 5, Recommendation 31.
4
See Chapter 4 for further information on the consultation requirements relating to the
Secretary of State’s standard-setting powers.
5
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 61.
169
prescribed in legislation.6
Exemption certificates may be issued to drivers on
medical grounds. Failure to comply with the duty is a criminal offence.
12.12 Dr Jon Hastie of the Fed Centre for Independent Living argued that such training
requirements should extend to private hire operators. When we met with users of
the Centre we heard of incidents where they had requested a specific type of
vehicle, only for one which was wholly inappropriate to arrive. Much of this can be
put down to a lack of understanding and awareness on the part of operators.
12.13 We received a number of suggestions as to what the training should involve and
how it should be presented. A number of disability groups said that training
should be provided, at least in part, by disabled people. It was important to
increase awareness about the different types of disability, and to move away from
the idea that it is solely about people in wheelchairs. Training might also help to
address tension between drivers of accessible taxis and their disabled
passengers. Many consultees also felt strongly that training should include
making sure that passengers are safe once they have been dropped off at their
destination.
12.14 The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee said such training should
be provided to a recognised, accredited standard equivalent to the Certificate of
Professional Competence which drivers of public service vehicles and goods
vehicles are required to have. It should also be linked to relevant security checks,
such as Disclosure and Barring Service criminal records checks. Of course, it is
important to recognise that a number of local authorities already require disability
awareness training of their drivers, and that a number of successful schemes
already exist.
Discussion
12.15 Our provisional proposal for national standards to include recognised disability
awareness training received overwhelming support. We firmly recommend that
taxi and private hire drivers should be required to undergo disability awareness
training. Our draft Bill would create such a requirement in primary legislation. We
recommend that the Secretary of State should set out the required content of
such training in the exercise of the standard-setting power. Nothing in our
recommendations is intended to limit the training which may be required of
drivers to disability awareness; indeed, during consultation we heard good
arguments for it being combined with wider customer service training.
12.16 The latest statistics from the Department for Transport indicate that just under a
third of authorities require disability awareness training for taxi drivers, and even
fewer impose such a requirement on private hire drivers.7
Unlike other matters
that we have discussed as part of national standards, the need for which can be
6
Equality Act 2010, ss 168 to171; Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Taxis) (Carrying of
Guide Dogs etc) (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2000/2990 and Disability
Discrimination Act 1995 (Private Hire Vehicles) (Carrying of Guide Dogs etc) (England and
Wales) Regulations 2003 SI 2003/3122.
7
Department for Transport, Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Statistics: England and Wales
2013, 6 August, 2013, p 3, available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/226355/taxiprivate-hire-statistics-2013.pdf (last visited 19 May 2014).
170
left to be determined by the Secretary of State, we think that disability awareness
training for taxi and private hire drivers should be a requirement of primary
legislation. Whereas in general we regard the requirements of licences and the
level at which the requirements should be set as matters for the discretion of the
Secretary of State, we do not consider that the discretion should extend to
whether disability awareness training is required. By contrast, the content of such
training would properly fall to be determined through national standards. This is
provided for in clauses 15(3) and (4) of our draft Bill.
12.17 As we stressed during consultation, it would not be appropriate for us to make
detailed recommendations as to the content of the course and how it should be
delivered. Instead, the Secretary of State should have the power to do this, and
should exercise this power following consultation with relevant expert groups and
stakeholders.
12.18 It has been suggested by some that only new entrants to the trade should have to
be trained. We disagree. We recommend that attaining the required level in a
disability awareness course should become compulsory for all taxi and private
hire vehicle drivers. In order to phase in compliance, drivers could be required to
attend the course before their licence is next renewed. Provision should be made
to ensure that drivers who have already undertaken a sufficient level of disability
awareness training are not required to duplicate this.
Recommendation 62
We recommend that taxi and private hire drivers be required to
undergo disability awareness training of a standard set by the
Secretary of State.
12.19 This recommendation is given effect by clause 15(3) of our draft Bill, which will
apply both to a first application for a licence and to a renewal application, and will
require a course to have been undergone within a stipulated past period.
A REQUIREMENT TO DISPLAY COMPLAINTS INFORMATION
12.20 We proposed in our consultation paper that there should be a requirement to
display information on how to complain about taxi and private hire services in all
licensed vehicles.8 We saw this as a useful tool in combating discrimination and
as useful not only for disabled passengers but for the travelling public generally.
Consultation
12.21 This proposal was extremely popular. Of the nine respondents who disagreed
seven were from the trade, together with one regulator and one “other”. Those
who disagreed often did so on the basis that this would encourage unjustified
complaints or false allegations. A number of respondents said such information
needed to be externally visible on taxis, so a complaint could be lodged if a driver
failed to stop when hailed. Respondents noted that it would be important for the
information to be available in accessible formats.
8 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 62.
171
12.22 One respondent said that local licensing authorities should make the taxi fare
tariff available online. This would be of benefit generally, as would the wider
distribution of licensing information.
Discussion
12.23 We remain persuaded that an obligation contained in vehicle licence conditions,
to display complaints information inside the vehicle would be useful. We do not
think such a requirement would be unduly onerous, and believe that the benefits
would far outweigh any disadvantages. Such a requirement is common in public
transport such as buses and trains. Complaints could also help draw the attention
of local licensing authorities to those operating contrary to the legal requirements,
which would assist with enforcement.
12.24 Local authorities are used to dealing with complaints, and are equipped for
handling them. Some authorities provide direct links online for licensing
complaints.9 Many local libraries also incorporate local authority customer service
centres where complaints could be lodged.
12.25 There are various practical issues to consider. It would be necessary to make the
information available in alternative formats, such as large print and braille.
Information should also be made available at ranks, and on local licensing
authority websites. Some stakeholders have also suggested that information
should be available on the outside of the vehicle, so that a complaint can be
made if a taxi fails to stop when hailed. We are not convinced by this, as it is
unlikely the disappointed traveller would be able to note the details, but it is
something the Secretary of State could consider.
Recommendation 63
We recommend that the Secretary of State require information
on how to complain about taxi and private hire vehicle services
to be displayed in taxi and private hire vehicles.
Recommendation 64
We recommend that local licensing authorities should display
complaint information in offices, libraries and on websites.
LOCAL ACCESSIBILITY NEEDS REVIEW
12.26 During consultation stakeholders representing disabled passengers highlighted
how local standard-setting often overlooked the needs of disabled passengers.
Typically, this took the form of overly restricting the type of provision that could be
made. Such policies, standards or conditions can be judicially reviewed, and we
will recommend a streamlined process for judicial review of local standards.10
12.27 As we noted in our consultation paper, general equality duties apply to any public
9 See, for example, Guildford Borough Council’s online portal for complaints about licensed
vehicles: http://www.guildford.gov.uk/article/3623/Make-a-complaint-about-a-Guildfordlicensed-taxidriver-or-company (last visited 13 March 2014).
10 For further details, see Chapter 14.
172
authority in discharging public functions. Furthermore, in Chapter 11 we
recommended that a local authority wishing to impose or continue quantity
restrictions must take into account a range of statutory public interest factors,
including the impact on of doing so on disabled passengers.11
12.28 In order to ensure that licensing authorities specifically consider the needs of
disabled passengers as part of reviewing their local licensing conditions, we
recommend a new procedural requirement for licensing authorities to review their
taxi licensing policy at least every three years, in order to assess whether the
needs of their disabled constituents are being met.
Recommendation 65
We recommend that licensing authorities conduct an
accessibility review at three year intervals.
12.29 This recommendation is given effect by clause 15(5) of the draft Bill.
A NEW OBLIGATION TO STOP
12.30 We asked stakeholders for their views on how best to tackle taxi drivers ignoring
disabled passengers who try to hail them. We asked whether it would help to
impose an obligation on drivers to stop, if reasonable and safe to do so.12 This
question is closely tied to that of compellability; we have discussed the question
of an obligation to stop in Chapter 3.
Consultation
12.31 Whilst the majority of respondents agreed that there should be an obligation to
stop, a key concern was how to enforce such a requirement. Some stakeholders
considered it impractical, not least because it would be difficult to prove whether
or not it would have been safe for the driver to stop. A number of respondents
suggested that “mystery shoppers”13 could be used to test compliance. The
Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee recommended that fixed
penalty notices should be used to enforce against failure to stop.
12.32 Some regulators in Wales said that licensing authorities needed clear
enforcement powers to sanction drivers who fail to offer reasonable assistance to
disabled passengers, with more appropriate penalties for offences. This could be
combined with national training in relation to recommended approaches and
techniques. They suggested a standard mandatory requirement for roof lights to
be connected to the taxi meter, to record when the vehicle is available for hire.
Others agreed that there should be some obvious mechanism to show when a
vehicle is available for hire. Many respondents thought that an illuminated roof
sign already signalled availability for hire and obliged the driver to stop where
safe.
11 Draft Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles Billl, clause 18(7)(b), and discussion at para 11.81
above.
12 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 63.
13 An expression used by competition authorities to describe people presenting themselves
as potential customers with a view to reporting infringements.
173
12.33 A number of respondents also identified overcharging as a problem for disabled
passengers. Some firms charge more for use of a wheelchair accessible vehicle
on the basis that it is more expensive to operate. There is also debate as to
whether a taxi meter should start running as soon as the driver arrives to pick up
the passenger or when the journey starts (and vice versa at the other end). If it is
the former the passenger is charged for the time taken, for example, to load the
wheelchair into and out of the vehicle, possibly adding quite considerably to the
cost. Some in the trade believe they should be able to charge for time used in this
way, whereas disability groups regard this as discriminatory in the provision of
the service. Where the passenger has agreed to pay a fixed fee (either for a
private hire vehicle or a pre-booked taxi), it is clear that any attempt to charge
more on the basis that they are disabled would be in breach of the Equality Act
2010.14 Best practice guidance from the Department for Transport advises that
drivers should not start the meter until the passenger is seated in the vehicle, but
the law is not clear on this question. We take the view that the meter should not
be started whilst a disabled person is still accessing the vehicle.
12.34 Many stakeholders representing disabled people identified problems with taxis
and private hire vehicles being late, not turning up at all, or not having the correct
information about the passenger’s needs. There were also concerns that the
growth in the use of smartphone applications could increase discrimination, as
some of these allow drivers to identify and sometimes even to rate passengers.
Discussion
12.35 There is general support for an obligation for a taxi driver to stop when hailed if it
is safe and reasonable to do so. This obligation would be in addition to the
requirement of compellability, which is currently only engaged once a driver has
stopped for a street hail or when the taxi is approached at a rank. This would go
some way towards eradicating the problems that many disabled people have
reported in hailing a taxi. However, there is a general question as to how this
could be set down in law and enforced effectively. This question is closely linked
to that of vehicle signage and the ability of the driver to signal whether or not he
or she is available for hire.
12.36 In Chapter 3 we recommended that the licensing authorities should have the
power to make a determination that taxis licensed in their area should be under a
duty to stop when hailed. As a result of our recommendation, drivers licensed in
such areas, and displaying a for hire sign, would commit an offence if they failed
to stop when hailed to do so, unless they had a reasonable excuse.15
12.37 We regard this as an important recommendation for improving access to taxis for
disabled people. Though we do not overlook the enforcement difficulties, we
consider that the existence of the obligation would have a degree of effect in
changing driver behaviour. So-called “mystery shoppers” may be a useful
enforcement tool, and improved complaints procedures as described above could
also help. Thought would need to be given to establishing a suitable level of
burden of proof. We suggest that it should be for a driver to demonstrate that it
was unsafe or otherwise unreasonable to stop. This recommendation is set out in
14 Equality Act 2010, s 15.
15 Draft Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles Billl, clause 29(2).
174
greater detail in Chapter 3 above.16
12.38 Recommendation 16, contained in Chapter 3 above, gives effect to this policy.
EQUALITY ACT 2010
12.39 In our consultation paper we highlighted the application of the Equality Act 2010
to the area of taxi and private hire licensing. We noted that licensing authorities
are subject to a duty to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of
opportunity, whilst service providers must not discriminate against disabled
people in the provision of services. We note that it would not fall within the scope
of this project for the Law Commission to recommend bringing into force those
sections of the Act which deal specifically with taxi and private hire services.
12.40 As will be clear from earlier parts of this chapter and the discussion in Chapter
3,17 during consultation we heard a significant amount of concerning evidence
about discrimination against disabled people. Two things were particularly clear:
first, that a lack of training and understanding are at the bottom of many of the
problems experienced; and secondly, that enforcement of existing protections is
weak, if indeed it takes place at all.
12.41 We recommend in Chapter 5 that the Secretary of State should have the power
to set national standards for driver, vehicle and dispatcher licences. These
powers would include setting standards relating to safety, accessibility and
matters relating to enforcement. Discrimination against disabled people is an
area in which these three categories of standards are inherently intertwined.
12.42 As the law currently stands, much of the behaviour complained of by disabled
passengers would infringe the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, in particular
the requirement not to discriminate in the provision of services.18 However, the
only means of enforcing this is through pursuing an action in the civil courts. This
is costly, complex and, without the support of a representative organisation or
charity, not feasible for most individuals. Furthermore, even if action were to be
taken against a driver or dispatcher, the court would not have the power to take
action against the licence.
12.43 In order to provide a more effective means of enforcement, and one which targets
the offending behaviour more squarely, we strongly recommend that the
Secretary of State should exercise the standard-setting powers to make it a
condition of licence for both drivers and operators that they comply with the
provisions of the Equality Act 2010, specifically section 29, which prohibits
discrimination in the provision of a service.
12.44 This would allow a licensing authority to take action against the licence where
there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a driver or dispatcher had, for
example, overcharged a customer on the basis of a disability. It would remove
the difficulties the customer faces in seeking to take action against this behaviour,
as the procedure would be activated simply by lodging a complaint with the
16 See Recommendation 16, and discussion from para 3.88 above.
17 See for example the discussion from para 3.83 above.
18 Equality Act 2010, s 29.
175
licensing authority. The complaint could then be dealt with through the usual
channels put in place by that authority, and would of course be subject to
evidential requirements.
Recommendation 66
We recommend that the Secretary of State require holders of taxi
and private hire driver licences and dispatcher licences to
comply with the Equality Act 2010 as a condition of the licence.
ACCESSIBLE VEHICLES
12.45 In our consultation paper we asked whether there should be a separate licensing
category for wheelchair accessible vehicles. We suggested that a vehicle holding
such a licence could be required to give priority to disabled passengers. We also
asked whether there should be a duty of licensing authorities to make adequate
provision at ranks for wheelchair accessible vehicles.19
Wheelchair-accessible vehicles
12.46 It became apparent during consultation that there is a great deal of confusion and
misunderstanding over what is meant by “wheelchair-accessible vehicle”. A
number of stakeholders told us that application of the term does not always mean
that a disabled person in a wheelchair can travel comfortably or safely in such a
vehicle, or that it is suitable for all types of wheelchair.
12.47 European specifications are not mandatory for wheelchair accessible vehicles20
and there is no single standard for such vehicles, although work has been done
by the British Standards Institute.21
12.48 The dimensions for wheelchair accessible vehicles (including regulated rail
vehicles, buses and coaches) are based on what is known as a “reference
wheelchair.”22 Some consultees told us that the dimensions are inadequate
because many modern wheelchairs, particularly electric wheelchairs, are larger.
However, other groups, such as the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory
Committee and the Spinal Injuries Association, say that the number of larger
wheelchairs is small and that the dimensions of accessible taxis are adequate.
12.49 Many wheelchair accessible vehicles are rear-loading, and some passengers
prefer that. Others, however, prefer a side-loading vehicle. From a safety point of
19 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
paper No 203, question 57.
20 Directive 2007/46/EC establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their
trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units for such vehicles. See in
particular Annex XI, Appendix 3.
21 See Specification for M1 vehicles for the carriage of one or more passengers seated in
wheelchairs. Manufacturing requirements PAS 2012-1:2012, and Specification for M1
vehicles for the carriage of one or more passengers seated in wheelchairs. Retail
requirements PAS 2012-2:2012, both published by the BSI http://www.bsigroup.com/enGB/ (last visited 19 March 2013).
22 As defined in the Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non-interoperable Rail System) Regulations
2010, SI 2010/432, Schedule 2, diagram A. The dimensions are length 1200mm, width
700mm, sitting height 1350 and height of footrest about the floor, 150 mm.
176
view a rear-loading vehicle can present problems because the passenger can
only access the vehicle from the road. This means that a longer ramp is required
because the kerb cannot be used, which can present access problems.
12.50 Many consultees emphasised that for a vehicle to be accessible did not
necessarily mean that it must be capable of carrying a wheelchair. Indeed,
wheelchair-accessible vehicles can pose difficulties for non-wheelchair using
disabled people; for example, those with mobility difficulties may struggle with the
high step and raised floor of a purpose-built vehicle. This has played an important
part in our policy consideration in this area.
Consultation
12.51 Consultees were fairly evenly divided on the question of a separate licensing
category for wheelchair accessible vehicles. The Disabled Persons Transport
Advisory Committee regarded the proposal as an “important recommendation”.
The Committee also considered that wheelchair accessible vehicles should be
granted priority at taxi ranks.
12.52 However, other consultees thought this could be potentially harmful, creating
tension between disabled people and other travellers. A comment made by a
number of respondents, in particular representatives of disabled people, was that
fair and equal access for all was the key, rather than priority treatment.
12.53 Another important point raised was that most disabled people do not require
wheelchair accessible vehicles – for example, some consultees with mobility
difficulties stated that they prefer saloon cars as they no not have to climb
upwards into them as they do with a traditional black cab.
12.54 Some stakeholders felt it would be useful if licensing authorities distributed
information regarding the range of vehicles available in the area, and who they
are operated by. Others noted that they often have difficulty in accessing vehicles
at ranks; during consultation we were shown ranks without dropped kerbs or
where there is insufficient space to extend a ramp. At one railway station, it was
only possible to load a wheelchair into an accessible taxi from the road, and not
from the pavement. We have already mentioned issues surrounding rear-loading
wheelchair-accessible vehicles; it is often difficult to accommodate these on
ranks as space for a ramp must be left clear behind them. As a result, some
licensing authorities will not license rear-loading vehicles.
Discussion
12.55 There are a number of practical difficulties arising from a separate licensing
category. It introduces another level of complexity into the licensing regime. A
category solely for wheelchair accessible vehicles would ignore the point made
by many respondents that the system needs to cater for many different types of
disability.
12.56 There would also be practical difficulties in requiring a licensee to give priority to
disabled passengers. For example, it may not always be obvious to a driver that
a potential passenger is disabled.
12.57 We do not recommend a separate licensing category for wheelchair accessible
177
vehicles. We do, however, take the view that licensing authorities should consider
the needs of disabled people in the provision of ranks and seek to provide
appropriate facilities. We suggest that local authorities should reconsider the
design of ranks to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010.23
12.58 Effective complaints procedures are also important in ensuring better provision
for disabled passengers. This could be achieved, for example, by providing
information about the licensing authority and local operators in alternative
formats. Other positive measures promoting improved accessibility include
providing information about the types of vehicle available from different operators
(which are referred to as “dispatchers” in our draft Bill) in the area. These
measures could be given effect as part of national standards by the Secretary of
State, and through local licensing conditions, both of which are expressly
required, under our recommendations, to take into account the needs of disabled
passengers.
Recommendation 67
We recommend that licensing authorities should reconsider rank
design to ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010.
Recommendation 68
We recommend that licensing conditions should provide that
information about the licensing authority and local operators
should be provided in alternative formats, as well as information
about the types of vehicle available in their area.
INCREASING THE AVAILABILITY OF ACCESSIBLE VEHICLES
12.59 In our consultation paper we asked stakeholders for suggestions as to how to
improve the availability of accessible vehicles.24
Quotas on wheelchair accessible vehicles
12.60 In our consultation paper we made it clear that we did not consider quotas of
wheelchair accessible vehicles to be a suitable issue for treatment within a
national licensing framework.25 We recognised that the need for accessible
vehicles, whether wheelchair-accessible or otherwise, was a highly localised
matter. Furthermore, the administration of such a system would prove difficult,
particularly in relation to monitoring and its application to individual licenceholders.
23 Equality Act 2010, s 149, which requires public authorities to eliminate discrimination,
advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between disabled and nondisabled persons.
24 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 59
25 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 60.
178
Consultation
12.61 Most respondents felt that national quotas would be unhelpful because provision
of accessible vehicles should be decided by individual licensing authorities in
response to local needs. However, many groups representing disabled people,
such as the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, disagreed with the
proposal and said that provision of a mixed fleet of accessible vehicles required
legislative underpinning. As for the appropriate threshold, the Committee’s initial
recommendation was that it should be in excess of 30% availability, while
Disability Rights UK proposed a minimum of 50%. The Joint Committee on
Mobility for Disabled People supported the use of quotas until such time as all
vehicles are accessible.
Discussion
12.62 It is our view that a mixed fleet would, in general, more appropriately meet the
needs of disabled people. It is clear that one size does not fit all, and that there is
a danger of focusing too heavily on the needs of passengers in wheelchairs,
perhaps at the expense of those with other, sometimes less obvious, accessibility
needs. Even amongst those who use wheelchairs there are different
requirements. This is one of the reasons why the Department for Transport has
found it so difficult to identify a “universal” vehicle in order to implement
provisions in the Equality Act 2010 and make regulations on taxi accessibility.26
12.63 However, we do not regard focus on the taxi fleet alone as being helpful here.
Many stakeholders, both representing the disabled community and otherwise,
noted that the two-tier system, by its very nature, provides a mixed fleet. It is
worth noting that 61% of disabled people plan their journeys in advance.27
12.64 Some stakeholders felt that legislative underpinning would be necessary to
regulate the mix of vehicles. We have concerns that it could become unduly
bureaucratic and unwieldy to administer. The right mix in one area may not be
right in another. Therefore, we stand by our provisional proposal not to introduce
quotas of wheelchair accessible vehicles. We also do not think that legislation
should require local authorities to license a mixed taxi fleet. However, we
recommend that authorities should aim to ensure a mixture of different types of
taxi in their area. Guidance from the Department for Transport might be an
appropriate way of encouraging authorities to adopt this policy.
12.65 We also do not propose to require private hire operators to have a particular
proportion of wheelchair accessible vehicles in their fleets. Similar concerns as to
administration and monitoring apply; furthermore, under our scheme it would be
necessary to set such requirements on a national basis, which would not be
appropriate.
12.66 Nothing in our proposals would prejudice the ability of a licensing authority to
impose a requirement that all taxis must be wheelchair accessible, as many
currently do, nor prevent a local authority from imposing their own quota if they
felt this was desirable.
26 Equality Act 2010, s 160.
27 Department for Transport, Attitudes of Disabled People to Public Transport, 2002.
179
Large private hire operators
12.67 Although in general terms we were not convinced that the imposition of quotas
would be useful, or indeed desirable, we did hear strong arguments as to the
position of large private operators (or dispatchers, as the licence holder would be
called under our proposed framework). Consultees pointed out that an operator
could control a fleet of tens, if not hundreds, of vehicles, without a single one
being wheelchair accessible. Furthermore, where such operators exist, they tend
to dominate their local market.
12.68 We recognise that there may be cogent reasons for requiring dispatchers with
large fleets to be able to provide a certain number of accessible vehicles. We
consider that the power to set national standards in our draft Bill is broad enough
to allow the Secretary of State to impose specific accessibility requirements in
respect of large private hire dispatchers, including in particular, quotas of
disabled access vehicles fitting such specifications as may be prescribed.28
Recommendation 69
We recommend that the Secretary of State should have the
power to impose accessibility requirements on large
operator/dispatchers. In particular, the power should permit the
setting of quotas of accessible vehicles which must be available
to such dispatchers.
28 Draft Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 19(5).
180
CHAPTER 13
ENFORCEMENT
INTRODUCTION
13.1 In this chapter, we consider the options for reforming enforcement of taxi and
private hire law. In particular, we focus on the powers and sanctions available
to licensing officers when taking enforcement action.
13.2 Under current law, responsibility for enforcement of the taxi and private hire
licensing regime lies with the licensing authority that issued the relevant licence.
In particular, authorities have powers to suspend or revoke licences, or to refuse
to renew them.1 Licensing authorities can also bring criminal charges against a
suspected offender.2 Where breaches of licensing conditions also constitute
offences, the police can also take enforcement action. Crucially, licensing officers
are unable to undertake enforcement against vehicles, drivers and operators
licensed in another area.
13.3 It is our view that enforcement powers should be improved in the following areas:
(1) a new power for licensing officers to stop licensed vehicles;
(2) touting;
(3) power to impound vehicles;
(4) fixed penalty notices;
(5) cross-border enforcement.
A NEW POWER TO STOP LICENSED VEHICLES
13.4 We asked consultees whether licensing officers should have the power to
stop licensed vehicles.3 We noted that licensing officers currently only have power
to inspect and test licensed vehicles for fitness;4
with only the police
having power to stop vehicles. The police often have competing priorities which
may mean that enforcement against licensing offences is not given the degree of
priority that licensing officers would like. We noted that specifically accredited
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (formerly Vehicle and Operator Services
Agency) “stopping officers” currently have powers to stop public service and
1
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss 60 to 62; London Hackney
Carriages Act 1843, s 25; London Cab Order 1934, para 30; Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 16.
2
Local Government Act 1972, s 222(1)(a).
3
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, question 64.
4 It is worth noting the specific situation of London in this area. Enforcement is carried out by
mixed teams including police and licensing officers, which greatly facilitates enforcement.
The legal basis for Transport for London’s power to appoint officers of the Metropolitan
Police to assist with enforcement is given by the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, s
12.
181
heavy goods vehicles.5 Existing powers allow constables and authorised persons
to stop and seize vehicles that are driven without appropriate public service
vehicle licences for example.6
To avoid a gap developing in the powers to stop
and immobilise under the public service vehicle legislation in respect of vehicles
that may now be regulated as private hire vehicles, our draft Bill grants the
Secretary of State the power to make regulations to give constables and stopping
officers appropriate powers in relation to private hire vehicles.7
Consultation
13.5 This suggestion received a very positive response from consultees, including
from within the trades themselves. Local authorities and other regulatory bodies
had mixed views on the issue.
13.6 Most of those who supported the idea and made substantive comments felt
that, although it would be a good idea to give licensing officers the power to
stop licensed vehicles, this would need to be carefully defined. Adequate
safeguards would also need to be put in place to protect officers, drivers and the
general public. For example, although the National Association of Licensing
Enforcement Officers strongly agreed with granting licensing officers the power to
stop licensed vehicles, calling this “the tool that is most obviously missing from
the current enforcement toolkit,” they highlighted the need for the proper training
of licensing officers, as well as appropriate safety measures. A large number
of other consultees also emphasised the need for empowered officers to be
highly trained and easily recognisable. Several consultees mentioned that the
Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (now the Driver and Vehicle Standards
Agency) already has a similar power and felt that this should be examined as a
template.
13.7 Some consultees, such as Transport for London, considered that the power
should extend to unlicensed vehicles where there is a suspicion of illegal activity.
13.8 Consultees who disagreed either rejected the idea outright, or suggested
various types of lesser powers which they considered more acceptable for
licensing officers. Several consultees noted that the idea might present multiple
risks, particularly to licensing officers from aggressive drivers, and to drivers
from criminals impersonating officers. The Association of Chief Police Officers’
Road Policing Portfolio representative thought it better for licensing officers
to work with the police on stopping vehicles. Several consultees, including
the Welsh Local Authorities and Birmingham City Council, suggested that
licensing officers should be given power to direct vehicles to a designated
stopping place but not to stop them on the highway. Neath Port Talbot County
Borough Council suggested that licensing officers should only be permitted to
instruct already stationary vehicles either to remain in place or to move to a
5
A stopping officer is defined as “an officer appointed under section 66B of the Road Traffic
Act 1988”.
6
Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, s 12B, and the powers conferred upon examiners to
immobilise vehicles, under s 66A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, and the Public Service
Vehicle Regulations (Enforcement Powers) Regulations 2009.
7
See discussion at Chapter 4, from para 4.53, and in particular, stretch limousines and
novelty vehicles; and “opt in vehicles”.
182
different location for examination.
Discussion
13.9 We maintain that a new stopping power for licensing officers, akin to that of
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency officers under the Road Traffic Act 1988,
would greatly aid enforcement.8
A properly trained and appointed local authority
“stopping officer” may have better knowledge and greater experience of the
nuances of taxi and private hire licensing law than the police. Stopping a vehicle
“in the act” may sometimes be the only viable way to halt illegal activity and
prevent further breaches from occurring.
13.10 However, we recognise that allowing licensing officers to stop licensed vehicles
raises a number of challenges. The power to stop vehicles on the highway is
typically associated only with the police, and there are potential risks to drivers,
licensing officers and the public if adequate safeguards are not put in place. It
might be difficult for licensing officers to identify in advance whether a vehicle
was licensed, raising civil liberties issues if they were to stop a non-licensed
vehicle. Some questioned the propriety of having a licensing officer, rather than
a uniformed police officer, approaching members of the public and
questioning them about their behaviour.
13.11 On the other hand, we do not believe these challenges are insurmountable.
The example of the powers of accredited officers from the Driver and Vehicle
Standards Agency to stop public service and heavy goods vehicles reveals
that these types of powers do not always have to be exercised by the police,
whose resources are thinly stretched. Proper accreditation programmes can
tackle issues such as public identification of officers and circumstances in which it
would be appropriate to stop a vehicle; further, it would not be difficult to inform
licensed taxi and private hire drivers of the change.
13.12 The draft Bill carefully circumscribes this power. The power would only be
available to licensing officers that had been appropriately trained and accredited
according to such requirements as may be set down by the Secretary of State.9
As an example, the existing power to stop public service vehicles includes a
requirement that officers must be provided with identification and a recognisable
uniform.10 We would expect that training would also include aspects such as
ensuring that the power is only used where there is a suitable and safe stopping
8
The Road Vehicles (Powers to Stop) Regulations 2011, SI 2011 No 996.
9
Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 44.
10 Road Traffic Act 1988, s66B(4).
183
place, and compliance with PACE codes.11
13.13 In order to reduce risks to officers and to safeguard the civil liberties of the
general public, the draft Bill provides that officers are only empowered to stop
licensed taxi or private hire vehicles (or vehicles that the officers reasonably
believe to be so licensed) for the purposes of carrying out checks to verify
compliance with licensing requirements.12
13.14 It should be for each local authority to decide whether it wants to train and
accredit licensing officers to be able to stop vehicles, depending on the levels of
licence contraventions.
13.15 Finally, we note that this power, alongside the new power to move vehicles on,
which we propose in the context of dispersing unofficial ranks,13 can significantly
enhance licensing officers’ ability to enforce licensing requirements.
Recommendation 70
We recommend that licensing officers who have been
suitably trained and accredited should be given the power to
stop licensed taxi and private hire vehicles in a public place for
the purpose of checking compliance with licensing
requirements.
TOUTING
13.16 We asked consultees how we could better address the offence of touting.14 The
criminal offence of taxi touting consists of, in a public place, soliciting persons to
hire vehicles to carry them as passengers.15 It can apply to licensed and
unlicensed vehicles. Touting can attract a fine up to £2,500.16 In general terms,
soliciting means to encourage or try to induce someone to engage the services of
a taxi. With specific reference to taxis and private hire vehicles, this behaviour
tends to involve a tout approaching potential customers, often as they leave a
restaurant or bar, to ask if they need a taxi. Soliciting requires more than a
11 S 67(9) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act provides that the codes of practice apply
to persons “other than police officers who are charged with the duty of investigating
offences or charging offenders”. This has been held to include Revenue and Customs
officers: R v Okafor, 99 Cr App R. 97, CA for example. It is a question of fact whether or
not a particular individual is a person “charge with the duty of investigating offences”, see
R v Bayliss, 98 Cr App R 235, CA. We expect that this could cover the activities of
stopping officers. Similar considerations apply in respect of Driver and Vehicle Standards
Agency officers exercising their powers to stop vehicles under the Road Traffic Act 1988,
see for example
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmstand/a/st060321/pm/60321s05.ht
m (last visited 19 May 2014).
12 See draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 49(2). Licensed vehicles should be
relatively easy to identify as they should be carrying a licence plate; national standards
relating to signage could assist here.
13 See discussion from para 3.68 above.
14 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, question 65.
15 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s 167.
16 See Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s 167(5), which imposes level 4 fine.
184
vehicle simply waiting in the street.17
13.17 Touting is considered by both licensing officers and the police to pose a major
risk in terms of public safety. Those targeted by touts are often vulnerable
because they are alone and/or have consumed alcohol, are anxious to get home,
and may not realise the dangers of taking unlicensed cars or un-booked private
hire vehicles. This is the reason why, in many areas, the police are very active in
pursuing such behaviour. This is in contrast to plying for hire, in relation to which
the police bring very few, if any, prosecutions.18 Touting raised most concern in
London, where a specialist Cab Enforcement Unit was set up in 2003,19 and in
many town centres, especially at night.
13.18 Touting is currently an offence if committed “in a public place”. This covers places
to which the public has access, whether or not payment is required.20 This
means, for example, that doormen offering customers leaving a venue a hire
vehicle may technically be touting. Transport for London allows licensed private
hire operators to set up “satellite” booking offices within venues and promote their
business there, with the aim of discouraging unlicensed touts and ensuring that
people get home in safe, licensed cars. However, many in the taxi trade have
expressed strong opposition to this, also reporting that aggressive tactics are
used by the private hire firms’ employees, known as “clipboard johnnies”, to push
taxi drivers away from the venues and hustle customers into the firm’s vehicles.
Transport for London often place conditions on these satellite offices which
require, for example, that the booking be made in a restricted location.
Consultation
13.19 Consultees responded with a wide range of different ideas. Responses tended to
vary by area – touting seems to be a much bigger problem in large cities and less
so in smaller towns and rural areas. Responses also varied between those who
saw touting as a major problem and those who suggested that it could sometimes
be a legitimate way of promoting business for licensed operators.
13.20 Many consultees told us that there is insufficient enforcement of the law
on touting. Some consultees, such as Peterborough taxi driver Mohammed Ali,
told us that they see little or no enforcement in their area. Allied Vehicles
also suggested that “more proactive field-work” would be necessary to tackle
the problem.
13.21 Many consultees argued that there should be higher penalties for touting; this
was a very popular suggestion. Many consultees, such as ComCab Liverpool,
told us that the currently relatively low penalties for touting mean that offenders
are willing to take the risk, as their profits will outweigh the effects of any fine.
Currently, a conviction for touting attracts a maximum penalty of £2500;21
17 Oddy v Bugbugs Ltd [2003] EWHC 2865 (Admin); 2003 WL 22477363, by Mr Justice
Pitchford at paras 51 to 52.
18 We understand that “plying for hire” has been removed from the curriculum at Hendon
Police College.
19 See http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/19382.aspx (visited 16 May 2014).
20 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s 167(6).
21 Criminal Justice Act 1982, s 37; Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s 167.
185
however, stakeholders have told us that the actual penalty imposed for touting is
usually in the range of £200 to £300. Transport for London has reported that in
London the average penalty handed down in the magistrates’ courts at the time
was £260.22 If a tout stands to make twice as much as this over the course of an
evening, the risk of being caught and faced with such a level of fine is a poor
deterrent.
13.22 Suggestions for stronger penalties included much higher fines (in the region
of thousands rather than hundreds of pounds), suspension or revocation of
licences (for touting of licensed vehicles),23 imprisonment of offenders,
impounding of vehicles by local authorities or seizure of vehicles by police, use of
fixed penalty notices and escalating penalties for repeat offenders.
13.23 Another very popular suggestion was to increase public awareness of
the dangers of touting, how to identify unlicensed vehicles and how to
book private hire vehicles legally. Linked to this was the idea that signage on all
licensed vehicles should be very clear, and in particular should make it possible
to distinguish between taxis and private hire vehicles and make it obvious that
the latter have to be pre-booked. Sylvia Oates, from Nottingham’s Business
Improvement District, suggested the creation of a national helpline which people
could call to report touts.
13.24 Some consultees suggested that the current definition of the offence of touting
is itself a problem. City of York Council said “it is difficult for licensing authorities
to take legal action therefore clearer legislation is required regarding this
offence.”
13.25 A number of consultees suggested that operators should be pursued for
touting offences committed by their drivers or agents. The Welsh Local
Authorities supported this because:
Operators are less ephemeral than the people who they
employ to stand outside venues and they have more to lose
in terms of their licences, as against touts who will not have a
licence and who are probably paid on a casual basis.
13.26 Some consultees thought that enforcement of the law on touting should
take place at a national level. For example, the United Cabbies Group suggested
that “central funding of a nationwide enforcement body should be implemented.”
13.27 There was significant disagreement amongst consultees regarding the desirability
of having so-called “satellite” booking offices, as permitted by Transport for
22 This comprised a fine for the offence plus an extra fine for having no insurance, which is
usually prosecuted at the same time as the touting offence. Indeed, lack of insurance is
often the primary means of recourse against a tout, as this can give rise to points
being imposed on their driving licence. See also Sentencing Guidelines Council,
Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines, p 98, available at
http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/MCSG_(web)_-_April_2014.pdf (last visited
19 May 2014). The starting point for setting fines is based on varying proportions of the
offender’s weekly income (the relevant weekly income is deemed to be at least £110).
23 For example Cab Enforcement Unit recommended that the Public Carriage Office (now
London Taxi and Private Hire) should use their powers to revoke driver licences after three
convictions for touting, following similar approaches in Birmingham and Leeds.
186
London. Bedford Borough Council suggested that touting should be authorised as
part of operator licensing, without any qualification as to a specific venue.
Sheffield City Council suggested that local authorities should run a system of
issuing licences to “booking agents” who could then carry out touting-type
activities. The Licensed Private Hire Car Association felt that:
Licensed PHV bookers, affiliated to Licensed Offices and specifically
defined premises would greatly enhance public safety and deter touts.
The Licensed Private Hire Car Association also favoured the use of taxi
marshals, whose role is to administer taxi ranks and match up late-night
passengers with drivers who are heading home the same way.
13.28 On the other hand, many consultees expressed strong disagreement with such
approaches. One of these was the United Cabbies Group, who argued that the
licensing of satellite booking offices in London has resulted in many problems.
The group reported that these venues are no longer required to have planning
permission and that “clipboard johnnies” (booking agents) frequently try to drum
up business outside on the street, which is illegal. They also said that the system
creates a monopoly at venues where it is used, therefore reducing the amount of
business available to taxi drivers in the area. We are aware that other areas
experience similar problems, for example Manchester.
Discussion
13.29 As can be seen from the range of comments discussed above, touting is
a multifaceted and controversial issue which presents many different
problems. However, much depends upon the individual response of local
authorities and police to the problems that arise in their areas, particularly as
regards enforcement and the resources available for it.
13.30 Our recommendations elsewhere in this report cover important reforms that can
help underpin more incisive enforcement action against touts, including:
(1) new impounding powers;24
(2) powers for licensing officers to move licensed vehicles on;25
(3) a new offence of accepting a there-and-then hiring unless a local taxi
driver.26
13.31 We think that the broad package of reforms noted above, alongside the changes
we propose below, can significantly enhance enforcement without the need to set
up a specific national body, which in any event, would likely be too resource
intensive to be practicable.
24 See from para 13.41 below.
25 See Recommendation 9 and discussion in para 3.68 above.
26 See Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 6, recommendation 10 and
discussion from para 3.71 above.
187
The scope of touting
13.32 Unlike touting in respect of other trades, there is a strong link between hire
vehicle touting and other crimes, justifying the retention of the current broad
scope of the offence. We note that there are already a number of statutory
exemptions from touting – for example, taxi sharing schemes – and these have
not caused particular problems.27 A narrower definition of touting could
undermine the ability of the police and licensing officers to protect the public
adequately. We therefore do not recommend, with one exception discussed
below, any changes to the breadth of the touting offence.28
13.33 In one respect, it appears that the current broad definition of touting can hamper
otherwise legitimate ways of working by licensed operators working in
compliance with local conditions set by their licensing authority. We think that the
activities of satellite booking offices working with licensed private hire vehicles, or
indeed, taxis, can be a useful tool in addressing safety problems at night. To this
end, our draft Bill provides that licensing authorities should have the power, within
their licensing area, to designate certain places where bookings may be solicited
in accordance with such conditions as they may prescribe.29 These may, for
example, specify only certain approved dispatchers, or prescribe the way
passengers may be approached and the way bookings should be made . Satellite
offices, as operated in London, would be allowed to continue.
Recommendation 71
The offence of touting should be retained. It should continue
to be an offence of broad application which extends to all
persons, whether licensed or unlicensed.
Recommendation 72
We recommend that there should be a new defence to touting,
where the solicitation is in respect of a licensed taxi or private
hire vehicle, if the soliciting occurs in a place which has been
designated by that licensing authority for that purpose, and that
conditions as may be specified by the licensing authority have
been complied with.
13.34 This recommendation is given effect by clause 70 of our draft Bill.
Sentencing guidelines for touting
13.35 We noted stakeholders’ dissatisfaction with the low penalties typically imposed
upon touts. We recommend increasing the penalty for touting to an unlimited fine
to reflect the seriousness of the offence.30 However, stakeholders told us that it
27 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, s 167(3).
28 We do, however, recommend its inclusion within the same statute as the taxi and private
hire licensing framework; this is done by our draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill,
clause 70.
29 See Clause 70(5) of our draft Bill.
30 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Services Bill, clause 70(9). Touting is currently punishable with
up to a level 4 fine, of £2,500.
188
was a significant problem that magistrates routinely impose much lower penalties
which provide little or no deterrent. It therefore appears that sentencing
guidelines could be revised to reflect better the rationale of this offence.31
13.36 We noted that the association with the risk of offences against passengers,
particularly sexual assault, is a major part of the concerns surrounding touting. In
2003 there were an estimated 18 sexual assaults a month in London involving
touted vehicles. The Metropolitan Police Sapphire Unit (targeting sexual assaults)
noted that sexual predators were using touting as a route to identify and pursue
victims.32 The Safer Travel at Night initiative33 and the establishment of a
specialist Cab Enforcement Unit in 2003 were key initiatives adopted by the
Metropolitan Police and Transport for London to tackle touting.34 The figures for
2013/14 indicate that there have been 71 cab-related sexual offences, 24 per
cent lower compared with the same period the previous year. London has 68
dedicated cab enforcement officers, and Transport for London contributes to the
funding of 1,800 uniformed officers. In London, licensed private hire drivers
convicted of touting lose their private hire driver’s licence for a minimum of one
year. More than 1,000 drivers have had their licences revoked.35
13.37 Evidence from recent Freedom of Information requests to police forces across
England and Wales found the number of taxi and private hire related assaults
remained alarmingly high.36
13.38 Current sentencing guidelines on touting refer to several factors impacting on
higher culpability and degree of harm but do not reflect the link between touting
and sexual offences:
FACTORS INDICATING HIGHER CULPABILITY
1. Commercial business/large scale operation
2. No insurance/invalid insurance
3. No driving licence and/or no MOT
31 See Sentencing Guidelines Council, Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines, p 98,
available at http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/MCSG_(web)_-_April_2014.pdf
(last visited 16 May 2014).
32 By 2008, the reported number of cab-related sexual offences fell to seven each month.
See Transport for London, Surface Transport Panel, Tackling Taxi Touting (24 February,
2009), para 23, see http://beta.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/Item13-Tackling-TaxiTouting.pdf (last visited 16 May 2014).
33 Safer Travel at Night was set up in 2002, and is an ongoing initiative involving the Greater
London Authority, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police.
34 Transport Committee of the London Assembly, Tackling taxi touting in London (March
2008) p 4, see http://legacy.london.gov.uk/assembly/reports/transport/taxi-touting.rtf (last
visited 19 May 2014).
35 See http://www.tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2014/january/more-than-170-
drivers-arrested-as-part-of-illegal-cab-touting-crackdown (last visited 16 May 2014).
36 The evidence was collated and presented by the National Private Hire Association at a
meeting held at New Scotland Yard on 12 September 2012. Participants included the
Association of Chief Police Officers, the Department for Transport and the Law
Commission. See also https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/sex_attacks_2 (last
visited 16 May 2014).
189
4. Vehicle not roadworthy
FACTORS INDICATING GREATER DEGREE OF HARM
1. Deliberately diverting trade from taxi rank
2. PHV licence had been refused/offender ineligible for
licence
FACTOR INDICATING LOWER CULPABILITY
Providing a service when no licensed taxi available37
13.39 We accept that the court can only sentence for the offence before them – if the
offender has not been convicted of a sexual assault then the court cannot take
into account the fact that others have used their position, holding themselves out
as being a taxi or private hire driver, to commit a sexual offence. However, the
recently issued Sexual Offences Guideline (in force since 1 April 2014) allows the
court to increase the culpability level of an offender convicted of a sexual offence
in this situation through the use of the higher culpability factor “abuse of trust”.38
The Sentencing Council’s approach in all other guidelines has been to identify a
“vulnerable victim” as a harm factor and leave it to the discretion of the court, on
the facts of the case before them, to identify the nature of the vulnerability. This
could include for example whether the passenger targeted was intoxicated or a
child.
13.40 We recommend that the Sentencing Council consider revising the magistrates’
courts sentencing guidelines in respect of touting as part of its next work plan,
such that the where the victim is particularly vulnerable due to personal
circumstances that may be considered as a factor relevant to the degree of
harm.39
Recommendation 73
We recommend that the Sentencing Council consider amending
the Magistrate’s Court Sentencing Guidelines in respect of taxi
touting to take into account the vulnerability of the persons
solicited as a relevant factor in sentencing.
37 Sentencing Guidelines Council, Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines, p 98, available
at http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/MCSG_(web)_-_April_2014.pdf (last
visited 16 May 2014).
38 http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/Final_Sexual_Offences_Definitive_Guideline
content_(web).pdf (last visited 16 May 2014).
39 We would like to thank the Chief Executive of the Sentencing Council, Michelle Crotty, for
her contribution to this recommendation. The Sentencing Council agrees the order of
guidelines to be included in its work programme based on a number of criteria. Particular
weight is given to the volume of a particular type of offence coming through the courts (for
example the high volume of violence against the person offences led to assault being
produced as the Council’s first guideline). The Council’s work plan currently extends to
2017, so that is the earliest point at which our proposed amendment may be considered.
Inclusion at that point would depend upon both the Council’s view on the seriousness of
touting and on what other offences needed either new or revised guidelines.
190
POWERS TO IMPOUND VEHICLES
13.41 In our consultation paper, we considered how the current range of licensing
authority powers could be enhanced to make enforcement easier and more
effective. We asked whether licensing authorities should be given powers to
impound vehicles used in breach of taxi and private hire rules.40 We suggested
these powers could be modelled on the public service and heavy goods vehicle
impounding regimes.41 The police also have powers to seize vehicles used
without insurance.42 This power is used to tackle touting, as any hire and reward
insurance is invalidated if the driver touts.43
Consultation
13.42 The idea of introducing powers to impound vehicles was very popular. Those in
favour of new powers felt that the powers would make enforcement
more effective by depriving the driver of the tool needed to break the law. The
United Cabbies Group felt that impounding vehicles would be “the only real
deterrent.”
13.43 However, many consultees who agreed also raised practical issues, including
whether it would be safe for licensing officers to exercise such powers.
Stakeholders also thought that it might be difficult for licensing officers to
order drivers to vacate their vehicles or prevent them from leaving.
13.44 Consultees were also concerned that individual licensing authorities would lack
the resources to fund the impounding of vehicles and space in which to store
them. Questions were also raised as to whether seized vehicles would
be destroyed or sold, and how this would be funded.
13.45 Some consultees felt that impounding would only be justified for very serious
cases. These consultees often emphasised the importance of the vehicle for the
driver’s livelihood. For example, the Local Government Association said:
Any use of a new power to impound vehicles would need to be
used as a last resort for persistent offences, as to do otherwise
would materially affect the right of the driver to earn a living. It is
difficult to see what impact this would have in addition to the
ability to review and revoke the licence.
13.46 A number of consultees felt that seizure should remain exclusively a police
power, but should be extended to enable the police to act on breaches of taxi and
private hire licensing laws as well as, for example, lack of insurance. For
40 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, question 66.
41 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, para 19.9.
42 Public hire insurance policies are invalidated where a vehicle is used to illegally ply for hire
or in connection with touting. See for example, in respect of plying for hire, Telford and
Wrekin Borough Council v Ahmed and Others [2006] EWHC 1748 (Admin); [2006] All ER
(D) 222 (Jun) and Road Traffic Act 1988, ss 163 to 165A.
43 See the evidence considered by the Transport Select Committee, available at
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmtran/writev/taxi/m46.htm
(last visited 16 May 2014).
191
example, Transport for London favoured extending police powers to enable them
to impound “vehicles where the driver is touting or illegally plying for hire.”
13.47 A significant minority of consultees disagreed with any new powers to
impound vehicles, describing the idea as “draconian” and suggesting that its
practical drawbacks would outweigh any likely benefits.
Discussion
13.48 There was strong support among stakeholders for extending the use of
impounding powers to licensing officers acting independently of police officers.
Our discussions with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency confirmed the
benefits of this approach in connection with their experience with the impounding
regimes that apply to public service and heavy goods vehicles. Since the
introduction of these powers the number of illegally operated vehicles has fallen,
and there has been an increase in the number of licence applications to Traffic
Commissioners.
13.49 On the other hand, impounding is a very severe penalty, and one that is applied
before or as an alternative to a criminal conviction. The vehicle owner may
deprived of their livelihood for a significant period before establishing whether
they are entitled to recover their vehicle.44 In practice, the Driver and Vehicle
Standards Agency only use their impounding powers against known, persistent
offenders. Impounding should therefore be limited to only the most serious
offences.
13.50 On balance, we think impounding can provide a very valuable enforcement tool,
but that it should only apply in respect of vehicles used in connection with
touting.45 The discretionary power to impound created by clause 50 of our draft
Bill is available in respect of would cover both licensed taxi and private hire
vehicles, and completely unlicensed vehicles;, we envisage that it would be used
in the more serious cases.
13.51 The draft Bill therefore introduces powers for accredited licensing authority
stopping officers to impound vehicles used in connection with touting based on
the model provided by the public service and heavy goods vehicle impounding
regime.46
13.52 Powers under this legislation are available to authorised officers of the Driver and
Vehicle Standards Agency. Under the Public Service Vehicles (Enforcement
44 We discuss the human rights implications of interfering with the vehicle owner’s property
rights below.
45 In some respects, the basis for seizing vehicles under our recommendations is broader
than the “no insurance” basis under section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, as that
refers to the vehicle being “driven”, such that the police need to wait until the passenger is
inside the vehicle. Our recommendations instead allow licensing officers to impound
vehicles where these are used in connection with touting, which allows earlier intervention.
See Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 50.
46 In respect of public service vehicles, see Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, s 12A and
Schedule 2A and the Public Service Vehicles (Enforcement Powers) Regulations 2009, SI
2009 No 1964. In respect of heavy goods vehicles, see Goods Vehicles (Licensing of
Operators) Act 1995, s 2A and Schedule 1A and the Goods Vehicles (Enforcement
Powers) Regulations 2001, SI 2001 No 3981.
192
Powers) Regulations 2009, once the vehicle has been detained, it can be
immobilised and removed.47 Unless the vehicle has been detained in error,48 the
owner must apply to the Traffic Commissioners to have the vehicle returned.49 If
this is not done by a specific date, or if the Traffic Commissioner determines that
the grounds for the return of the vehicle have not been satisfied,50 the vehicle can
be sold or destroyed.51 Proceeds of sale are used to offset enforcement costs.52
13.53 The impounding scheme for taxi and private hire vehicles in the draft Bill is based
on the above impounding provisions. Under our draft Bill, regulations may make
provision for the removal and retention of vehicles and their release and disposal,
including a right of appeal to a magistrates’ court.53
13.54 Licensing authorities will have discretion as to whether to set up impounding
schemes in their area. We appreciate that some licensing authorities may lack
the resources to impound vehicles, and in some areas these serious offences are
rare; impounding should be an optional tool which licensing authorities could
choose to employ.
13.55 In areas that choose to introduce a local impounding scheme, licensing officers
involved in these operations would need special training and accreditation,
as with the power to stop vehicles, and to move vehicles on. We note that many
authorities already have car pounds to store vehicles impounded in connection
with parking contraventions and other road traffic offences, so that the
infrastructure would already be in place for impounding vehicles for breaches of
taxi and private hire law.
13.56 We have considered the human rights implications of this policy and believe
Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights is potentially
engaged, to the extent that the vehicle owner or other interested party may be
deprived of their possessions. Deprivation must be in the public interest and
subject to conditions provided by law. Article 1 is also without prejudice to the
right of a state to secure the payment of penalties. It is in the public interest to
deter touting.
13.57 Under the draft Bill, the power to impound for touting is conditional upon the
Secretary of State having made regulations under clause 51. The Schedule to the
Bill stipulates some minimum requirements. The owner of the vehicle54 must be
47 Goods Vehicles (Enforcement Powers) Regulations 2001, SI 2001 No 3981, reg 5.
48 Goods Vehicles (Enforcement Powers) Regulations 2001, SI 2001 No 3981, reg 4 (as
substituted by SI 2009/1965, regs 2 and 3).
49 Goods Vehicles (Enforcement Powers) Regulations 2001, SI 2001 No 3981, reg 10.
50 Good Vehicles (Enforcement Powers) Regulations 2001, SI 2001 No 3981, reg 4(3).
51 Goods Vehicles (Enforcement Powers) Regulations 2001, SI 2001 No 3981, reg 15.
52 Goods Vehicles (Enforcement Powers) Regulations 2001, SI 2001 No 3981, reg 18.
53 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 51, and Schedule (Vehicles detained
under section 50: supplementary provisions) para 10.
54 The draft Bill refers to an “eligible person” which includes persons other than the owner,
and extends to the registered keeper, and taxi or private hire vehicle licence holder. See
clause 6(2) of the Schedule.
193
able recover the vehicle on at least any of the following grounds:55
(a) that, at the time the vehicle was detained, the vehicle was not
being, had not been and was not about to be used in connection with
touting;
(b) that, although at the time the vehicle was detained it was being,
had been or was about to be used in connection with touting, the
owner did not know that it was being, or had been so used;
(c) that, although knowing at the time the vehicle was detained that it
was being, had been or was about to be used in contravention of the
relevant provisions, the owner –
(i) had taken steps with a view to preventing that use, and
(ii) has taken steps with a view to preventing any further such
use.
13.58 The vehicle owner must have a right to apply for the return of the vehicle and a
further right of appeal to the magistrates’ court.56 The Secretary of State in
making the regulations and the licensing authority in impounding the vehicle will
in any event be subject to the Human Rights Act 1998.
13.59 Finally, we agree with Transport for London’s view that greater use of Deprivation
Orders under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 could be
beneficial. Under this power a court can order that a person be deprived of any
property which has been lawfully seized from them or which was in their
possession at the time at which they were apprehended or summons issued.57
The convicted person can only be deprived of property which was used for the
purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of the offence, or which they
intended to use for that purpose.58
Recommendation 74
We recommend that licensing authorities should have the power
to impound vehicles used in connection with touting.
FIXED PENALTY SCHEMES
13.60 Fixed penalty notices can currently be given for some road traffic
offences.59 Notices may be given on the spot by a constable in uniform or a
vehicle examiner who has reason to believe that someone is committing, or has
committed, a fixed penalty offence.60 The recipient can choose to pay the fine or
55 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, Schedule, para 7(3).
56 See Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, Schedule, para 10.
57 Power of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, s 143(1)(a) and (b).
58 Power of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, s 143(1)(a) and (b).
59 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, s 51 and Sch 3.
60 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, s 54. For the definition of a vehicle examiner see Road
Traffic Act 1988, s 66A.
194
have the matter heard in court. Fixed penalty schemes may also be enforced
through licensing conditions. Some breaches of the public service vehicle or
goods vehicle licensing requirements may lead to such penalties;61 and in respect
of taxi and private services legislation, authorised officers in London have been
given the power to issue fixed penalty notices for certain relatively minor
offences, although these provisions are not yet in force.62
13.61 In our consultation paper, we suggested introducing fixed penalty notices for
some taxi and private hire offences.63
Consultation
13.62 A majority of respondents agreed with this idea. Many regulators said that they
would welcome the introduction of such schemes as a valuable way of enabling
them to deal quickly and easily with common and “routine” breaches of taxi and
private hire law.
13.63 Some consultees, including Oldham Metropolitan Borough Taxi
Owners Association, thought that fixed penalties should also be available for
serious offences such as touting, as this would allow for effective enforcement
and deterrence. However, many other consultees felt that fixed penalties would
only be appropriate for minor offences, as they were concerned that fixed
penalties would not be a sufficient deterrent for more serious and harmful
behaviour.
13.64 Many consultees also felt that fixed penalties would only be appropriate
where the behaviour in question could be objectively shown to have taken place.
The Institute of Licensing made the following comments:
13.65 We are in favour of developing fixed penalty schemes for licensing authorities to
use for breaching taxi and private hire licensing rules. Prosecution is time
consuming and costly. We agree that fixed penalties are only appropriate in very
clear cut cases, such as not wearing a badge or not displaying the correct licence
plates or signs or ranking inappropriately.
13.66 Transport for London expressed concern that the system might not be selffunding, particularly if a large number of drivers chose the option of having a
hearing rather than accepting the penalty. Going to court would be expensive and
so would not cover the costs of pursuing the relatively minor offences to which
fixed penalties would apply.
13.67 A significant minority of consultees were opposed to the introduction of fixed
penalty schemes of any kind. They tended to fear that the schemes would be
abused by licensing authorities for commercial gain, or that the penalties would
be seen as a “price worth paying” by offenders.
61 Fixed Penalty Offences Order 2009, SI 2009 No 483.
62 Transport for London Act 2008, ss 17 to 21.
63 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, question 67.
195
Discussion
13.68 Our view is that fixed penalties are a useful and cost effective enforcement
tool against minor offences where evidence of commission of the offence is
relatively clear. In Chapter 6 we recommended that the Secretary of State have
power to designate particular licence conditions as ones whose breach is also a
criminal offence. We further recommend that the Secretary of State also have
power to specify offences under our draft Bill or under criminally enforceable
licence conditions as fixed penalty offences.
13.69 Fixed penalties would not be appropriate for more serious offences, or those
whose commission is more difficult to prove. The existing, uncommenced
legislation indicates that appropriate offences for fixed penalties might include
drivers failing to wear their badge, or to produce their licence, or taxis using ranks
or accepting hails outside their licensing area or zone, carrying an excessive
number of passengers or failing to attend their vehicle at a taxi rank.64
13.70 We do not agree that most of those issued with a fixed penalty notice would opt
for a court hearing; if the evidence was strong we expect that most would opt to
pay the fine rather than risk a more severe penalty and extra costs. Together with
powers to impound vehicles, the introduction of fixed penalty offences in taxi and
private hire regulation could help to focus and strengthen enforcement.
Recommendation 75
Fixed penalties should be among the sanctions available in
respect of minor criminal offences under taxi and private hire
legislation.
13.71 This recommendation is given effect by clause 61 of our draft Bill.
IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION
13.72 Generally, decisions to suspend or revoke taxi and private hire driver licences do
not take effect until the 21 day period for appeal against the decision has expired.
If an appeal is lodged, the suspension or revocation will not take effect until its
dismissal by the magistrates’ court, or the Crown Court if a further appeal is
brought.65 This could be a considerable length of time.
13.73 In England and Wales, immediate suspension or revocation is possible if there is
an immediate risk to public safety, but in respect of taxi and private hire driver
licences only.66 In London immediate suspension is not limited to driver licences;
and can also apply in respect of operator and vehicle licences.67
64 These offences are listed in schedule 1 of the Transport for London Act 2008, whose
provisions are not in force at the time of writing.
65 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 77(2). In London, see Private
Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, ss17 and 26. In respect of London taxis the suspensory
power under s 17(9) of the Transport Act 1985 is discretionary.
66 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 61 (2A and 2B).
67 See Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, ss 17 and 26. In respect of London taxis the
suspensory power under s 17(9) of the Transport Act 1985 is discretionary.
196

We recommend extending the power to suspend licences
immediately on grounds of public safety to all licence types, in
line with the current position in London.
13.74 This is given effect by clauses 54(5) and 57(1) of our draft Bill.
CROSS-BORDER ENFORCEMENT POWERS
13.75 Under the current law, enforcement officers are only able to enforce against
licences issued by their own licensing authority.68 If a driver from a neighbouring
area commits an offence, licensing officers are unable to take any action in
respect of the offender’s licence. Unless that licensing authority has delegated
powers from the area in which the offender was licensed,69 action is only possible
in respect of criminal offences, by the expensive and time-consuming route of a
criminal prosecution.
13.76 In our consultation paper, we proposed that licensing authorities should have
greater powers to enforce against vehicles, drivers and operators licensed by
other licensing authorities. We suggested this should cover on-the-spot
enforcement action as well as initiating suspension or revocation of licence.70
13.77 Our recommendations to liberalise existing constraints on cross-border working
for private hire services make it all the more important to have robust crossborder enforcement measures.71
Consultation
13.78 A large majority of consultees agreed with the proposal. Many of those who
agreed, for example the National Association of Licensing Enforcement Officers,
supported our view that such powers would be necessary to ensure that our
proposed liberalisation of cross-border working could function successfully; many
also emphasised that cross-border issues are already a problem and that
mechanisms for dealing with this are urgently required.
68 See, in England and Wales (outside London), the Local Government (Miscellaneous
Provisions) Act 1976, s 80(2); and Town Police Clauses Act 1847, references to the
“prescribed distance” and references to the powers of commissioners (the licensing
officers) only applying in respect the relevant area. In London, see Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, Transport for London’s powers to suspend or revoke licences only
exists in respect of London licences (s16); and London Hackney Carriage Act 1843, s 25
(power to suspend or revoke licences issued under the provisions of the same Act, which
only extends to Greater London). A leading case discussing cross-border enforcement
problems is R (on the application of Newcastle City Council) v Berwick-upon-Tweed
Borough Council [ 2008] EWCH 2369 (Admin).
69 For example the arrangements in Merseyside, which Unite the Union highlighted as an
example of good practice, where five licensing authorities have agreed a concordat that
they could enforce against all the vehicles and drivers licensed by any of those five
licensing authorities. A similar arrangement exists between Chiltern District Council and
South Bucks District Council.
70 Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, provisional proposal 68.
71 See from para 13.85 below.
197
13.79 Several consultees raised the issue of funding for cross-border
enforcement. Some, including taxi driver Sue Burridge, were against extending
cross-border enforcement because they were concerned that this would increase
licensing fees in their own area. However, others thought that funding for these
activities could be raised from fining out-of-area vehicles: this was the view of N J
W Horler, a private hire operator, and John Murphy, managing director of
an executive and luxury chauffeur car company.
Discussion
13.80 We believe that licensing officers should be able to take enforcement action
against vehicles, drivers and operators regardless of which licensing authority
issued the licence.
13.81 The introduction of national standards will mean that, for the first time, all taxi and
private hire services will be subject to a common set of rules.72 Cross-border
enforcement powers are critical in respect of enforcing private hire licensees’
obligations, as licensees will no longer be restricted to working only with
operators and vehicles from their same licensing area. National standards will
comprise the full set of obligations to which private hire service providers would
be subject, and these should be fully enforceable by licensing officers from any
licensing area.
13.82 In respect of taxis, licensing officers should be able to enforce the minimum
national standards against vehicles and drivers from any licensing area.
Licensing officers would, however, only be able to enforce local taxi conditions
(which may differ from national standards) against licensees from their own area,
unless they had express delegated powers from the licensing authority which
issued the relevant taxi licence.
13.83 The licensing authority that originally issued the licence must continue to have
primary responsibility in respect of suspensions and revocations. We refer to this
authority as the licensee’s “home licensing authority”. Without prejudice to the
ability to prosecute licensing offences, the draft Bill gives licensing officers the
following powers in respect of any vehicle, operator or driver licence issued in
England and Wales:
(1) the ability to conduct inspections and request information;73
(2) in respect of suspensions and revocations, the ability to suspend licences
with immediate effect where there is a risk to public safety,74 and to
initiate a formal procedure in respect of enforcing conditions that do not
present an immediate public safety risk (and which could lead to the
revocation of a licence);75 and
(3) the ability to stop licensed vehicles, impound vehicles in cases of touting
72 Supplemented, in the case of taxis only, by local rules.
73 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 47 and 48.
74 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 57.
75 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 56 and 58-60.
198
and issue fixed penalty notices.76
13.84 We discuss the procedures to give effect to the above sanctions below.
Recommendation 77
Licensing officers should be able to take non-criminal
enforcement action against vehicles, drivers and operators,
licensed outside their licensing area.
CROSS-BORDER ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURES
13.85 In our consultation paper we noted that whilst criminal prosecutions can be
brought anywhere and by any licensing authority, non-criminal sanctions such as
revoking a licence are frequently the most effective. Under the current licensing
framework only the home licensing authority has the power to take such action.
13.86 We suggested that reform could take one of three forms:
(1) informal cooperation between licensing authorities;
(2) formal procedures for cross-border cooperation, including a power for the
licensing authority in whose area the infraction occurred to propose an
appropriate sanction to the home authority as well as to suspend a
licence temporarily; and
(3) full powers for a licensing authority in whose area an infraction occurs to
suspend and to revoke licences, whether issued in their own or another
licensing area.
13.87 We provisionally favoured option two as striking an appropriate balance between
local licensing and the need for effective cross-border deterrence. We suggested
that appeals should always be heard in the offender’s home licensing authority.77
Consultation
13.88 This suggestion proved controversial, but a majority of consultees were in favour.
13.89 Our favoured option of introducing formal procedures for crossborder cooperation, but stopping short of allowing suspension or revocation of
licences by a local authority other than the issuing authority, proved popular.
For example, Maidstone Borough Council commented that:
[This option] brings an element of formality to the system and also
requires other licensing authorities to take action.
13.90 A number of consultees commented that in order for the system to be
workable, local authorities would need to have ways of sharing data. For
example, Rushmoor Borough Council said that:
76 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses, 49-50 and 61-62.
77 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, question 69.
199
A national database of licence holders would make this far
more workable, and there needs to be something in law which
allows authorities to freely share information amongst each other.
13.91 However, some consultees either disagreed with the proposal outright, or felt
that the practical drawbacks would outweigh any potential benefits. Transport
for London raised a number of concerns in this regard. It felt that the
proposed system for formal cooperation would be “ineffective and bureaucratic”,
as they:
Would be required to write recommendations to the
licensing authorities from where these vehicles were licensed, and
also be required to consider and carry out appropriate sanctions
where TfL received recommendations from other licensing
authorities.
13.92 Daventry District Council raised similar concerns:
As there is no proposal for a central register of licences, there will
be practical difficulties establishing where a driver is
licensed/registered. Additional conditions for taxis can be applied by
Councils where there will not be uniform conditions in place. There
will be an issue as to one Council’s standing to prosecute for another,
meaning delegations for each authority. These issues would be better
addressed by a national Enforcement Agency, for example [the
Vehicle and Operators Standards Agency].
13.93 Finally, we also received evidence in respect of voluntary joint enforcement
arrangements undertaken by neighbouring licensing authorities and sometimes
alongside the police.78 We heard an example of licensing officers from an area
“touring” outside the area in order to carry out enforcement activities against
vehicles licensed in that area but working outside it.79
Discussion
13.94 On balance, we favour the introduction of formal procedures for cross-border
collaboration on the suspension and revocation of licences. It remains our view
that revocation and suspension of licences must remain the prerogative of the
authority which issued the licence. That “home” authority will have more
knowledge about its licence holders and a better understanding of their history,
which may be relevant to the severity of any penalty imposed. However, licensing
officers from other areas should have the power to initiate a procedure
recommending licensing sanctions, including revocation of licence, and have the
ability to suspend licences if there is an immediate threat to public safety.
78 See the Local Government Regulation, Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing
Standardised Conditions Template (version updated 09.10), para 15.
79 We understand this was the approach taken by Berwick; given the large number of
vehicles licensed there that were working outside the licensing area.
200
Cross-border enforcement of national standards80
13.95 Licensing officers finding a breach of national standards, other than in situations
warranting immediate suspension or revocation (discussed immediately below)
should be able to initiate the following cross-border procedure:
(1) upon notice to the licensee and home licensing authority within 21 days
of the infraction, the licensing authority could recommend an appropriate
sanction; and
(2) issuing such a notice would in turn trigger an obligation on the receiving
(home) licensing authority either to impose the sanction (giving reasons)
or explain its reasons for not doing so in writing (copied to the licensee)
within 21 days.
Accelerated cross-border procedure where there is a risk to public safety
13.96 Where there is an immediate risk to public safety, licensing officers should also
have immediate powers to suspend licences issued elsewhere. We suggest that
where a cross-border authority takes immediate enforcement action based on an
immediate risk to public safety, that authority should be under a duty to notify the
home licensing authority within a shorter period than under the standard
procedure discussed above, 14 days instead of 21.81
13.97 The home licensing authority should have the power to reverse the decision to
suspend the licence, or to confirm it, within a further 14 days, notifying the
enforcing licensing authority and licensee, and providing reasons for its
decision.82
Recommendation 78
We recommend that powers to revoke a licence should be
available only to the licensing authority which issued that
licence. However, enforcement officers in another area should
have the power to:
(a) suspend a licence when they consider this to be
necessary in the interests of public safety; and
(b) make recommendations to the home licensing authority
as to appropriate sanctions, to which the home authority
must have regard.
13.98 These recommendations are given effect by clauses 55 to 60 of our draft Bill.
80 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clauses 55 to 60.
81 The suspension, and consequently its notification to the licensee, would be immediate.
82 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 58.
201
CHAPTER 14
HEARINGS AND APPEALS
INTRODUCTION
14.1 In this Chapter we make recommendations for reform of the systems of
adjudication in taxi and private hire law. When we talk about appeals, we are
concerned with the mechanism for challenging decisions taken by licensing
authorities in relation to an individual application or licence. In this chapter we
also look at the way in which a challenge (“judicial review”) might be made to
national standards or a local authority’s taxi conditions more generally.
14.2 The current framework for hearings and appeals is riddled with inconsistencies
and complexity. Similar situations are covered by entirely different provisions in
different statutes. For example, due to an historical anomaly, taxi vehicle owners
in England and Wales outside London have a right of appeal directly to the
Crown Court, whereas private hire vehicle owners can only appeal to the
magistrates’ court in the first instance.1

14.3 Our key recommendations reflect the following policies:
(1) standardising and removing inconsistencies in the procedure for statutory
appeals across England and Wales including London, and for all types of
licence;
(2) limiting standing to bring appeals to the applicant or licence-holder;
(3) adopting the London model, whereby applicants can require the licensing
authority to reconsider the original decision, as a first stage in the
statutory appeal process. This would take place prior to appeal to the
magistrates’ court, which would be retained. There should then be a
further right of appeal to the Crown Court.
(4) the introduction of a local judicial review procedure for challenging local
taxi conditions.
14.4 Overall, our recommendations aim at simplification with few changes to the
substantive rules.
WHO CAN APPEAL
14.5 We provisionally proposed that only the applicant or licence holder should
be able to appeal against a decision to refuse to grant, renew, suspend or revoke
a taxi or private hire licence.2 Currently, there are variations as to who
1
For taxis, see Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907, s 7; for private hire vehicles, see
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s48(7). The situation again differs
in London, where both categories of proprietor must first appeal to the magistrates’ court
for taxis, see Transport Act 1985, s 17; for private hire vehicles, see Private Hire Vehicles
(London) Act 1998, s 7(7).
2
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission Consultation
Paper No 203, provisional proposal 70.
202
can challenge the decision of a licensing authority. In England and Wales
(excluding London), the right to challenge a refusal to grant a vehicle or driver’s
licence or to challenge the conditions attached to a vehicle licence broadly lies
with “any person aggrieved”.3
By contrast, the right to appeal against an
operator’s licence anywhere in England and Wales, or in London against a
refusal to grant a vehicle or driver’s licence or against the conditions attached to
the vehicle’s licence, are limited to the aggrieved applicant.4
Consultation
14.6 This was a popular proposal among a significant majority of respondents. Several
consultees who agreed with the proposal said that limiting standing to
appeal against licensing decisions to the applicant or licence holder would be
appropriate because challenges to an overall policy could still be brought by way
of judicial review, which is available to a wider category of claimants with a
“sufficient interest”.
14.7 Sheffield City Council, which also agreed with the proposal, said that the
current system, which could result in “literally any citizen of the city making an
appeal against a decision”, had little practical use and should be reformed.
14.8 However, a number of consultees disagreed with the proposal, and some of
them made alternative suggestions. The Local Government Association felt
that “residents or businesses may wish to make representations” on matters
that “materially affect public safety”, particularly concerning whether a person
meets the “fit and proper” standard. East Northamptonshire Council thought that
other interested parties, such as complainants and police, should also have the
right to appeal against decisions, while Milton Keynes Council wanted to give that
right to “anyone with a justifiable concern”.
Discussion
14.9 We maintain our provisional proposal. We regard the current standing provisions
as too wide, and not of practical benefit; it is unlikely that members of the public
would wish to bring appeals or that they would have good reason for doing so. A
method for interested persons to oppose a particular policy already exists through
judicial review. We propose simplifying this process, as discussed further below.5
Recommendation 79
The right to appeal against refusals to grant or renew taxi and
private hire licences or to suspend or revoke them should be
limited to the applicant or licence holder.
14.10 This is given effect by clause 64(1) of our draft Bill.
3
For example, see Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss48(7), 52 and
59(2).
4
For example, see Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, ss 55 and 62;
Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, ss 3(7) and 25(6).
5
Our draft Bill provides that an individual can appeal a decision on local taxi conditions to
the County Court, where the County Court considers them to have sufficient interest in the
decision: draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 65(2)(b).
203
A DUTY OF THE LICENSING AUTHORITY TO RECONSIDER
14.11 In our consultation paper we suggested that the first stage of any appeal
should be internal reconsideration of the decision by the licensing authority.6 This
is currently the case in London.7
The decision of the review panel should then
be capable of being challenged in the magistrates’ court.
14.12 As we discussed in the consultation paper, we find reconsideration by
the licensing authority an attractive option. It is a cheaper and easier mechanism
for obtaining an initial review and would enable genuine errors to be rectified
easily. It would benefit those applicants and authorities who would be spared the
need to go to court and would remove a number of cases from the court system.
Consultation
14.13 Consultees were generally in favour of this proposal. Notably, consultees from
the taxi and private hire trades tended to be strongly in favour,
whereas regulators gave a more mixed response. This suggests that the trades
have faith in the ability of regulators to offer a fair and efficient second look at
licensing decisions. However, some (but by no means all) regulators were
concerned about some of the implications of the proposed system.
14.14 Those who agreed with the proposal felt that it would be a more efficient
and cost-effective option than retaining the current system. Many cited the
prohibitive costs of taking an appeal to the magistrates’ court. For example,
Transport for London noted that:
Lodging an appeal at the magistrates’ court in London costs
an appellant £200…. More significantly however there will be
the associated legal costs. For example, when TfL asks the court
to award it costs following an unsuccessful appeal, we generally ask
for a contribution of £500 at magistrates’ court and £560 at Crown
Court and if awarded these costs have to be met by the appellant.
14.15 Consultees also felt that reconsideration was better for applicants in terms of
the quality of the decision-making as well as speed and ease. Some authorities,
such as Brentwood Borough Council, said that they already offered such
a reconsideration procedure themselves and felt that it was beneficial to those
who used it.
14.16 Transport for London also gave us valuable information on how
their reconsideration procedure works. They reported that the system
works successfully and is popular with those who have the option to use it. They
cited the following statistics:
While the reconsideration hearing is optional, in 2011/12, 95 per
cent of taxi driver appellants chose the reconsideration process in the
first instance and only 15 per cent of those resulted in a subsequent
magistrate’s court hearing. The proportion of private hire driver
6
Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, provisional proposal 71.
7
Transport Act 1985, s 17(2)(a).
204
appeals progressing to the Crown court was also 15 per cent. This
indicates that the reconsideration process for taxi driver
applicants and licensees is just as effective as the first line of appeal
for private hire drivers.
14.17 The Local Government Association also felt that licensing authorities were best
placed to undertake the initial reconsideration, because:
It is important that the issuing of licences continues to be transparent
to applicants, residents and other enforcement agencies such as the
police. Licensing authorities have well-established and rigorous
scrutiny mechanisms, as well as their ultimate democratic
accountability to their residents. It is therefore quite right that the first
stage in the appeal process should be to the council to reconsider its
decision.
14.18 Consultees also expressed confidence that the reconsideration procedure could
offer sufficient independence and neutrality to applicants and licence holders,
especially as they would also have the reassurance of the option of a further
appeal to the magistrates’ court.
14.19 However, a number of consultees disagreed with the proposal. As mentioned
above, these tended to be regulators. Some felt that reconsideration by the
authority would be complicated to administer as it would require some
restructuring of the authority’s processes. Sheffield City Council expressed
this view frankly:
Our view is that this would be a complete waste of time, unless all
authorities had to delegate powers to officers to allow them to refuse,
and revoke licences. This is currently not the case in most Councils
and is not the case; in Sheffield the right of refusal and revocation
remains with an independent licensing committee.
14.20 Some regulators, such as the Institute of Licensing and Carmarthenshire County
Council, suggested that reconsideration would be costly for local authorities to
administer. Milton Keynes Council also felt that speed and efficiency would be
reduced. Some consultees were concerned that the process would not be
impartial as the licensing authority would not want to impugn its own decision.
Discussion
14.21 We recommend that the first stage in the appeal process throughout England and
Wales, in respect of refusals, suspensions or revocations, should be for the local
licensing authority to reconsider its decision. The licence holder concerned would
be able to waive this and proceed directly to the magistrates’ court. We have
taken account of the arguments against this recommendation; however, we
do not feel that any of the problems raised by consultees are sufficiently great to
outweigh the benefits of our proposed system.
14.22 A key concern was the perceived cost of reconsidering decisions. However, we
note the evidence provided by other consultees that defending an appeal in the
magistrates’ court is also costly for local authorities. Licensing authorities will be
able to fund the reconsideration process from licence fees, as Transport for
205
London currently does.8
We appreciate that, as reconsideration by the authority is
cheaper for applicants and licence holders than an appeal to the magistrates’
court, more of them might pursue that option than would be prepared to pay for
an appeal. We nevertheless regard this as a positive result as it would mean that
fewer applicants and licence holders were denied the opportunity to challenge the
authority’s decision owing to cost considerations.
14.23 We also believe that speed and efficiency would be improved rather than
hindered by requiring reconsideration by the licensing authority. An appeal to the
magistrates’ court is not a speedy option. We appreciate that local authorities
have many demands on their time and resources, but in this respect they are
no different from the courts. In addition, a reconsideration panel within the
authority will be able to build up a body of experience and expertise which is
unlikely to be possible to the same degree in the magistrates’ court.
14.24 Some consultees feared that authorities would not be able to reconsider their
decisions in a fully independent fashion. We feel that this could be addressed by
requiring authorities to ensure that the reconsideration is performed by a
differently constituted person or committee to that which took the original
decision. Transport for London does this by employing “individuals with
experience in taxi licensing to act as its representative” at reconsideration
hearings, though the final decision remains with Transport for London itself. This
strikes us as a good model, but we do not think that authorities should be
restricted to using independent advisors –they should be able to use individuals
from within the authority so long as they are adequately trained and have taken
no part in the original decision.
14.25 Our consultation results indicate that members of the taxi and private hire
trades generally trust licensing authorities to give them a fair rehearing. As an
additional safeguard, we think that applicants and licence holders should have
the option to proceed directly to the magistrates’ court if they choose. This
would assist those who are concerned that the authority would not be impartial in
reconsidering their case.
14.26 An analogous statutory scheme is that found under section 202 of the Housing
Act 1996. This allows a disappointed applicant for assistance to seek
reconsideration within a set time limit. The Secretary of State has the power to
prescribe the procedure to be followed.9 This can relate, for example, to who may
undertake the reconsideration and in what circumstances there must be an oral
hearing. The apparent success of this scheme suggests that its replication in the
taxi and private hire context would be successful.
14.27 Our recommended approach is that licensing authorities should be required to
offer an impartial reconsideration process to applicants or licence holders who
are dissatisfied with the authority’s decision to refuse, suspend or revoke a
licence.10 It should be left to individual authorities to design a suitable process,
but they should be given guidance on this. Applicants and licence holders should
8
For further discussion on the use of licensing fees, see Chapter 10 above.
9
Housing Act 1996, s 203.
10 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 64(2).
206
have the option to bypass the reconsideration stage and go straight to the
magistrates’ court if they so wish. We note that, in London, those who are eligible
for reconsideration cannot appeal to the Crown Court after an unsuccessful
appeal in the magistrates’ court, regardless of whether they had first opted
for reconsideration by the authority. As we explain below, we disagree with this
approach and think that an appeal to the Crown Court should always remain
available.
Recommendation 80
We recommend that the first stage in the appeal process
in respect of refusals, suspensions or revocations of licences
should be the right to require licensing authorities to reconsider
the original decision. Appellants should have the right to bypass
this stage and proceed direct to the magistrates’ court.
14.28 This is given effect by clause 64(2)(a) of our draft Bill.
APPEAL TO THE MAGISTRATES’ COURT
14.29 With the exception of challenges to taxi vehicle licence decisions,11 all appeals
currently lie to the magistrates’ court. Statutory appeals to the magistrates’ court
are appeals on the merits of the licensing authority’s decision and give rise to a
fresh hearing of the issue. In the consultation paper, we discussed whether
appeals should continue to be heard in the magistrates’ courts. We noted the
concerns raised over whether magistrates have sufficient expertise to adjudicate
on issues of taxi and private hire law.12 We provisionally concluded that they were
the correct forum for licensing appeals; concerns about them stemmed from the
complex and fragmented nature of the law, which we would tackle in our reform
proposals.
Consultation
14.30 This was a very popular proposal. Respondents to a survey distributed by the
Institute of Licensing commented that magistrates’ courts are “reasonably
affordable” and “independent”, but also mentioned the desirability of further
training. These views were echoed by many stakeholders. Reading Borough
Council, who also supported the proposal, said that:
These decisions have serious implications for the applicant or
licence holder and require to be heard by a body that carries
suitable impartiality, gravitas and no link to the licensing authority.
14.31 However, a number of consultees saw drawbacks in continuing to refer appeals
to the magistrates’ courts. They said that magistrates had insufficient expertise to
adjudicate competently on taxi and private hire cases, and suggested the use of
a specialist tribunal. For example, Burnley Borough Council said:
11 In respect of which appeals lie directly to the Crown Court: Public Health Acts Amendment
Act 1907, s7.
12 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, para 20.20.
207
Some of the decisions of magistrates at appeal hearings highlight
a lack of understanding of the legislation. A transport tribunal would
be preferable.
14.32 Some consultees who disagreed suggested that the Traffic
Commissioners should have jurisdiction in taxi and private hire appeals. This was
the view of Transport for London, their rationale being that:
The Traffic Commissioners are independent to the licensing authority
whilst having a clear enough understanding of licensing to make an
informed decision.
14.33 The Traffic Commissioner with lead responsibility for limousines, Nick Jones,
made a similar suggestion, noting that Traffic Commissioners already have
considerable expertise in these areas.13
Discussion
14.34 We have carefully considered suggestions concerning alternatives to the
magistrates’ courts. However, we adhere to our original proposal that appeals
should continue to be heard in the magistrates’ courts.
14.35 First, the feedback we have received from consultees does not suggest that
the current role of the magistrates’ courts causes any major problems. The
vast majority of consultees did not find it necessary to make any comments on
our proposal other than to agree with it. Our proposed system of national
standards for taxi and private hire regulation should also mean that magistrates
will be able to draw upon a more consistent body of decided cases in the future.
14.36 The alternative forums suggested to us included the county courts, the
High Court, the Transport Tribunal, and the Traffic Commissioners. The
Transport Tribunal no longer exists14, its former jurisdiction having been
distributed between the First Tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber), which
deals with appeals against decisions of the Registrar of Approved Driving
Instructors and against decisions of Transport for London regarding London
service permits,15 and the Upper Tribunal,16 which deals with appeals against
13 Limousines have featured systematically in Traffic Commissioners’ annual reports. For
2012 to 2013, see p 12,
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263683/tcannual-report-2012-13.pdf (last visited 93 May 2014). For 2011 to 2012, see p 34,
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9463/tcsannual-report-2011-2012.pdf (last visited 16 May 2014).
14 Except, for limited purposes, in Scotland.
15 See http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/general-regulatory-chamber (last visited 16 May
2014).
16 See http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/aa (last visited 16 May 2014).
208
decisions of the Traffic Commissioners.17
14.37 Neither Tribunal disposes of many such cases and adding an additional area of
jurisdiction would have resource implications. It is not clear that any consultees
actually meant to suggest the Upper Tribunal, which is a high-level, specialist
body, appeals from which go to the Court of Appeal; a forum at this level is not
appropriate as the first level of appeal in taxi and private hire licensing cases. We
reject the suggestion of the High Court for similar reasons.
14.38 Transport for London’s suggestion was that appeals should be decided by
the Traffic Commissioners, acting in a judicial capacity. This was supported by
Traffic Commissioner Nick Jones. It is true that the Traffic Commissioners have
considerable expertise in matters similar to taxi and private hire licensing through
their jurisdiction over public service and heavy goods vehicle licensing. We note
also that the Scottish Traffic Commissioner already has an appeal jurisdiction
over taxi fare schedules set by local authorities.
14.39 However, the Traffic Commissioners do not oversee the taxi and private hire
licensing structure as a whole and do not have a detailed knowledge of the
system. Secondly, such a change would again have significant resource
implications. We also do not think that there is sufficient evidence of problems
with the magistrates’ courts to justify a wholesale transfer to the Traffic
Commissioners. The benefit of magistrates’ courts is that cases can be decided
locally and conveniently, which seems appropriate to the nature of taxi and
private hire licensing cases, and an onward right of appeal from a magistrates’
court to the Crown Court – which also has the advantage of being local – is
eminently appropriate.18
14.40 Nor does it seem sensible to transfer the jurisdiction to the County Court. We
regard magistrates as well equipped to decide the sort of mainly factual issues
that are likely to arise in licensing appeals, particularly given the proposed
safeguard of a right of appeal to the Crown Court. If the County Court were the
first tier of appeal, further appeal would have to be to the Court of Appeal.
14.41 As a result, we recommend that the legislation should provide in all cases that an
applicant or licence-holder dissatisfied with the decision reached by the licensing
authority’s reconsideration panel can appeal against the decision of the panel to
a magistrates’ court.19 An applicant or licence holder should also be able to elect
to bypass the reconsideration procedure and appeal directly to the magistrates’
17 Appeals which may be brought to the Upper Tribunal from the Traffic Commissioners
include (all references to Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981): the right of a transport
manager to appeal to the Upper Tribunal against an order made in respect of repute and/or
professional competence (see Schedule 3, paragraph 7B(4)); public service vehicle
operators have a right of appeal against any decision to: refuse an application to vary or
remove any condition or undertaking; vary any condition, or to attach a new condition to
the licence; or revoke or suspend the licence (see s 50(4)); appeal by a person who has
applied for a review under section 49A (in respect of the refusal to grant or vary a public
service vehicle operator’s licence) under section 50(4A); and appeal by a person
disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence under section 28 against that
determination, under section 50(5).
18 Discussed and recommended in the next section of this Chapter.
19 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 64(2).
209
court if they prefer.
Recommendation 81
We recommend that all taxi and private hire licensing appeals
should be heard in the magistrates’ court.
ONWARD APPEALS
14.42 In the consultation paper we put forward the view that our proposed system
of reconsideration by the licensing authority followed by the possibility of an
appeal to the magistrates’ court would provide adequate safeguards in most
cases. However, given the importance of the rights at stake, we also asked
whether an onward right of appeal to the Crown Court should remain available to
those dissatisfied with the decision in the magistrates’ court.20
Consultation
14.43 This proposal was popular with a large majority of consultees. Consultees who
agreed with the proposal thought it important to have an additional appeal
jurisdiction for particularly complex or difficult cases. This was also thought
necessary in the interests of justice. Reading Borough Council commented that:
Magistrates are lay persons and there needs to be a right to appeal
to a higher court to ensure no miscarriage of justice. If this
doesn’t happen case law could build up from wrong decisions and
magnify that wrong decision.
14.44 A significant minority of consultees nevertheless disagreed with the proposal; the
majority of these were from the taxi trade. Some felt that a further right of appeal
would simply be unnecessary given that, under our proposed system, two
appeals would already have taken place before a case reached the Crown Court.
This was the view of the Institute of Licensing. Darlington Borough Council and
Tees Valley Licensing Group feared that the right to a further appeal would be
abused by applicants, who would use it to extend the period in which they could
continue to drive pending the outcome of both hearings, which could take many
months. They noted that the Licensing Act 2003 and Gambling Act 2005 provide
only one right of appeal – to the magistrates’ courts. They also suggested that
suspension and revocation of licences should not be subject to a right of appeal,
to protect public safety.
Discussion
14.45 We consider that the possibility of an appeal to the Crown Court should be
retained, as it provides an important further safeguard which will ensure the
integrity of our new appeals system. We do not anticipate that there will be many
appeals to the Crown Court, but in a small number of cases such an appeal may
be appropriate. We do not think that applicants to the Crown Court should have
to satisfy any particular filter requirement, such as a requirement to obtain
permission to appeal. The financial and other burdens of further litigation will be a
20 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, question 73.
210
sufficient discipline.
14.46 We agree that where an individual or vehicle poses a serious threat to the public,
powers to suspend the relevant licence immediately should be available, as is the
case under current law.21 This would, of course, be subject to a right of appeal.22
Recommendation 82
We recommend the retention of an onward right of appeal to
the Crown Court.
APPEALS AGAINST THE DENIAL OF AN OPT-IN VEHICLE LICENCE
14.47 Vehicles with a passenger carrying capacity of nine or more passengers which
are used for hire generally fall exclusively within the jurisdiction of Traffic
Commissioners as public service vehicles.23 Whereas this will largely continue to
be the case under our reforms, we have suggested some modification to the
boundary between taxi and private hire licensing and public service vehicle
licensing. One effect of our recommendations is that vehicles with a capacity to
carry between nine and sixteen passengers can be licensed as taxis or private
hire vehicles provided they satisfy the requirements of national (or local taxi)
standards.24 Our draft Bill gives the Senior Traffic Commissioner the power to
veto applications for such “opt-in vehicle” licences on the basis that the vehicle
should properly be licensed as a public service vehicle and be operated under a
public service vehicle operator’s licence.25
14.48 Where the application for a licence for an opt-in vehicle is refused because the
Senior Traffic Commissioner objects, we think the disappointed applicant should
have the right to appeal that decision to the Upper Tribunal. The appeal will in
effect be against the decision of the Traffic Commissioner and it seems
appropriate for it to be heard in the same forum as other appeals against Traffic
Commissioner decisions. Where the opt-in vehicle licence application is refused
for any other reason, it would fall within the general taxi and private hire appeals
jurisdiction of the magistrates’ court and Crown Court.26
Recommendation 83
We recommend that applicants for a vehicle licence for an opt-in
vehicle should have a right of appeal to the Upper Tribunal if
their application is refused on the basis of an objection by the
Senior Traffic Commissioner.
21 See discussion above in Chapter 13, from para 13.72, and .
22 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 64.
23 Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, s 1.
24 Recommendation 26(b), discussed in Chapter 4, from para 4.75.
25 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 17(4).
26 We note for completeness that under our reforms, vehicles with a passenger carrying
capacity of between nine and sixteen passengers that are stretch limousines or novelty
vehicles, as defined in Regulations, will fall to be licensed only as taxi or (more probably)
private hire vehicles; any appeals will fall within the taxi and private hire appeals regime, as
discussed in this chapter.
211
14.49 This recommendation is given effect by clause 66 of the draft Bill.
JUDICIAL REVIEW
14.50 Under our proposed reforms, the only way to challenge matters of licensing policy
or standard-setting would be by judicial review. An individual taxi driver could not
use the statutory appeals procedure discussed in this chapter to make a
collateral attack on the conditions imposed by a licensing authority in pursuance
of its standard-setting powers, just as these appeals procedures could not be
used by private hire licensees wishing to challenge the national conditions set by
the Secretary of State. Such challenges are best suited to judicial review.
14.51 As we noted in the consultation paper, we do not regard the magistrates’ court as
a suitable venue to consider the legality of a licensing standard or policy.27 The
purpose of an appeal to a magistrates’ court is to consider the application of
licensing standards to the individual in question, as opposed to the validity or
application of a standard or policy generally. Furthermore, magistrates do not
conduct judicial review-like hearings, are not trained for and may be reluctant to
undertake this type of assessment.
14.52 During our consultation, however, many stakeholders complained of the difficulty
of seeking judicial review, particularly in terms of time and expense. We have
concluded that taxi drivers and taxi vehicle licence holders should have the
opportunity to challenge local taxi conditions using a streamlined review process
modelled on that found in the Housing Act 1996. The procedure would also be
available to other individuals, but only if they could satisfy the County Court that
they had sufficient interest in the challenged decision.28
14.53 By contrast, we do not think the procedure should be available in respect of
challenging national standards. These should remain challengeable solely by
standard judicial review procedures, given the centralised nature of the decision.
14.54 The Housing Act enables disappointed applicants for local authority assistance
to appeal to the County Court on a point of law.29 The Court can confirm, quash
or vary the decision.30 The County Court procedure is cheaper and more
straightforward than pursuing judicial review before the High Court. We
recommend that a similar procedure, enabling local taxi standards to be
challenged in the County Court on public law grounds, should be available in
relation to taxi conditions set by licensing authorities.31 National standards set by
the Secretary of State should continue to only be challengeable through normal
judicial review procedures.
27 Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services (2012) Law Commission
Consultation Paper No 203, Chapter 20.
28 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 65(2)(b).
29 Housing Act 1996, s 204(1).
30 Housing Act 1996, s 204(3).
31 Draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, clause 65.
212
Recommendation 84
We recommend that a County Court judicial review procedure
along the lines provided under the Housing Act 1996 should
be available to challenge taxi conditions set by
licensing authorities.
14.55 This recommendation is given effect by clause 65 of our draft Bill.
(Signed) DAVID LLOYD JONES, Chairman
ELIZABETH COOKE
DAVID HERTZELL
DAVID ORMEROD
NICHOLAS PAINES
ELAINE LORIMER, Chief Executive
19 May 2014
213
APPENDIX A
DRAFT TAXIS AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES
BILL
54/1
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill
CONTENTS
PART 1
INTRODUCTORY
1 Meaning of ìusing a vehicle as a hire vehicleî and related terms
2 Meaning of ìregulated vehicleî and ìopt-in vehicleî
3 Meaning of ìlicensing authorityî
PART 2
ACTIVITIES PROHIBITED WITHOUT LICENCES ETC
4 Prohibition on using a regulated vehicle as a hire vehicle without licences
5 Offence of contravening section 4
6 Prohibition on accepting a there-and-then hiring unless a local taxi driver
7 Taxi zones
8 Prohibition on PHV driver using a regulated vehicle as a hire vehicle unless
dispatched by licensed dispatcher
9 Prohibition on dispatching a PHV driver unless a licensed dispatcher
10 Offence of dispatching unlicensed driver or unlicensed vehicle etc
11 Sections 9 and 10: supplementary
12 Liability of other intermediaries
PART 3
LICENSING
13 Applications for licences
14 Licensing criteria
15 Licensing criteria: supplementary
16 Determination of applications
17 Determination of applications: opt-in vehicles
18 Determination of applications: power to limit the number of taxi licences
19 Licence conditions
20 Licence conditions: supplementary
21 Power to vary taxi licence or taxi driverís licence to specify taxi zones etc
22 Duration of licences
23 Register of licences
214
ii Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill
24 Transfer of taxi licences
25 Fees for grant of licences etc
PART 4
FURTHER PROVISION ABOUT TAXIS AND TAXI DRIVERS
Ranks, duty to stop, compellability and fares
26 Power of licensing authority to designate taxi ranks
27 Specified types of taxi ranks
28 Prohibition on taxi ranks being used other than by local taxis
29 Prohibition on local taxi driver failing to stop when hailed
30 Prohibition on local taxi driver refusing to drive the compellable distance
31 Power of licensing authority to fix fares for local taxis
32 Prohibition on taking or demanding more than the fixed fare
Out of area taxi pre-bookings
33 Application and interpretation of sections 34 and 35
34 Duty to acquire and record information about the booking
35 Duty to give information about cost on request
36 Duty to preserve records
PART 5
FURTHER PROVISION ABOUT DISPATCHERS ETC
Duties of licensed dispatcher in relation to a hire-vehicle booking
37 Application and interpretation of sections 38 and 39
38 Duty to acquire and record information about the booking
39 Duty to give information about cost on request
40 Effect of change of driver before start of journey
Duties of licensed dispatcher to keep and preserve records
41 Duty to keep records
42 Duty to preserve records
Duty of person accepting a hire-vehicle booking to give information to the hirer
43 Duty of person accepting a hire-vehicle booking to give information to the
hirer
PART 6
ENFORCEMENT
Licensing officers and licensing authority stopping officers
44 Authorisation of officers
45 Offences
215
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill iii
Investigative powers
46 ìLicence holderî
47 Provision of information and documents
48 Inspection and testing: vehicles and taximeters
Powers to stop and detain vehicles
49 Power to stop licensed taxis and licensed private hire vehicles
50 Power to stop and detain regulated vehicles: touting
51 Retention etc. of vehicles detained under section 50
52 Regulations: power to stop and detain regulated vehicles being used in
contravention of section 4
53 Power to move vehicles on
Suspension and revocation of licences
54 Power of licensing authority to suspend or revoke licences
Cross-border enforcement
55 ìHome licensing authorityî
56 ìCross-border enforcement conditionsî
57 Suspension of a licence with immediate effect
58 Licence suspension: determination by home licensing authority
59 Enforcement notice
60 Enforcement action: determination by home licensing authority
Fixed penalties
61 Fixed penalty offences
62 Fixed penalty notices
Return of licences etc
63 Return of licences etc
PART 7
APPEALS
64 Appeal to magistratesí court etc against decisions of licensing authorities
65 Appeal to county court against decisions of licensing authorities
66 Appeal to Upper Tribunal against senior traffic commissionerís objection to
grant of licence
PART 8
MISCELLANEOUS AND SUPPLEMENTARY
67 Duty to notify licensing authority of change in ownership of licensed vehicle
68 Prohibition on certain signs etc on vehicles
69 Prohibition on certain advertisements
70 Touting
71 Power of neighbouring licensing authorities to combine their areas etc
216
iv Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill
72 Public service vehicles
PART 9
GENERAL
73 Regulations
74 References to the owner of a vehicle
75 Interpretation
76 Repeals and consequential provision
77 Extent, commencement and short title
Schedule ó Vehicles detained under section 50: supplementary provisions
Part 1 ó Removal and delivery of vehicle
Part 2 ó Immobilisation
Part 3 ó Return of detained vehicle
Part 4 ó Supplementary provisions
217
54/1
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill
Part 1 ó Introductory
1
A
BILL
TO
Make provision for the licensing and regulation of taxis and private hire
vehicles, the drivers of those vehicles and people who dispatch drivers of
those vehicles; and for connected purposes
E IT ENACTED by the Queenís most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:ó
PART 1
INTRODUCTORY
1 Meaning of ìusing a vehicle as a hire vehicleî and related terms
(1) This section applies for the purposes of this Act.
(2) A vehicle is ìused as a hire vehicleî if it is used to carry a passenger in
circumstances where the vehicle, together with the services of the driver, have
been hired for that purpose; but this is subject to subsections (3) and (4).
(3) A vehicle used to carry a passenger is not to be treated as being ìused as a hire
vehicleî if the carriage of the passenger is ancillary to, or an incidental part of,
another service provided to, or in respect of, the passenger.
(4) A vehicle is not to be treated as being ìused as a hire vehicleî at any time when
it is being used in connection with a wedding or a funeral.
(5) A ìhire-vehicle bookingî is a booking for the hire of a regulated vehicle,
together with the services of a driver, for the purpose of carrying a passenger.
(6) A person (A) dispatches another person (ìthe driverî) to fulfil a hire-vehicle
booking ifó
(a) A instructs or requests the driver to use a vehicle to fulfil the booking,
and
(b) the driver accepts the instruction or request.
B
218
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill
Part 1 ó Introductory
2
2 Meaning of ìregulated vehicleî and ìopt-in vehicleî
(1) Subject to subsection (5), a vehicle is a ìregulated vehicleî for the purposes of
this Act if it is within subsection (2), (3) or (4).
(2) A vehicle is within this subsection if it is a motor vehicle constructed or
adapted to carry no more than 8 passengers.
(3) A vehicle is within this subsection ifó
(a) it is a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than 8
passengers but fewer than 17, and
(b) it is a stretch limousine or other novelty vehicle.
(4) A vehicle is within this subsection ifó
(a) it is not a motor vehicle, but
(b) it is constructed or adapted for use on roads.
(5) A vehicle within subsection (2), (3) or (4) is not a ìregulated vehicleî for the
purposes of this Act ifó
(a) it is a public service vehicle;
(b) it is a vehicle constructed or adapted for use as part of a transport
system to which section 1 of the Transport and Works Act 1992 applies
(railways, tramways etc).
(6) A vehicle is to be treated as a ìregulated vehicleî for the purposes of this Act if
it is an opt-in vehicle in respect of which a taxi licence or a private hire vehicle
licence granted under section 16 in force.
(7) A vehicle is an ìopt-in vehicleî for the purposes of this Act ifó
(a) it is a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than 8
passengers but fewer than 17, and
(b) it is not a stretch limousine or other novelty vehicle.
(8) ìMotor vehicleî means a mechanically propelled vehicle constructed or
adapted for use on roads.
(9) ìStretch limousineî means a vehicle of a description specified in regulations.
(10) ìNovelty vehicleî means a vehicle of a description specified in regulations.
(11) Regulations under subsection (9) or (10) may specify a description of vehicle by
reference, in particular, to one or more of the followingó
(a) the physical characteristics of the vehicle;
(b) a type of event or occasion in connection with which the vehicle is used
as a hire vehicle;
(c) a type of service provided to passengers when the vehicle is used as a
hire vehicle (such as the provision of alcohol).
(12) In determining for the purposes of this section the number of passengers that
a vehicle is constructed or adapted to carry, a space within the vehicle is not to
be disregarded by reason only of the fact that it is located next to the driverís
seat or is separated by a partition from the rest of the vehicle.
3 Meaning of ìlicensing authorityî
(1) In this Act ìlicensing authorityî meansó
(a) Transport for London;
219
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill
Part 1 ó Introductory
3
(b) the council of a district in England;
(c) the council of a county in England in which there are no district
councils;
(d) the council of a county in Wales;
(e) the council of a county borough in Wales.
(2) References in this Act to the area of a licensing authority areó
(a) in the case of Transport for London, to Greater London;
(b) in any other case, to the area for which the authority acts.
PART 2
ACTIVITIES PROHIBITED WITHOUT LICENCES ETC
4 Prohibition on using a regulated vehicle as a hire vehicle without licences
(1) A regulated vehicle must not be used as a hire vehicle unless the condition in
subsection (2) or subsection (3) is met.
(2) The condition in this subsection is tható
(a) the driver of the vehicle holds a taxi driverís licence, and
(b) a taxi licence granted by the same licensing authority that granted the
taxi driverís licence is in force in respect of the vehicle.
(3) The condition in this subsection is tható
(a) the driver of the vehicle holds a PHV driverís licence, and
(b) a private hire vehicle licence is in force in respect of the vehicle.
(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to a regulated vehicleó
(a) which is of a description specified in regulations;
(b) while it is being used to carry a passenger in circumstances or for a
purpose specified in regulations.
5 Offence of contravening section 4
(1) This section applies where a regulated vehicle is used as a hire vehicle in
contravention of section 4.
(2) The driver of the vehicle is guilty of an offence ifó
(a) the driver held neither a taxi driverís licence nor a PHV driverís licence;
(b) the driveró
(i) held a taxi driverís licence, but
(ii) knew or had reason to suspect that a taxi licence granted by the
same licensing authority that granted his or her taxi driverís
licence was not in force in respect of the vehicle;
(c) the driveró
(i) held a PHV driverís licence, but
(ii) knew or had reason to suspect that a private hire vehicle licence
was not in force in respect of the vehicle.
(3) In a case where the owner of the vehicle was someone other than the driver, the
owner is guilty of an offence ifó
(a) neither a taxi licence nor a private hire vehicle licence was in force in
respect of the vehicle, and
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(b) the owneró
(i) permitted the vehicle to be taken out of his or her possession
(whether by the driver or another person), and
(ii) knew or had reason to suspect that whilst out of his or her
possession the vehicle would be used as a hire vehicle.
(4) In a case where a taxi licence or a private hire vehicle licence was in force in
respect of the vehicle and the holder of that licence was someone other than the
driver, the holder of that licence is guilty of an offence if the holderó
(a) permitted the vehicle to be taken out of his or her possession (whether
by the driver or another person), and
(b) knew or had reason to suspect that whilst out of his or her possession
the vehicle would be used in contravention of section 4.
(5) If, in proceedings for an offence under subsection (2) or (4), the prosecution
proves that a vehicle in respect of which a taxi licence or private hire vehicle
licence was in force was being used at any time to carry a passenger it is to be
presumed, unless the contrary is shown, that the vehicle was at that time being
used as a hire vehicle.
(6) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine.
6 Prohibition on accepting a there-and-then hiring unless a local taxi driver
(1) The driver of a regulated vehicle must not in a public place agree to use the
vehicle as a hire vehicle on a journey which begins there and then unlessó
(a) the driver holds a taxi driverís licence,
(b) a taxi licence granted by the same licensing authority that granted the
taxi driverís licence (ìthe relevant licensing authorityî) is in force in
respect of the vehicle, and
(c) the place isó
(i) within the area of the relevant licensing authority, and
(ii) if the relevant licensing authority has made a determination
under section 7 that its area is to be divided into taxi zones,
within a zone which is specified in the taxi driverís licence and
the taxi licence.
(2) But subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a regulated vehicle which is of
a description specified in regulations unless the licensing authority for the area
in which the public place is situated has made a determination that subsection
(1) should apply in relation to vehicles of that description.
(3) A determination under subsection (2) may be revoked by the licensing
authority that made it.
(4) A licensing authority which makes a determination under subsection (2)
mustó
(a) publish the determination, and
(b) if it revokes the determination, publish notice of the revocation.
(5) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on
summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(6) If a licensing authority makes a determination under section 7 that its area is to
be divided into taxi zones, any taxi driverís licence or taxi licence granted by
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the authority before the determination was made which has not been varied
under section 21 since the determination was made is to be treated for the
purposes of this Act as if it specified all the zones.
7 Taxi zones
(1) A licensing authority may make a determination that its area is to be divided
for the purposes of this Act into two or more taxi zones specified in the
determination.
(2) A determination under this section may be varied or revoked by the licensing
authority that made it.
(3) In deciding whether and, if so, how to exercise its powers under this section a
licensing authority must, in particular, take into accountó
(a) the interests of people who hire or seek to hire licensed taxis,
(b) the particular interests of disabled people who hire or seek to hire
licensed taxis,
(c) the interests of people who hold taxi licences and taxi driverís licences,
(d) the need to avoid traffic congestion,
(e) the need to preserve the environment, and
(f) such other matters as may be specified in regulations.
(4) Before making a determination under this section, revoking a determination or
varying a determination so as to alter the number of taxi zones into which its
area is divided, a licensing authority mustó
(a) carry out a consultation in such manner as is specified in regulations;
(b) obtain such evidence as is specified in regulations;
(c) undertake such assessments as are specified in regulations; and
(d) take any other steps as are specified in regulations.
(5) A licensing authority which has made a determination under this section
mustó
(a) publish the determination;
(b) if it varies the determination, publish the determination as varied;
(c) if it revokes the determination, publish notice of the revocation.
8 Prohibition on PHV driver using a regulated vehicle as a hire vehicle unless
dispatched by licensed dispatcher
(1) A person (A) who holds a PHV driverís licence must not use a regulated
vehicle as a hire vehicle unless a person who holds a dispatcherís licence has
instructed or requested A to do so for the purpose of fulfilling a hire-vehicle
booking.
(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.
(3) But in a case where a person (A) contravenes subsection (1) by reason only of
the fact that another person (B) did not hold a dispatcherís licence, A is guilty
of an offence only if A knew, or had reason to suspect, that B did not hold a
dispatcherís licence.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
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(5) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who holds a PHV driverís licence if
the person also holds a dispatcherís licence.
9 Prohibition on dispatching a PHV driver unless a licensed dispatcher
(1) A person (A) must not in the course of business dispatch a person who holds a
PHV driverís licence (ìthe driverî) to fulfil a hire-vehicle booking unless A
holds a dispatcherís licence.
(2) A person who contravenes this subsection is guilty of an offence.
(3) In proceedings for an offence under this section it is a defence to show that the
defendant reasonably believed, having made such enquiries as were
reasonable, that the driveró
(a) held a taxi driverís licence, and
(b) would use a licensed taxi to fulfil the booking.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
10 Offence of dispatching unlicensed driver or unlicensed vehicle etc
(1) A person commits an offence ifó
(a) in the course of business the person dispatches another person (ìthe
driverî) to fulfil a hire-vehicle booking, and
(b) the driver contravenes section 4 when using a vehicle for the purpose
of fulfilling the booking.
(2) In proceedings for an offence under this section it is a defence to show that the
defendant reasonably believed, having made such enquiries as were
reasonable, tható
(a) the driveró
(i) held a taxi driverís licence, and
(ii) would use a vehicle in respect of which there was in force a taxi
licence granted by the same licensing authority that granted the
taxi driverís licence, or
(b) the driveró
(i) held a PHV driverís licence, and
(ii) would use a vehicle in respect of which there was in force a
private hire vehicle licence.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale
11 Sections 9 and 10: supplementary
If, in proceedings for an offence under section 9 or 10, the prosecution proves
tható
(a) in the course of business the defendant accepted a hire-vehicle booking,
and
(b) another person (ìthe driverî) used a vehicle as a hire vehicle for the
purpose of fulfilling the booking,
it is to be presumed, unless the contrary is shown, that in the course of business
the defendant dispatched the driver to fulfil the booking.
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12 Liability of other intermediaries
(1) A person (A) commits an offence ifó
(a) in the course of business A accepts a hire-vehicle booking or agrees to
make arrangements for a hire-vehicle booking to be fulfilled,
(b) A makes arrangements with another person (B) under which B agrees
to make further arrangements for fulfilling the booking, and
(c) A knows or has reason to suspectó
(i) that a vehicle will be used in contravention of section 4 for the
purpose of fulfilling the booking, or
(ii) that B or any other person will contravene section 9 when
dispatching a driver to fulfil the booking.
(2) A person (A) commits an offence ifó
(a) in the course of business A makes provision for enabling another
person to accept a hire-vehicle booking, and
(b) A knows or has reason to suspectó
(i) that a vehicle will be used in contravention of section 4 for the
purpose of fulfilling the booking, or
(ii) that a person will contravene section 9 when dispatching a
driver to fulfil the booking.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
PART 3
LICENSING
13 Applications for licences
(1) Any person may apply to a licensing authority foró
(a) a taxi driverís licence;
(b) a PHV driverís licence;
(c) a dispatcherís licence;
(d) a taxi licence for a regulated vehicle or an opt-in vehicle;
(e) a private hire vehicle licence for a regulated vehicle or an opt-in vehicle.
(2) An application under this section must be in such form, and include such
declarations and information, as may be specified in regulations.
(3) A person who makes an application to a licensing authority under this section
must give to the authority whatever additional information the authority may
reasonably require for the purpose of dealing with the application.
(4) A person commits an offence if, in giving information under this section, the
person makes a statement that the person knows, or has reason to suspect, is
untrue.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (4) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
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14 Licensing criteria
(1) Regulations must be made specifying criteria which must be met for a person
who has applied for a licence under section 13 to be granted the licence.
(2) A licensing authority may set additional criteria which must be met for a
person who has applied to the authority for a taxi driverís licence or a taxi
licence to be granted the licence.
(3) A licensing authority which sets additional criteria may revise or revoke the
criteria.
(4) A licensing authority which sets additional criteria mustó
(a) publish the criteria;
(b) if it revises the criteria, publish the criteria as revised;
(c) if it revokes the criteria, publish notice of the revocation.
(5) Different criteria may be specified or setó
(a) in respect of different types of licence;
(b) otherwise for different purposes, circumstances or cases.
(6) The criteria specified or set in respect of taxi licences and private hire vehicle
licences must be criteria concerningó
(a) the vehicle for which the licence is sought, or
(b) the connection that the person applying for the licence has with that
vehicle.
15 Licensing criteria: supplementary
(1) Regulations under section 14 may specify a particular criterion only if the
Secretary of State is satisfied that specifying the criterion is necessary or
expedient for a purpose mentioned in subsection (2).
(2) The purposes areó
(a) securing the safety of individuals;
(b) preserving the environment;
(c) enabling the effective and efficient enforcement of this Act or any
conditions to which licences under this Act are subject;
(d) promoting the interests of disabled people who hire or seek to hire
licensed taxis or licensed private hire vehicles.
(3) Regulations under section 14 must specify criteria which prevent a person who
has applied for a taxi driverís licence or a PHV driverís licence being granted
the licence unless, within a period specified in the regulations ending with the
date the application was made, the applicant has completed an approved
training course concerning the needs of disabled people who hire or seek to
hire licensed taxis or licensed private hire vehicles.
(4) In subsection (3) ìapproved training courseî means a training course approved
in a manner specified in regulations.
(5) Each licensing authority must review, at least every three years, whether it is
necessary or expedient for it to exercise its powers under subsection (2) or (3)
of section 14 for the purpose of promoting the interests of disabled people who
hire or seek to hire licensed taxis.
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(6) Before exercising its powers under subsection (2) or (3) of section 14 a licensing
authority must consult such persons as it considers appropriate.
16 Determination of applications
(1) This section applies where an application for a licence is made to a licensing
authority under section 13.
(2) The licensing authority must grant the licence to the applicant if satisfied that
the criteria specified or set under section 14 which are applicable are met; but
this is subject to section 17(4) and 18(2).
(3) If the licensing authority is not satisfied that those criteria are met it must
refuse the application.
(4) If the licensing authority grants the licence to the applicant it mustó
(a) in a case where the licence is a taxi driverís licence or a PHV driverís
licence, issue the applicant with a badge which identifies him or her as
a person who holds such a licence;
(b) in a case where the licence is taxi licence or private hire vehicle licence,
issue the applicant with a plate for the vehicle concerned which
identifies the vehicle as a vehicle for which such a licence is in force.
(5) If the licensing authority refuses the application it must give the applicant
notice of the refusal and the reasons for the refusal.
(6) A licence granted under subsection (2) and a badge or plate issued under
subsection (4) must be in such form and contain such information as may be
specified in regulations.
17 Determination of applications: opt-in vehicles
(1) This section applies where an application is made to a licensing authority foró
(a) a taxi licence for an opt-in vehicle, or
(b) a private hire vehicle licence for an opt-in vehicle.
(2) The licensing authority must give to the senior traffic commissioneró
(a) a copy of the application, and
(b) any information given by the applicant under section 13(3).
(3) The senior traffic commissioner may, within such period as is specified in
regulations, object to the grant of the licence if the senior traffic commissioner
considers it appropriate to do so in view of the effect that granting the licence
would have by virtue of section 1(2B) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981
(opt-in vehicles licensed as taxis or private hire vehicles not to be treated as
public service vehicles for the purposes of that Act).
(4) If the senior traffic commissioner objects to the grant of the licence the licensing
authority must refuse the application (despite being satisfied as mentioned in
section 16(2)).
18 Determination of applications: power to limit the number of taxi licences
(1) A licensing authority may make a determination that the number of taxi
licences granted by it, discounting those that have ceased to have effect, should
not at any time exceed a number specified in the determination.
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(2) A licensing authority that has made a determination under this section may
refuse an application for a taxi licence (despite being satisfied as mentioned in
section 16(2)) if it thinks it appropriate to do so in pursuance of the
determination; but this is subject to subsections (3) and (4).
(3) A licensing authority which has previously granted a taxi licence for a vehicle
(ìthe existing licenceî) may not, in reliance on subsection (2), refuse an
application for a new taxi licence for the same vehicle if the application is made
by the holder of the existing licence prior to its ceasing to have effect.
(4) A licensing authority may not, in reliance on subsection (2), refuse an
application for a taxi licence for a vehicle ifó
(a) the applicant holds a taxi licence for another vehicle (ìthe existing
licenceî) which was granted by the authority, and
(b) the application contains a request that the existing licence be revoked
when the licence applied for is granted.
(5) A licensing authority may vary or revoke a determination made by it under
this section.
(6) A licensing authority that has made a determination under this section must
review, at least every three years, whether to exercise the power to vary or
revoke the determination.
(7) In deciding whether and, if so, how to exercise the power to make or vary a
determination under this section a licensing authority must, in particular, take
into accountó
(a) the interests of people who hire or seek to hire licensed taxis,
(b) the particular interests of disabled people who hire or seek to hire
licensed taxis,
(c) the interests of people who hold taxi licences and taxi driversí licences,
(d) the need to avoid excessive queues of licensed taxis at taxi ranks,
(e) the need to avoid traffic congestion,
(f) the need to preserve the environment, and
(g) such other matters as may be specified in regulations.
(8) Before making a determination under this section, or varying a determination
by replacing the number specified in it with a lower number, a licensing
authority mustó
(a) carry out a consultation in such manner as is determined by
regulations;
(b) obtain such evidence as is specified in regulations;
(c) undertake such assessments as are specified in regulations; and
(d) take any other steps as are specified in regulations.
(9) A licensing authority which makes a determination under this section mustó
(a) publish the determination,
(b) if it varies the determination, publish the determination as varied,
(c) if it revokes the determination, publish notice of the revocation.
19 Licence conditions
(1) Regulations must be made specifying conditions to which licences granted
under section 16 are subject.
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(2) A licensing authority may set additional conditions to which taxi driversí
licences or taxi licences granted by the authority are subject.
(3) A licensing authority which sets conditions may revise them or revoke them.
(4) A licensing authority which sets conditions mustó
(a) publish the conditions,
(b) if it revises the conditions, publish the conditions as revised,
(c) if it revokes the conditions, publish notice of the revocation.
(5) Different conditions may be specified or setó
(a) in respect of different types of licence;
(b) otherwise for different purposes, circumstances or cases.
(6) Conditions may be specified or setó
(a) in respect of licences granted at any time, or
(b) only in respect of licences granted after the regulations specifying the
conditions come into force or (as the case may be) after the licensing
authority setting the conditions publish them.
20 Licence conditions: supplementary
(1) Regulations under section 19 may specify a particular condition only if the
Secretary of State is satisfied that specifying the condition is necessary or
expedient for a purpose mentioned in section 15(2).
(2) Regulations under that section may include provision making it a criminal
offence, triable summarily and punishable with a fine not exceeding level 3 on
the standard scale, for the holder of a licence under this Act to fail to comply
with a condition to which the licence is subject by virtue of the regulations.
(3) Each licensing authority must review, at least every three years, whether it is
necessary or expedient for it to exercise its powers under subsection (2) or (3)
of section 19 for the purpose of promoting the interests of disabled people who
hire or seek to hire licensed taxis.
(4) Before exercising its powers under subsection (2) or (3) of section 19 a licensing
authority must consult such persons as it considers appropriate.
21 Power to vary taxi licence or taxi driverís licence to specify taxi zones etc
(1) A licensing authority which has made a determination under section 7 that its
area is to be divided into taxi zones may vary a taxi driverís licence or taxi
licence granted by it so tható
(a) the licence specifies a taxi zone in the authorityís area;
(b) the licence ceases to specify a taxi zone in the authorityís area.
(2) A licensing authority which decides to vary a licence under this section must
give to the holder of the licence notice ofó
(a) the decision, and
(b) if the holder did not request the variation, the reasons for the decision.
(3) A variation under this section takes effectó
(a) if the holder of the licence did not request the variation, at the end of
the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which that notice is
served on the holder,
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(b) if the holder of the licence did request the variation, when the notice
under subsection (2) is served on the holder.
22 Duration of licences
(1) A licence under this Act has effect, if not revoked or suspendedó
(a) for the relevant period beginning with the date it was granted, or
(b) for such shorter period beginning with that date as is specified in the
licence.
(2) But a shorter period than the relevant period may be specified in a PHV
driverís licence, a private hire vehicle licence or a dispatcherís licence only in
circumstances specified by regulations.
(3) The ìrelevant periodî meansó
(a) in the case of a taxi driverís licence or a PHV driverís licence, three
years;
(b) in the case of a taxi licence or a private hire vehicle licence, one year;
(c) in the case of a dispatcherís licence, five years.
23 Register of licences
(1) A licensing authority must maintain a register of persons who hold a licence
granted by the authority under section 16.
(2) A register maintained under this section must contain such information as is
specified in regulations.
(3) A licensing authority mustó
(a) publish a copy of the register maintained by it in such manner as is
specified in regulations;
(b) make a copy of the register maintained by it available, at all reasonable
times and at such places as the authority may determine, for any person
to inspect.
(4) Regulations may provideó
(a) that before a copy of the register maintained by a licensing authority is
published or made available under subsection (3) the licensing
authority must remove from the copy any information which is of a
description specified in the regulations;
(b) that a licensing authority must not disclose from the register kept by it
any information which is of that description otherwise than in
circumstances specified in the regulations.
24 Transfer of taxi licences
(1) Regulations may make provision for, and in connection with, establishing a
procedure under which the holder of a taxi licence granted by a relevant
licensing authority may transfer his or her obligations as holder of the licence
to another person.
(2) Where the holder of a taxi licence transfers his or her obligations to another
person under a procedure established under this section that other person is to
be treated for all purposes as the holder of the licence (subject to any further
transfer by that person).
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(3) In subsection (1) ìrelevant licensing authorityî means a licensing authority
whichó
(a) is specified in the regulations, or
(b) has not made a determination under section 18 which remains in force.
(4) A licensing authority may be specified in the regulations only if it appears to
the Secretary of State that immediately before the coming into force of this
section the authority had a policy of limiting the number of licences granted by
it under section 37 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (power to license
hackney carriages).
(5) Regulations under this section mayó
(a) provide for the making of applications;
(b) impose duties or confer powers on licensing authorities;
(c) provide for the charging of fees;
(d) provide for appeals;
(e) create criminal offences.
25 Fees for grant of licences etc
(1) Regulations may provide that any person who applies to a licensing authority
for a PHV driverís licence, a private hire vehicle licence, or a dispatcherís
licence must pay to the authority a specified feeó
(a) on making the application;
(b) on the grant of the licence (if it is granted);
(c) at specified times while the licence is in force (if it is granted).
(2) Regulations may provide that any person who applies to a licensing authority
for a taxi driverís licence or a taxi licence must pay to the authority a fee, of
such amount as is determined from time to time by the authorityó
(a) on making the application;
(b) on the grant of the licence (if it is granted);
(c) at specified times while the licence is in force (if it is granted).
(3) Regulations under subsections (1) and (2) may provide for fees to be payable
by instalments, or for fees to be remitted or refunded (in whole or part), in
specified circumstances.
(4) A licensing authority may decline to proceed withó
(a) an application for a licence under this Act, or
(b) the grant of a licence under this Act,
until any fee (or instalment) due by virtue of this section in respect of the
application or grant is paid.
(5) In making a determination under subsection (2) a licensing authority must
ensure tható
(a) the fees payable by any person who applies to the authority for a taxi
driverís licence are not less than the fees that would be payable by that
person if he or she were to apply instead for a PHV driverís licence;
(b) the fees payable by any person who applies to the authority for a taxi
licence for a vehicle are not less than the fees that would be payable by
that person if he or she were to apply instead for a private hire vehicle
licence for the vehicle.
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(6) A determination under subsection (2) mayó
(a) set different fees for different purposes, circumstances or cases,
(b) be varied or revoked.
(7) A licensing authority which has made a determination under subsection (2)
mustó
(a) publish the determination,
(b) if it varies the determination, publish the determination as varied,
(c) if it revokes the determination, publish notice of the revocation.
(8) Subject to subsection (9), the fees received by a licensing authority by virtue of
this section must be applied for meeting the expenses incurred by the authority
in connection with the exercise ofó
(a) its functions under this Act, and
(b) the functions of its officers under Part 6 of this Act (enforcement).
(9) Regulations may make provision for, and in connection with,ó
(a) requiring licensing authorities to pay to the Secretary of State the fees
received by them under subsection (1), and
(b) requiring the Secretary of State to redistribute those fees amongst the
licensing authorities in accordance with a specified scheme.
(10) In this section ìspecifiedî means specified in regulations under this section.
PART 4
FURTHER PROVISION ABOUT TAXIS AND TAXI DRIVERS
Ranks, duty to stop, compellability and fares
26 Power of licensing authority to designate taxi ranks
(1) A licensing authority may for the purposes of this Act designate any place
within its area to be a taxi rankó
(a) at all times; or
(b) for such times of the day, days or other periods as may be specified in
the designation.
(2) A designation under this section may specify the number of licensed taxis
permitted at any one time to wait at the place designated.
(3) A designation under this section may be varied or revoked by the licensing
authority that made it.
(4) A licensing authority that has made a designation under this section mustó
(a) publish the designation;
(b) if it varies the designation, publish the designation as varied;
(c) if it revokes the designation, publish notice of the revocation.
(5) Before designating a place under this section, or varying or revoking a
designation of a place, a licensing authority mustó
(a) give notice of the proposed designation, variation or revocation to the
chief officer of police for the police area in which the place concerned is
situated;
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(b) publish notice of the proposed designation, variation or revocation and
take into consideration any objections or representations in respect of
the proposal which are made to it within 28 days of the publication.
(6) A licensing authority must not designate a place on a highway, or vary or
revoke the designation of a place on a highway, without the consent of the
highway authority.
(7) A licensing authority must have regard to the position of any bus stops that are
in use before designating a place or varying a designation.
(8) A licensing authority must not designate a place, or vary a designation, if the
effect of doing so would be toó
(a) unreasonably prevent access to any premises;
(b) impede the use of any points authorised to be used in connection with
a local service within the meaning of the Transport Act 1985 or a PSV
operatorís licence granted under the Public Passenger Vehicles Act
1981, as points for the taking up or dropping off of passengers;
(c) unreasonably interfere with access to any station or depot of any
passenger road transport operator.
(9) Each licensing authority must review, at least every three years, whether to
exercise its powers under subsections (1) and (3).
(10) In carrying out a review under subsection (9) a licensing authority must
consult such persons as it thinks fit.
27 Specified types of taxi ranks
(1) A designation under section 26 may specify that the place designated as a taxi
rank is to be a rest rankó
(a) at all times, or
(b) for such times of the day, days or other periods as may be specified in
the designation.
(2) Where a designation specifies that a place designated as a taxi rank is to be a
rest rank, the designation may specify the maximum period that a taxi may
wait at the rest rank, and may specify different maximum periods for different
times of the day, days or other periods.
(3) A designation under section 26 may specify that the place designated as a taxi
rank is to be a directional taxi rankó
(a) at all times, or
(b) for such times of the day, days or other periods as may be specified in
the designation.
(4) In this section and section 30 ìdirectional taxi rankî means a taxi rank for taxis
which are available for immediate hire for journeys in the direction, or in one
of the directions, specified in the designation relating to that rank.
(5) Notice that a place designated under section 26 is a rest rank or a directional
taxi rank must be indicated by such traffic signs as may be prescribed or
authorised for the purpose by the Secretary of State in pursuance of the powers
conferred by section 64 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
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28 Prohibition on taxi ranks being used other than by local taxis
(1) A person must not cause or permit any vehicle to wait at a place designated as
a taxi rank by a licensing authority (the ìdesignating authorityî) unlessó
(a) the driver of the vehicle holds a taxi driverís licence granted by the
designating authority,
(b) a taxi licence granted by the designating authority is in force in respect
of the vehicle, and
(c) if the designating authority has made a determination under section 7
that its area is to be divided into taxi zones, the zone in which the taxi
rank is situated is specified in the taxi driverís licence and the taxi
licence.
(2) Notice of the prohibition in this section must be indicated by such traffic signs
as may be prescribed or authorised for the purpose by the Secretary of State in
pursuance of the powers conferred by section 64 of the Road Traffic Regulation
Act 1984.
(3) A person who without reasonable excuse contravenes this section is guilty of
an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on
the standard scale.
(4) In any proceedings under this section against the driver of a public service
vehicle it is a defence to show tható
(a) the driver caused the vehicle to wait at the taxi rank in order to avoid
an obstruction to traffic or for some other good reason, and
(b) the driver caused the vehicle to wait at the taxi rank only for so long as
was reasonably necessary for the picking up or dropping off of
passengers.
29 Prohibition on local taxi driver failing to stop when hailed
(1) Subsection (2) applies whereó
(a) a person who holds a taxi driverís licence (ìthe driverî) is driving a
vehicle in respect of which a taxi licence is in force (ìthe taxiî),
(b) the taxi driverís licence and the taxi licence were granted by the same
licensing authority (ìthe relevant licensing authorityî),
(c) the place where the driver is driving the taxi isó
(i) within the area of the relevant licensing authority, and
(ii) in a case where the relevant licensing authority has made a
determination under section 7 that its area is to be divided into
taxi zones, within a zone which is specified in the taxi driverís
licence and the taxi licence, and
(d) the relevant licensing authority has made a determination that this
section is to apply in the area of the authority.
(2) The driver commits an offence if at a time when the taxi is displaying a for-hire
sign the driver fails, without reasonable excuse, to stop the taxi when hailed to
do so.
(3) A person who commits an offence under subsection (2) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(4) A determination under subsection (1)(d) may be revoked by the licensing
authority that made it.
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(5) A licensing authority which makes a determination under subsection (1)(d)
mustó
(a) publish the determination, and
(b) if it revokes the determination, publish notice of the revocation.
30 Prohibition on local taxi driver refusing to drive the compellable distance
(1) This section applies whereó
(a) a person who holds a taxi driverís licence (ìthe driverî) is driving a
vehicle in respect of which a taxi licence is in force (ìthe taxiî),
(b) the taxi driverís licence and the taxi licence were granted by the same
licensing authority (ìthe relevant licensing authorityî), and
(c) the place where the driver is driving the taxi isó
(i) within the area of the relevant licensing authority, and
(ii) in a case where the relevant licensing authority has made a
determination under section 7 that its area is to be divided into
taxi zones, within a zone which is specified in the taxi driverís
licence and the taxi licence.
(2) The driver commits an offence if at a time when the taxi isó
(a) at a taxi rank which is not, at that time, a rest rank,
(b) displaying a for-hire sign, or
(c) otherwise being made available by the driver for immediate hire,
the driver refuses, without reasonable excuse, to drive a person who wishes to
hire the taxi to a place within the compellable distance.
(3) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(4) In subsection (2), the reference to a rest rank is a reference to a taxi rank that is
specified as a rest rank in accordance with section 27.
(5) The question whether any place is within the compellable distance for the
purposes of subsection (2) is to be determined by rules made by the relevant
licensing authority; but in the absence of any such rules having been made, a
place is within the compellable distance for the purposes of subsection (2) if it
is within the area of the relevant licensing authority.
(6) Rules made by the relevant licensing authority under subsection (5) may not
have the effect of making a place within the compellable distance for the
purposes of subsection (2) if the place isó
(a) more than seven miles outside the area of the authority, or
(b) in a case where the authority is Transport for London, more than 20
miles outside that area.
(7) Rules made under subsection (5) may make different provisionó
(a) in respect of journeys beginning in different places;
(b) in respect of journeys beginning at a directional taxi rank;
(c) otherwise for different purposes, circumstances or cases.
(8) A licensing authority which makes rules under subsection (5) may vary or
revoke the rules.
(9) A licensing authority which makes rules under subsection (5) mustó
(a) publish the rules;
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(b) if it varies the rules, publish the rules as varied;
(c) if it revokes the rules, publish notice of the revocation.
31 Power of licensing authority to fix fares for local taxis
(1) A licensing authority may make rules fixing the fares to be paid in connection
with the hire of vehicles licensed as taxis by the authority.
(2) Rules under this section may fix fares by reference to time or distance or both.
(3) Rules under this section may make different provision for different purposes,
circumstances or cases.
(4) A licensing authority which makes rules under this section may vary or revoke
the rules.
(5) A licensing authority which makes rules under this section mustó
(a) publish the rules,
(b) if it varies the rules, publish the rules as varied,
(c) if it revokes the rules, publish notice of the revocation.
(6) Each licensing authority must review, at least every three years, whether to
exercise its powers under this section.
(7) In carrying out a review under subsection (6) a licensing authority must
consult such persons as it thinks fit.
(8) In this section and section 32 ìfareî does not include a taxi booking fee.
(9) A ìtaxi booking feeî is a feeó
(a) which a person charges as consideration for accepting a booking for the
hire of a licensed taxi, and
(b) whose amount, or method of calculation, is agreed with the person who
wishes to make the booking before the booking is accepted.
(10) But a fee which a person charges as consideration for accepting a booking for
the hire of a licensed taxi is not to be treated as a ìtaxi booking feeî if the person
is also the driver who fulfils the booking.
32 Prohibition on taking or demanding more than the fixed fare
(1) This section applies whereó
(a) a licensing authority has made rules under section 31, and
(b) a vehicle licensed as a taxi by the authority is hired for a journey
beginning in the authorityís area.
(2) A person must not take or demand a fare in connection with the hiring which
is greater than the fare permitted by the rules unlessó
(a) the journey is a long journey (see subsection (3)), and
(b) the amount of the fare taken or demanded was agreed before the
beginning of the journey.
(3) A journey is a long journey for the purposes of subsection (2) ifó
(a) it ends more than such distance outside the area of the licensing
authority as is specified in the rules made under section 31, or
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(b) in a case where no distance is specified in those rules, it ends outside
the area of the licensing authority.
(4) A distance specified in rules for the purposes of subsection (3)(a) must not be
a distance greater thanó
(a) seven miles, or
(b) in the case of rules made by Transport for London, 20 miles.
(5) A person who contravenes subsection (2) is guilty of an offence and liable on
summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
Out of area taxi pre-bookings
33 Application and interpretation of sections 34 and 35
(1) Sections 34 and 35 impose duties on the holder of a taxi driverís licence in any
case where the holderó
(a) proposes to use a licensed taxi to fulfil an out of area hire-vehicle
booking; but
(b) has not been dispatched to fulfil the booking by the holder of a
dispatcherís licence.
(2) It is immaterial whether the booking was originally accepted by the hirer.
(3) A duty arising under section 34 or 35 ceases to apply if before the start of the
journey the booking is either cancelled or accepted by another person.
(4) In this section and sections 34 to 36 as they apply to a case mentioned in
subsection (1)ó
ìthe driverî, ìthe bookingî and ìthe taxi driverís licenceî are respectively
the holder of the taxi driverís licence, the hire-vehicle booking and the
taxi-driverís licence mentioned in subsection (1);
ìthe journeyî means the journey to which the booking relates;
ìthe hiringî means the hiring to which the booking relates (and ìthe hirerî
means the hirer for the purposes of that hiring);
ìout of area hire-vehicle bookingî means a booking for a journey
startingó
(a) outside the area of the licensing authority that granted the taxi
driverís licence, or
(b) if that licensing authority has made a determination under
section 7 that its area is to be divided into taxi zones, within that
area but not within a zone specified in the taxi driverís licence;
ìpassengerî, when used in relation to a time before the start of the
journey, means an individual who at that time is expected by the driver
to be carried in the vehicle used to fulfil the booking.
34 Duty to acquire and record information about the booking
(1) The driver must, before the start of the journeyó
(a) acquire or otherwise be in possession of such information as may be
specified in regulations for the purposes of this paragraph; and
(b) make a record of the booking containing such information as may be
specified in regulations for the purposes of this paragraph.
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(2) Any information relating to the booking or the hiring may be specified for the
purposes of subsection (1)(a) or (b) including (among other things) any of the
followingó
(a) the identity of the hirer, the person who made the booking or a person
liable to pay the fare;
(b) the identity of a passenger;
(c) the place at which the journey is to start or end;
(d) any applicable booking fee (however described);
(e) the agreed price for the hiring (if any);
(f) the method of determining the fare (if no price is agreed before the start
of the journey);
(g) an estimate of the likely fare made in good faith (if no price is agreed
before the start of the journey);
(h) any assumptions made in giving such an estimate;
(i) any other terms applicable to the hiring.
(3) Regulations under subsection (1)(b) mayó
(a) provide for information to be specified information only if known by
the driver;
(b) provide for particular circumstances in which any information that
would not otherwise be specified is to be regarded as specified
information;
(c) provide for particular circumstances in which any information that
would otherwise be specified information is not to be regarded as
specified (and so need not be recorded); and
(d) specify the form in which specified information must be recorded in
order to comply with the duty to make a record of the booking.
(4) It is not a contravention of the duty under subsection (1)(b) for the record of the
booking to includeó
(a) information other than specified information, or
(b) information recorded before the duty to record it arises.
(5) If the driveró
(a) uses a licensed taxi to start the journey; and
(b) has not complied with a duty under subsection (1),
the driver is guilty of an offence.
(6) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (5), it is a defence for the driver
to show that it was not practicable to comply with the duty and that the
driveró
(a) took all reasonable steps to comply with the duty; and
(b) either complied with the relevant requirement as soon as practicable
after the start of the journey or took all reasonable steps to do so.
(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
35 Duty to give information about cost on request
(1) If before the start of the journey the hirer requests the driver to provide
information about the cost of the hiring, the driver must (unless a price for the
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journey is agreed) respond to the request by providing the hirer with one or
more of the followingó
(a) a proposed price for the journey;
(b) an estimate of the likely fare; or
(c) a description of the method to be used for determining the fare.
(2) It is immaterial for the purposes of subsection (1)ó
(a) whether the request for information was made before or after the
booking was made; and
(b) how the request for information is expressed.
(3) A response providing an estimate of the likely fare does not comply with the
duty under this section unless the estimate is given in good faith.
(4) The response may be given orally.
(5) Ifó
(a) the driver uses a licensed taxi to start the journey, and
(b) at that time the driver has failed to comply with the duty to respond to
a request under this section,
the driver is guilty of an offence.
(6) In proceedings for such an offence it is a defence for the driver to showó
(a) that before the start of the journey information that would satisfy the
duty to respond to the request was given to the hirer by another person;
or
(b) that it was not practicable for the driver to comply with the request
before the journey started but the driver took all reasonable steps to do
so.
(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
36 Duty to preserve records
(1) The driver mustó
(a) preserve any record required to be made under section 34(1)(b) for such
period as may be specified in regulations; and
(b) at the request of a constable or licensing officer, produce for inspection
any record required by that section to be kept.
(2) In subsection (1) ìlicensing officerî has meaning given by section 44(1).
(3) If the driver contravenes the duty under subsection (1) the driver is guilty of an
offence.
(4) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (3) it is a defence for the driver
to show that the driver took all reasonable steps to avoid committing such an
offence.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (3) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
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PART 5
FURTHER PROVISION ABOUT DISPATCHERS ETC
Duties of licensed dispatcher in relation to a hire-vehicle booking
37 Application and interpretation of sections 38 and 39
(1) Sections 38 and 39 apply to impose duties on the holder of a dispatcherís
licence in any case where the holder proposes to dispatch a particular licensed
driver to fulfil a hire-vehicle booking.
(2) It is immaterial whether the booking was originally accepted by the dispatcher
or another person.
(3) A duty arising under section 38 or 39 ceases to apply if before the start of the
journey the booking is either cancelled or accepted by another person.
(4) In this section and sections 38 to 42, as they apply in relation to a case
mentioned in subsection (1)ó
ìthe bookingî, ìthe dispatcherî, and ìthe driverî are respectively the hirevehicle booking, the holder of the dispatcherís licence and the licensed
driver mentioned in subsection (1);
ìthe journeyî means the journey to which the booking relates;
ìthe hiringî means the hiring to which the booking relates (and ìthe hirerî
means the hirer for the purposes of that hiring);
ìlicensed driverî means a holder of a PHV driverís licence or a taxi
driverís licence;
ìlicensed vehicleî means a licensed taxi or a licensed private hire vehicle;
ìpassengerî, used in relation to a time before the start of the journey,
means an individual who at that time is expected by the dispatcher to
be carried in the vehicle used to fulfil the booking.
38 Duty to acquire and record information about the booking
(1) The dispatcher must, before the start of the journeyó
(a) acquire or otherwise be in possession of such information as may be
specified in regulations for the purposes of this paragraph; and
(b) make a record of the booking containing such information as may be
specified in regulations for the purposes of this paragraph.
(2) Any information relating to the booking or the hiring may be specified for the
purposes of subsection (1)(a) or (b) including (among other things) any of the
followingó
(a) the identity of the hirer, the person who made the booking or a person
liable to pay the fare;
(b) the identity of a passenger;
(c) the identity of the driver;
(d) the place at which the journey is to start or end;
(e) any applicable booking fee (however described);
(f) the agreed price for the hiring (if any);
(g) the method of determining the fare (if no price is agreed before the start
of the journey);
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(h) an estimate of the likely fare made in good faith (if no price is agreed
before the start of the journey);
(i) any assumptions made in giving such an estimate;
(j) any other terms applicable to the hiring;
(k) information about any arrangements made by the dispatcher for
fulfilling the booking or for fulfilling bookings of a description which
covers the booking.
(3) Regulations under subsection (1)(b) mayó
(a) provide for information to be specified information only if known by
the dispatcher;
(b) provide for particular circumstances in which any information that
would not otherwise be specified is to be regarded as specified
information;
(c) provide for particular circumstances in which any information that
would otherwise be specified information is not to be regarded as
specified (and so need not be recorded); and
(d) specify the form in which specified information must be recorded in
order to comply with the duty to make a record of the booking.
(4) It is not a contravention of the duty under subsection (1)(b) for the record of the
booking to includeó
(a) information other than specified information, or
(b) information recorded before the duty to record it arises.
(5) Ifó
(a) the driver is dispatched by the dispatcher to fulfil the booking;
(b) the driver uses a licensed vehicle to start the journey; and
(c) the dispatcher has not complied with a duty under subsection (1),
the dispatcher is guilty of an offence.
(6) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (5), it is a defence for the
dispatcher to show that it was not practicable to comply with the duty and that
the dispatcheró
(a) took all reasonable steps to comply with the duty; and
(b) either complied with the relevant requirement as soon as practicable
after the start of the journey or took all reasonable steps to do so.
(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
39 Duty to give information about cost on request
(1) If before the start of the journey the hirer requests the dispatcher to provide
information about the cost of the hiring, the dispatcher must (unless a price for
the journey is agreed) respond to the request by providing the hirer with one
or more of the followingó
(a) a proposed price for the journey;
(b) an estimate of the likely fare;
(c) a description of the method to be used for determining the fare.
(2) It is immaterial for the purposes of subsection (1)ó
(a) whether the request for information was made before or after the
booking was made; and
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(b) how the request for information is expressed.
(3) A response providing an estimate of the likely fare does not comply with the
duty under this section unless given in good faith.
(4) A response may be given orally.
(5) Ifó
(a) the driver is dispatched by the dispatcher to fulfil the booking,
(b) the driver uses a licensed vehicle to start the journey, and
(c) at that time the dispatcher has failed to comply with the duty to
respond to a request under this section,
the dispatcher is guilty of an offence.
(6) In proceedings for such an offence it is a defence for the dispatcher to showó
(a) that before the start of the journey information that would satisfy the
duty to respond to the request was given to the hirer by another person;
or
(b) that it was not practicable for the dispatcher to comply with duty to
respond to the request before the journey started and the dispatcher
took all reasonable steps to do so.
(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
40 Effect of change of driver before start of journey
(1) This section applies where the dispatcher has dispatched a licensed driver
(ìAî) to fulfil the booking but later a different licensed driver (ìBî) is
dispatched to fulfil the same booking (in place of A), whether by the dispatcher
or by another person holding a dispatcherís licence.
(2) If B is dispatched by the dispatcher, sections 37 to 42 apply again with
references to the driver being read as references to B (but the dispatcher may
comply with the duty under section 38(1)(b) by keeping or amending an
existing record or by making a new record).
(3) If B is dispatched by another person holding a dispatcherís licence, the
dispatcher ceases to be under any duty under sections 38 to 42 (but without
prejudice to the application of those duties to that other person).
Duties of licensed dispatcher to keep and preserve records
41 Duty to keep records
(1) The holder of a dispatcherís licence must (in addition to the records required
by section 38(1)(b))ó
(a) keep such records as may be specified in regulations of particulars of
the private hire vehicles and private hire drivers which are available to
the dispatcher to fulfil hire-vehicle bookings accepted by the
dispatcher; and
(b) keep such other records in connection with the dispatcherís activities as
may be specified in regulations.
(2) If the dispatcher fails to comply with the duty under subsection (1) the
dispatcher is guilty of an offence.
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(3) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (2) it is a defence for the
dispatcher to show that the dispatcher took all reasonable steps to avoid
committing such an offence.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (2) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
42 Duty to preserve records
(1) The dispatcher mustó
(a) preserve any records required to be made under section 38(1)(b) or 41
for such period as may be specified in regulations; and
(b) at the request of a constable or licensing officer, produce for inspection
any record required by that section to be kept.
(2) In subsection (1) ìlicensing officerî has the meaning given by section 44(1).
(3) If the dispatcher fails to comply with the duty under subsection (1) the
dispatcher is guilty of an offence.
(4) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (3) it is a defence for the
dispatcher to show that the dispatcher took all reasonable steps to avoid
committing such an offence.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (3) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
Duty of person accepting a hire-vehicle booking to give information to the hirer
43 Duty of person accepting a hire-vehicle booking to give information to the
hirer
(1) This section applies where a person (ìAî) accepts a hire-vehicle booking from
the hirer or from another person who accepted the booking (and it is
immaterial how or by whom the booking is to be fulfilled).
(2) For this purpose a person accepts a hire-vehicle booking by accepting
responsibility for the fulfilment of the booking, otherwise than in the course of
being dispatched by another person to fulfil it.
(3) If the hirer requests A to state either or both of the followingó
(a) whether another person accepted the booking from A, or
(b) whether A dispatched a driver to fulfil the booking,
A must respond to the request by giving the hirer the information required by
this section within the period for compliance.
(4) That duty does not apply to a request madeó
(a) after the end of the period of 3 months beginning with the day on which
the booked journey starts;
(b) after the booking is fulfilled, in a case where it is fulfilled by the holder
of a taxi driverís licence using a licensed taxi.
(5) The period for compliance is the period of 14 days beginning with the day on
which the request was made.
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(6) The response to a request to state whether another person accepted the
booking must, if the answer is that another person accepted it from A,
includeó
(a) the name of the other person; and
(b) if the other person is the holder of a dispatcherís licence, the licence
number and the name of the licensing authority that granted it.
(7) The response to a request to state whether A dispatched a driver mustó
(a) if A dispatched a driver, include the name of the driver, the type of
driverís licence under this Act held by the driver and the name of the
licensing authority that issued it; and
(b) if another person accepted the booking from A, include the information
about the other person mentioned in subsection (6).
(8) The response must be in writing.
(9) If A fails to comply with the duty under subsection (3) to respond to a request
by giving the hirer the required information within the period for compliance,
A is guilty of an offence.
(10) In proceedings for such an offence, it is a defence for A to showó
(a) that it was not practicable to comply with the duty in time but A took
all reasonable steps to do so; and
(b) that A either gave the hirer the required information as soon as
practicable after the end of the period for compliance or took all
reasonable steps to do so.
(11) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (9) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
PART 6
ENFORCEMENT
Licensing officers and licensing authority stopping officers
44 Authorisation of officers
(1) In this Part, references to a licensing officer are references to a person
authorised by a licensing authority for the purposes of this Part.
(2) A licensing authority may authorise a licensing officer to carry out the
functions of a licensing authority stopping officer under sections 49, 50 and 53
and regulations under section 51.
(3) A licensing authority may not authorise a person to carry out the functions of
a licensing authority stopping officer unless the authority is satisfied that the
person meets the criteria for authorisation specified in regulations.
(4) Regulations under subsection (3) may, in particular, specify criteria relating to
training or qualifications.
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45 Offences
(1) It is an offence to intentionally obstruct a licensing officer, or a licensing
authority stopping officer, in the exercise of the officerís powers under this
Part.
(2) It is an offence for a person to make any statement or to otherwise act in a way
that is calculated falsely to suggest that the person isó
(a) a licensing officer, or
(b) a licensing authority stopping officer.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
Investigative powers
46 ìLicence holderî
In this Part, ìlicence holderî means a person who holdsó
(a) a taxi driverís licence,
(b) a PHV driverís licence,
(c) a dispatcherís licence,
(d) a taxi licence, or
(e) a private hire vehicle licence.
47 Provision of information and documents
(1) A licensing officer or a constable in uniform may require a licence holder toó
(a) provide information for the purpose of ascertaining whether the licence
holder complies withó
(i) the provisions of this Act, and
(ii) the licence conditions specified in regulations under section
19(1) in respect of the licence;
(b) produce the licence for inspection.
(2) A licensing officer or a constable in uniform may require the holder of a taxi
licence or a taxi driverís licence to provide information for the purpose of
ascertaining whether the licence holder complies with the local licence
conditions.
(3) But a licensing officer may only exercise the power under subsection (2) where
the home licensing authority in relation to the licensing officer is the same asó
(a) where the requirement relates to the holder of a taxi licence, the home
licensing authority in relation to the taxi;
(b) where the requirement relates to the holder of a taxi driverís licence, the
home licensing authority in relation to the taxi driver.
(4) In subsection (2) ìlocal licence conditionsî meansó
(a) in the case of the holder of a taxi licence, the conditions set under
section 19(2) to which the taxi licence is subject;
(b) in the case of the holder of a taxi driverís licence, the conditions set
under section 19(2) to which the taxi driverís licence is subject.
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(5) A licensing officer or a constable in uniform may require the holder of a taxi
licence or a private hire vehicle licence to produce for inspection the certificate
of the policy of insurance or security required in respect of the vehicle by Part
VI of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (third-party liabilities).
(6) Information or a document that is not provided or produced at the time of the
request must be provided or produced by the licence holder within such
period, and at such place, as the licensing officer or constable may reasonably
require.
(7) A person who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with a request under
this section commits an offence.
(8) A person commits an offence if, in providing information requested under this
section, the person makes a statement that the person knows, or has reason to
suspect, is untrue.
(9) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
48 Inspection and testing: vehicles and taximeters
(1) A licensing officer or a constable in uniform may inspect and testó
(a) a licensed taxi or a licensed private hire vehicle, and any taximeter
affixed to the vehicle, for the purpose of ascertaining whether it
complies with the licence conditions specified in regulations under
section 19(1);
(b) a licensed taxi for the purpose of ascertaining whether it complies with
the licence conditions set under section 19(2) to which the taxi licence is
subject;
(c) a taximeter affixed to a licensed taxi or a licensed private hire vehicle
for the purpose of assessing its accuracy.
(2) But a licensing officer may only exercise the power under subsection (1)(b)
where the home licensing authority in relation to the licensing officer is the
same as the home licensing authority in relation to the taxi.
(3) Subsection (4) applies where the licensing officer or constableó
(a) is not satisfied that the taxi or private hire vehicle complies with the
licence conditions, or
(b) is not satisfied as to the accuracy of the taximeter.
(4) The licensing officer or constable may by notice require the relevant licence
holder to make the taxi, private hire vehicle or taximeter available for further
inspection and testing.
(5) A notice under subsection (4) must specify the time and place of the further
inspection and testing.
(6) In subsection (4) the reference to the ìrelevant licence holderî is a referenceó
(a) in the case of a licensed taxi, to the person who holds the taxi licence;
(b) in the case of a private hire vehicle, to the person who holds the private
hire vehicle licence.
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Powers to stop and detain vehicles
49 Power to stop licensed taxis and licensed private hire vehicles
(1) A licensing authority stopping officer may direct the driver of a vehicle, which
appears to the officer to be a licensed taxi or a licensed private hire vehicle, to
stop the vehicle.
(2) The power conferred by subsection (1) may be exercised for the purpose of
enabling the licensing authority stopping officer to carry out any of the
functions conferred on the officer by sections 47 and 48.
(3) A person who fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a direction of a
licensing authority stopping officer under this section is guilty of an offence.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (3) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
50 Power to stop and detain regulated vehicles: touting
(1) This section applies where a licensing authority stopping officer has reasonable
grounds for believing that a person is soliciting, or has solicited, another
person to hire a regulated vehicle (whether or not it is a licensed taxi or a
licensed private hire vehicle) in contravention of section 70.
(2) The licensing authority stopping officer mayó
(a) if the vehicle is in motion, direct the driver of the vehicle to stop the
vehicle;
(b) detain the vehicle.
(3) The powers conferred on an licensing authority stopping officer by this section
may be exercised only at a time when regulations under section 51 are in force.
51 Retention etc. of vehicles detained under section 50
(1) Regulations may make provision as toó
(a) the removal and retention of vehicles, and the contents of vehicles,
detained under section 50, and
(b) the release or disposal of those vehicles and their contents.
(2) The Schedule makes further provision about regulations under subsection (1).
(3) In this section and the Schedule references to the ìcontentsî of a vehicle do not
include references to the personal effects of any individual.
52 Regulations: power to stop and detain regulated vehicles being used in
contravention of section 4
(1) Regulations may provide that a constable in uniform, an examiner appointed
under section 66A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 or an officer appointed under
section 66B of that Act mayó
(a) direct the driver of a regulated vehicle to stop the vehicle, and
(b) detain a regulated vehicle where the constable or officer has reasonable
grounds for believing that the vehicle is being, has been or is about to
be used as a hire vehicle in contravention of section 4.
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(2) Regulations may make provision as toó
(a) the removal and retention of vehicles, and the contents of vehicles,
detained under this section, and
(b) the release or disposal of those vehicles and their contents.
(3) Regulations under subsection (2) may make provision of a kind required or
permitted to be made (in respect of vehicles detained by licensing authority
stopping officers under section 50) by any provision of the Schedule.
53 Power to move vehicles on
(1) A licensing authority stopping officer may give a direction to move on whereó
(a) a licensed taxi or a licensed private hire vehicle is waiting (whether on
its own or with other licensed taxis or licensed private hire vehicles) in
a public place (the ìrelevant placeî), and
(b) at least one of Conditions 1 to 3 is satisfied.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a ìdirection to move onî is a direction to the
driver of the licensed taxi or licensed private hire vehicle to move the vehicle
from the relevant place immediately.
(3) Condition 1 is tható
(a) the licensing authority stopping officer considers that there is a
reasonable likelihood that a person may be led to believe, by reason of
the taxi or private hire vehicle waiting at the relevant place, that the
vehicle may be used as a hire vehicle on a journey which begins there
and then, and
(b) the driver could not agree to use the vehicle in such a way without
contravening section 6.
(4) Condition 2 is that the licensing authority stopping officer considers that the
taxi or private hire vehicle is causing an unnecessary obstruction.
(5) Condition 3 is tható
(a) the relevant place is in close proximity to a place designated as a taxi
rank under section 26, and
(b) the licensing authority stopping officer considers that, by waiting at the
relevant place, the driver of the taxi or private hire vehicle is attempting
to prevent the hire of a vehicle waiting at the taxi rank.
(6) A person who fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a direction of a
licensing authority stopping officer under this section is guilty of an offence.
(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (6) is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
Suspension and revocation of licences
54 Power of licensing authority to suspend or revoke licences
(1) A licensing authority may suspend or revoke a licence it has granted under
section 16 ifó
(a) the holder of the licence has failed to comply with any condition to
which the licence is subject by virtue of section 19,
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(b) the holder of the licence has failed to comply with any provision of this
Act, or
(c) there is any other reasonable cause to suspend or revoke the licence.
(2) A licensing authority may also revoke a licence it has granted under section 16
at the request of the holder of the licence.
(3) A licensing authority which decides to suspend or revoke a licence under this
section must give to the holder of the licence notice ofó
(a) the decision, and
(b) except in the case of a decision to revoke under subsection (2), the
reasons for the decision.
(4) A revocation or suspension under subsection (1) takes effect at the end of the
period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the notice under subsection
(3) is served on the holder of the licence; but this is subject to subsection (5) and
section 64(8) and (9).
(5) If a licensing authority is of the opinion that the interests of public safety
require a suspension or revocation under subsection (1) to have immediate
effect, and the notice under subsection (3) includes a statement of that opinion
and the reasons for it, the suspension or revocation takes effect when the notice
is served on the holder of the licence.
(6) A revocation under subsection (2) takes effect when the notice under
subsection (3) is served on the holder of the licence.
(7) A licence suspended under this section remains suspended until such time as
the licensing authority which suspended it by notice directs that the licence is
again in force.
Cross-border enforcement
55 ìHome licensing authorityî
(1) In this Part ìhome licensing authorityî meansó
(a) in relation to a person who is a licensing officer, the licensing authority
that authorised the person for the purposes of this Part;
(b) in relation to a licensed taxi, the licensing authority that granted the taxi
licence;
(c) in relation to a licensed private hire vehicle, the licensing authority that
granted the private hire vehicle licence;
(d) in relation to the driver of a licensed taxi, the licensing authority that
granted the taxi driverís licence;
(e) in relation to the driver of a licensed private hire vehicle, the licensing
authority that granted the PHV driverís licence;
(f) in relation to a person who holds a dispatcherís licence, the licensing
authority that granted the dispatcherís licence.
56 ìCross-border enforcement conditionsî
(1) For the purposes of sections 57 and 59, the cross-border enforcement
conditions are tható
(a) a licensing officer has exercised powers under section 47 or 48 in
relation to a licence holder,
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(b) the home licensing authority in relation to the licensing officer is not the
same as the home licensing authority in relation to the licence holder,
and
(c) subsection (2), (3) or (4) applies.
(2) This subsection applies where the licensing officer considers that the licence
holder has failed to comply withó
(a) a provision of this Act, or
(b) the licence conditions specified in regulations under section 19(1) in
relation to the licence.
(3) This subsection applies where the powers under section 47 have been exercised
and the licence holder has failed to comply with a request to produce
information or a document within the period specified in section 47(6).
(4) This subsection applies where the powers under section 48(1)(c) have been
exercised and the licensing officer is not satisfied as to the accuracy of the
taximeter.
57 Suspension of a licence with immediate effect
(1) A licensing officer may suspend a licence whereó
(a) the cross-border enforcement conditions are satisfied in respect of the
licence holder, and
(b) the licensing officer is of the opinion that the interests of public safety
require the licence to be suspended with immediate effect.
(2) The licensing officer must give notice to the licence holder of the suspension of
the licence under this section (an ìimmediate suspension noticeî).
(3) The immediate suspension notice mustó
(a) state the information specified in subsection (4),
(b) state that the licensing officer is of the opinion that the interests of
public safety require the suspension of the licence to have immediate
effect, and
(c) specify the reasons for that opinion.
(4) The information for the purposes of subsection (3)(a) isó
(a) in a case within section 56(2), each of the provisions or conditions with
which the licensing officer considers that the licence holder has failed
to comply;
(b) in a case within section 56(3), the request with which the licence holder
has failed to comply;
(c) in a case within section 56(4), the reason why the licensing officer is not
satisfied as to the accuracy of the taximeter.
(5) The suspension of the licence takes effect when the notice is served on the
licence holder.
(6) The licensing officer must give a copy of the notice to the licence holderís home
licensing authority.
(7) The copy must be given before the end of the period of 14 days beginning with
the day on which the licensing officer gave the immediate suspension notice.
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58 Licence suspension: determination by home licensing authority
(1) This section applies where a licensing authority receives a copy of an
immediate suspension notice under section 57(6).
(2) The licensing authority must determine eitheró
(a) that the licence is to remain suspended (until such time as the licensing
authority directs that the licence is again in force), or
(b) that the suspension is to cease to have effect.
(3) A licensing authority must give notice of the determination toó
(a) the holder of the licence to which the determination relates, and
(b) the home licensing authority in relation to the licensing officer who
suspended the licence under section 57.
(4) The notice must specifyó
(a) the determination made by the licensing authority under this section,
and
(b) the reasons for that determination.
(5) The notice must be given before the end of the period of 14 days beginning with
the day on which the copy of the immediate suspension notice was given
under section 57(6).
59 Enforcement notice
(1) This section applies whereó
(a) the cross-border enforcement conditions are satisfied in relation to a
licence holder, and
(b) the licensing officer has not exercised the power under section 57 to
suspend the licence.
(2) The licensing officer must give an enforcement notice toó
(a) the licence holder, and
(b) the licence holderís home licensing authority.
(3) An enforcement notice is a notice statingó
(a) the information specified in subsection (4), and
(b) the recommended enforcement action (if any).
(4) The information for the purposes of subsection (3) isó
(a) in a case within section 56(2), each of the provisions or conditions with
which the licensing officer considers that the licence holder has failed
to comply;
(b) in a case within section 56(3), the request with which the licence holder
has failed to comply;
(c) in a case within section 56(4), the reason why the licensing officer is not
satisfied as to the accuracy of the taximeter.
(5) In this sectionó
(a) ìenforcement actionî means the exercise of any power of a licensing
authority under this Part;
(b) ìrecommended enforcement actionî means the enforcement action that
the licensing officer considers appropriate for the licence holderís home
licensing authority to take in respect of the failure to comply with the
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provisions, conditions or request or, as the case may be, the inadequate
accuracy of the taximeter.
(6) The notice must be given before the end of the period of 21 days beginning
withó
(a) where the licensing officer exercised powers under section 47ó
(i) the day on which the period specified by the licensing officer for
the purposes of section 47(6) expires, or
(ii) where no such period was specified, the day on which the
request for the provision of information or production of a
document was made;
(b) where the licensing officer exercised powers under section 48, the day
on which the inspection or testing was carried out.
60 Enforcement action: determination by home licensing authority
(1) This section applies where a licensing authority receives an enforcement notice
under section 59(2).
(2) The licensing authority must determine whether toó
(a) take the recommended enforcement action (if any),
(b) take other enforcement action, or
(c) take no further action in respect of the licence holder.
(3) A licensing authority must give notice of the determination toó
(a) the holder of the licence to which the determination relates, and
(b) the home licensing authority in relation to the licensing officer that
gave notice under section 59(2).
(4) The notice must specifyó
(a) the determination made by the licensing authority, and
(b) the reasons for that determination.
(5) The notice must be given before the end of the period of 21 days beginning with
the day on which the enforcement notice was given.
Fixed penalties
61 Fixed penalty offences
(1) This section applies where on any occasion an authorised officer has reason to
believe that a person has on that occasion committed a fixed penalty offence.
(2) The authorised officer may give the person a notice (a ìfixed penalty noticeî)
offering the person the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction
for that offence by payment of a fixed penalty.
(3) A ìfixed penalty offenceî is a specified offence underó
(a) a provision of this Act, or
(b) regulations made under section 19(1) and 20(2) (licence conditions).
(4) In subsection (3), ìspecifiedî means specified in regulations for the purposes of
this section.
(5) Regulations may specify the amount of the fixed penalty for an offence.
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(6) But the regulations may not specify that the fixed penalty for an offence is an
amount exceeding half of the maximum amount of the fine to which a person
committing that offence would be liable on summary conviction.
(7) In this section ìauthorised officerî means a person authorised by a licensing
authority for the purposes of this section.
62 Fixed penalty notices
(1) Where a person is given a fixed penalty notice under section 61 in respect of an
offenceó
(a) no proceedings shall be instituted for that offence before the end of the
period of 28 days beginning with the date on which the notice is given
or such longer period as may be specified in the notice, and
(b) the person shall not be convicted of the offence if the person pays the
fixed penalty before the end of that period.
(2) A fixed penalty notice under this section must give particulars of the
circumstances alleged to constitute the offence.
(3) A fixed penalty notice must stateó
(a) the period during which, by virtue of subsection (1), proceedings will
not be taken for the offence,
(b) the amount of the fixed penalty,
(c) the name of the person to whom and the address at which the fixed
penalty may be paid, and
(d) the consequences of not making any payment within the period for
payment.
(4) Regulations may make provision about the form of notices under this section.
Return of licences etc
63 Return of licences etc
(1) Where a licence granted under this Act by a licensing authority expires or is
revoked the holder of the licence must, within the period of 7 days beginning
with the day the licence expires or the revocation takes effect, return the items
mentioned in subsection (4) to the licensing authority.
(2) Where a licence granted under this Act by a licensing authority is suspended,
the licensing authority or a licensing officer may give a notice to the holder of
the licence requiring the holder, within the period of 7 days beginning with the
day the notice is given, to return any of the items mentioned in subsection (4)
to the authority or officer.
(3) Where a licence granted under this Act by a licensing authority is revoked or
suspended with immediate effect by virtue of section 54(5) or 57, the holder of
the licence must, at the request of a licensing officer, immediately return the
items mentioned in subsection (4) to the officer.
(4) The items areó
(a) the licence;
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(b) in a case where the licence is a taxi driverís licence or a PHV driverís
licence, the badge issued under subsection (4)(a) of section 16 to the
holder of the licence;
(c) in a case where the licence is a taxi licence or a private hire vehicle
licence, the plate issued under subsection (4)(b) of that section for the
vehicle concerned.
(5) A person who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with any requirement
under this section is guilty of an offence.
(6) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
convictionó
(a) to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, and
(b) in the case of a continuing offence, to a fine not exceeding one-tenth of
level 1 on the standard scale for each day during which an offence
continues after conviction.
(7) Whereó
(a) the holder of a taxi licence or private hire vehicle licence fails to comply
with a requirement under subsection (1) or (2), or
(b) a taxi licence or private hire vehicle licence is revoked or suspended
with immediate effect by virtue of section 54(5) or 57,
a licensing officer may remove and retain from the vehicle concerned the plate
issued under subsection (4)(b) of section 16.
PART 7
APPEALS
64 Appeal to magistratesí court etc against decisions of licensing authorities
(1) This section applies where a licensing authorityó
(a) decides to refuse an application made under section 13;
(b) decides under section 54(1) to suspend or revoke a licence;
(c) decides under section 58(2) that a licence is to remain suspended.
And in this section references to ìthe aggrieved personî are to the applicant or
(as the case may be) the holder of the licence.
(2) The aggrieved person may within 21 days from the date on which notice of the
decision is served on him or heró
(a) require the licensing authority to reconsider its decision, or
(b) appeal to a magistratesí court.
(3) The aggrieved person may exercise the right under subsection (2)(a) by giving
the licensing authority notice of the exercise of the right.
(4) If the aggrieved person exercises the right under subsection (2)(a)ó
(a) the aggrieved person is entitled to be heard (either in person or through
a representative) when the licensing authority reconsiders its decision,
(b) the licensing authority must give notice of its decision on
reconsideration to the aggrieved person, and
(c) if the aggrieved person is dissatisfied with the decision of the licensing
authority on reconsideration, he or she may appeal to a magistratesí
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court within 21 days from the date notice under paragraph (b) is served
on him or her.
(5) An appeal to a magistratesí court under this section is to be by way of
complaint for an order and the Magistratesí Court Act 1980 applies to
proceedings on the appeal.
(6) The aggrieved person or the licensing authority may appeal to the Crown
Court against a decision of a magistratesí court on an appeal under this section.
(7) Where on appeal a court varies or reverses the decision of the licensing
authority the order of the court must be given effect to by the licensing
authority.
(8) Where a licensing authority decides under section 54(1) to suspend or revoke
a licence and the person who holds the licence exercises the right under
subsection (2)(a), the suspension or revocation does not take effect untiló
(a) the licensing authority has reconsidered its decision, and
(b) the time for appealing under subsection (4)(c) has expired or (where an
appeal is brought) the appeal is disposed of or withdrawn.
(9) Where a licensing authority decides under section 54(1) to suspend or revoke
a licence and the person who holds the licence appeals under subsection (2)(b)
the suspension or revocation does not take effect until the appeal is disposed
of or withdrawn.
(10) Subsections (8) and (9) do not apply in relation to a decision of a licensing
authority to suspend or revoke a licence if the notice of suspension or
revocation includes a statement that in the authorityís opinion the interests of
public safety require the suspension or revocation to have immediate effect.
65 Appeal to county court against decisions of licensing authorities
(1) This section applies where a licensing authority decidesó
(a) to set criteria under section 14;
(b) to revise any criteria it has set under that section;
(c) to set conditions under section 19;
(d) to revise any conditions it has set under that section.
(2) A person may appeal to the county court against the decision ifó
(a) the person holds a taxi driverís licence or a taxi licence granted by the
authority, or
(b) the county court considers that the person has a sufficient interest in the
decision.
(3) But an appeal may only be brought within the period of 3 months beginning
with the day on which the licensing authority published the criteria or revised
criteria under subsection (4) of section 14 or (as the case may be) published the
conditions or revised conditions under subsection (4) of section 19.
(4) On an appeal under this section the court may confirm, quash or vary the
decision.
(5) In considering whether to confirm, quash or vary the decision the court is to
apply the principles applied by the High Court on an application for judicial
review.
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66 Appeal to Upper Tribunal against senior traffic commissionerís objection to
grant of licence
A person who applies foró
(a) a taxi licence for an opt-in vehicle, or
(b) a private hire vehicle licence for an opt-in vehicle,
may appeal to the Upper Tribunal against a decision of the senior traffic
commissioner to object under section 17(3) to the grant of the licence.
PART 8
MISCELLANEOUS AND SUPPLEMENTARY
67 Duty to notify licensing authority of change in ownership of licensed vehicle
(1) This section applies if the ownership of a licensed taxi or licensed private hire
vehicle changes.
(2) The holder of the taxi licence or (as the case may be) private hire vehicle licence
must within 14 days of the relevant date give notice of the change and the name
and address of the new owner to the licensing authority which granted the
licence.
(3) In subsection (2) ìrelevant dateî meansó
(a) the date of the change of ownership, or
(b) if later, the date the holder of the licence becomes aware of the change.
(4) A person who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes this section is guilty of
an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on
the standard scale.
68 Prohibition on certain signs etc on vehicles
(1) There must not be displayed on or from any unlicensed vehicleó
(a) any sign which consists of or includes the word ìtaxiî, ìtaxisî, ìcabî or
ìcabsî or any word so closely resembling any of those words as to be
likely to be mistaken for it (whether alone or as part of another word),
or
(b) any sign, notice or other feature which may suggest that the vehicle is
a licensed taxi or a licensed private hire vehicle.
(2) There must not be displayed on or from any licensed private hire vehicleó
(a) any sign which consists of or includes the word ìtaxiî or ìtaxisî or any
word so closely resembling either of those words as to be likely to be
mistaken for it (whether alone or as part of another word), or
(b) any sign, notice or other feature which may suggest that the vehicle is
a licensed taxi.
(3) The display on or from a licensed private hire vehicle of any sign, notice or
other feature which consists of or includes the word ìcabî or ìcabsî does not
by itself amount to a contravention of subsection (2)(b).
(4) A person commits an offence if the personó
(a) drives a vehicle in respect of which subsection (1) or (2) is contravened,
or
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(b) causes or permits that subsection to be contravened in respect of any
vehicle.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(6) In this section ìunlicensed vehicleî means a vehicle which is neither a licensed
taxi nor a licensed private hire vehicle.
69 Prohibition on certain advertisements
(1) This section applies to any advertisement indicating that vehicles can be hired
from any person or by any means.
(2) The advertisement must not, in referring to the vehicles offered for hire, useó
(a) the word ìtaxiî or ìtaxisî, or
(b) any word so closely resembling either of those words as to be likely to
be mistaken for it,
(whether alone or as part of another word), unless the vehicles offered for hire
are licensed taxis.
(3) A person who publishes, or causes to be published, an advertisement which
contravenes this section is guilty of an offence.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(5) In proceedings for an offence under this section it is a defence to show tható
(a) the defendant is a person whose business it is to publish or arrange for
the publication of advertisements,
(b) the defendant received the advertisement in question for publication in
the ordinary course of business, and
(c) the defendant did not know and had no reason to suspect that its
publication would amount to an offence under this section.
(6) In this section ìadvertisementî includes every form of advertising (whatever
the medium) and references to the publication of an advertisement are to be
construed accordingly.
70 Touting
(1) It is an offence, in a public place, to solicit a person to hire a vehicle to carry the
person as a passenger.
(2) It is immaterial for the purposes of subsection (1) whether the soliciting relates
to a particular vehicle.
(3) Displaying a for-hire sign on a vehicle does not amount to soliciting for the
purposes of subsection (1).
(4) It is not an offence under subsection (1) to solicit a person to hire a licensed taxi
if the soliciting is permitted by a scheme under section 10 of the Transport Act
1985 (scheme for shared taxis) whether or not supplemented by provision
made under section 13 of that Act (modifications of the taxi code).
(5) It is not an offence under subsection (1) to solicit a person to hire a licensed taxi
or a licensed private hire vehicle ifó
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(a) the soliciting occurs in a place which is designated for the purposes of
this section by the licensing authority in whose area the place is
situated, and
(b) such conditions as are specified in the designation are complied with.
(6) A designation under subsection (5) may be varied or revoked by the licensing
authority that made it.
(7) A licensing authority that has made a designation under subsection (5) mustó
(a) publish the designation;
(b) if it varies the designation, publish the designation as varied;
(c) if it revokes the designation, publish notice of the revocation.
(8) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) it is a defence to show that
the defendant was soliciting for passengers to be carried at separate fares by
public service vehicles on behalf of the holder of a PSV operatorís licence for
those vehicles whose authority the defendant had at the time of the alleged
offence.
(9) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to a fine.
(10) In this section ìPSV operatorís licenceî has the same meaning as in Part 2 of the
Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981.
71 Power of neighbouring licensing authorities to combine their areas etc
(1) Regulations may make provision for, and in connection with, enabling two or
more licensing authorities to make a joint determination that any reference in
any relevant provision to the area of a licensing authority is to be read, in the
case of each of the licensing authorities making the determination, as a
reference to the combined area of both or (as the case may be) all of those
authorities.
(2) Regulations may make provision for, and in connection with, enabling two or
more licensing authorities to make a joint determination that any reference in
any relevant provision to the area of a licensing authority is to be read, in the
case of one of the authorities making the determination, as a reference to an
area comprising that authorityís area and all or a specified part of the other
authorityís area or (as the case may be) the other authoritiesí areas.
(3) Regulations under this section may in particular make provisionó
(a) specifying conditions which must be met before a joint determination
is made under this section;
(b) specifying any consultation that must be undertaken before a joint
determination is made under this section;
(c) modifying the application of any provision made by or under this Act
in relation to licensing authorities that have made a joint determination
under this section.
(4) In this section ìrelevant provisionî means a provision made by or under this
Act which is specified in regulations made under this section.
(5) This section does not affect any power which a licensing authority may have
by virtue of any other enactment.
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72 Public service vehicles
(1) The Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 1 (definition of public service vehicle)ó
(a) after subsection (2) insertó
ì(2A) A vehicle within paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (1) shall be
treated as not being a public service vehicle ifó
(a) it is adapted to carry no more than 16 passengers, and
(b) it is a stretch limousine or other novelty vehicle within
the meaning of section 2 of the Taxis and Private Hire
Vehicles Act 2014.
(2B) A vehicle within paragraph (a) of subsection (1) shall be treated
as not being a public service vehicle ifó
(a) it is an opt-in vehicle within the meaning of the Taxis
and Private Hire Vehicles Act 2014 (see section 2(7) of
that Act), and
(b) it is a vehicle in respect of which a taxi licence or a
private hire vehicle licence granted under that Act is in
force.î;
(b) after subsection (6) insertó
ì(7) In determining for the purposes of this section the number of
passengers that a vehicle is adapted to carry, a space within the
vehicle is not to be disregarded by reason only of the fact that it
is located next to the driverís seat or is separated by a partition
from the rest of the vehicle.î
(3) In section 14ZC(1) (requirements for grant of PSV operatorís licence)ó
(a) before paragraph (a) insertó
ì(za) that the vehicles proposed to be used under the licence
are properly to be regarded as public service vehicles;î;
(b) in paragraph (a)ó
(i) after ìmaintainingî insert ìthose vehiclesî;
(ii) omit ìthe vehicles proposes to be used under the licenceî.
PART 9
GENERAL
73 Regulations
(1) A reference in this Act to regulations is a reference to regulations made by
statutory instrument by the Secretary of State.
(2) A statutory instrument containingó
(a) regulations under section 14,
(b) regulations under section 19, or
(c) regulations under section 76 which amend an Act,
may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and
approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
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(3) A statutory instrument containing regulations under this Act, other than
regulations within subsection (2) or regulations under section 77, is subject to
annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
(4) Before making regulations under section 7, 14, 18 or 19 the Secretary of State
mustó
(a) appoint a panel in accordance with subsection (7),
(b) consult the panel,
(c) have regard to the recommendations made by the panel in response to
the consultation, and
(d) publishó
(i) those recommendations, and
(ii) if the Secretary of State proposes not to accept any of those
recommendations, a statement of the Secretary of Stateís
reasons.
(5) Before making regulations under section 7 or 18 the Secretary of State must
alsoó
(a) carry out a public consultation,
(b) have regard to the responses to the consultation, and
(c) publish a summary of the responses.
(6) But subsections (4) and (5) do not apply before the making of regulations (ìthe
new regulationsî) ifó
(a) the sole purpose of the new regulations is to make amendments to
regulations previously made under the same section as the new
regulations, and
(b) the Secretary of State considers that it is appropriate for the
requirements of those subsections to be dispensed with in view of the
minor nature of the amendments.
(7) A panel appointed under subsection (4) must consist ofó
(a) people appearing to the Secretary of State to represent the interests ofó
(i) people who may be expected to apply for a licence under this
Act,
(ii) people who hire licensed taxis or licensed private hire vehicles,
(iii) licensing authorities,
(iv) highway authorities,
(v) police forces,
(vi) disabled people, and
(b) such other people as the Secretary of State thinks fit.
(8) Regulations under this Act mayó
(a) make different provision for different purposes, circumstances or cases;
(b) contain incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary
provision.
74 References to the owner of a vehicle
(1) For the purposes of this Act the owner of a vehicle is to be taken to be the
person by whom it is kept.
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(2) In determining, in the course of any proceedings for an offence under this Act,
who was the owner of a vehicle at any time it is to be presumed that the owner
was the person who was the registered keeper of the vehicle at that time.
(3) But despite that presumptionó
(a) it is open to the defence to show that the person who was the registered
keeper of a vehicle at any particular time was not the person by whom
the vehicle was kept at that time; and
(b) it is open to the prosecution to prove that the vehicle was kept at that
time by some person other than the registered keeper.
(4) In this section ìregistered keeperî, in relation to a vehicle, means the person in
whose name the vehicle was registered under the Vehicle Excise and
Registration Act 1994.
75 Interpretation
(1) In this Actó
ìdisabled personî has the same meaning as in the Equality Act 2010;
ìfareî includes any payment to be made in respect of the hire of a licensed
taxi or licensed private hire vehicle (subject to section 31(8));
ìa for-hire signî is a sign on a vehicle which indicates that it is
immediately available for hire;
ìlicensed taxiî means a vehicle in respect of which a taxi licence granted
under section 16 is in force;
ìlicensed private hire vehicleî means a vehicle in respect of which a
private hire vehicle licence granted under section 16 is in force;
ìopt-in vehicleî has the meaning given by section 2(7);
ìpublic placeî includes any highway and any other premises or place to
which the public have or are permitted to have access (whether on
payment or otherwise);
ìpublic service vehicleî has the same meaning as in the Public Passenger
Vehicles Act 1981;
ìregulationsî has the meaning given by clause 73.
(2) In this Act a reference to the holder of a licence is to the person to whom the
licence was granted; but this is subject to section 24(2).
76 Repeals and consequential provision
(1) The following enactments (which are superseded by this Act) are repealedó
(a) the London Hackney Carriage Act 1831;
(b) the London Hackney Carriages Act 1843;
(c) sections 37 to 68 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847;
(d) the London Hackney Carriages Act 1850;
(e) the London Hackney Carriage Act 1853;
(f) the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869;
(g) the London Cab and Stage Carriage Act 1907;
(h) Part 2 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976;
(i) section 65 of the Transport Act 1980;
(j) section 167 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994;
(k) the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998;
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(l) Part 3 of the Transport for London Act 2008.
(2) Regulations may make such provision as the Secretary of State considers
appropriate in consequence of this Act.
(3) Regulations under subsection (2) may, in particular, amend, repeal, revoke or
otherwise modify any provision made by or under an enactment.
77 Extent, commencement and short title
(1) This Act extends to England and Wales only, subject to subsection (2).
(2) Subsections (2) and (3) of section 76 also extend to Scotland.
(3) This section comes into force on the day on which this Act is passed.
(4) The other provisions of this Act come into force on such day or days as the
Secretary of State may by regulations appoint.
(5) Regulations under subsection (4) mayó
(a) appoint different days for different purposes;
(b) include transitional provision and savings.
(6) This Act may be cited as the Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Act 2014.
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Schedule ó Vehicles detained under section 50: supplementary provisions
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SCHEDULE Section 51
VEHICLES DETAINED UNDER SECTION 50: SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS
REMOVAL AND DELIVERY OF VEHICLE
Removal and delivery of vehicle to nominated custodian
1 (1) Regulations under section 51 (ìthe regulationsî) may make provision for a
licensing authority stopping officer to direct that a vehicle detained by the
officer under section 50 is to be removed and delivered into the custody of a
person (the ìnominated custodianì) specified in the direction.
(2) The regulations mayó
(a) provide for the contents of a vehicle detained under section 50 to be
delivered into the custody of the nominated custodian, and
(b) make provision about the steps to be taken in respect of any personal
effects remaining on the vehicle before the vehicle is delivered into
the custody of the nominated custodian.
(3) The nominated custodian must be a person whoó
(a) meets such requirements as may be specified by the regulations,
(b) has made arrangements with the Secretary of State, and
(c) has agreed to accept delivery of the vehicle and its contents in
accordance with those arrangements.
(4) Arrangements falling within sub-paragraph (3)(b) may include provision for
making a payment to the nominated custodian.
(5) The regulations may provide that a licensing authority stopping officer who
has given a direction under sub-paragraph (1) in respect of a vehicle may
permit the driver of the vehicle to take any passengers who have been
travelling in the vehicle to their destination, or to a place that is suitable to
enable them to continue their journey, before delivering the vehicle into the
custody of the nominated custodian.
Information about the detention of a vehicle etc.
2 (1) The regulations may make provision about informing the owner of a vehicle,
and such other persons as may be specifiedó
(a) that the vehicle has been detained;
(b) that the vehicle and its contents have been removed and delivered to
a nominated custodian.
(2) The regulations mayó
(a) require a licensing authority stopping officer to give notice of the
detention of the vehicle, and
(b) make provision about the content of the notice.
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Schedule ó Vehicles detained under section 50: supplementary provisions
Immobilisation ó Immobilisation
46
IMMOBILISATION
ìImmobilisation deviceî
3 In this Schedule ìimmobilisation deviceî means a device or applianceó
(a) designed or adapted to be fixed to a vehicle for the purpose of
preventing it from being driven or otherwise put in motion, and
(b) approved by the Secretary of State for the purposes of section 104 of
the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.
Immobilisation of vehicles
4 (1) The regulations may provide that, before a vehicle is removed in accordance
with provision made under paragraph 1, a licensing authority stopping
officer mayó
(a) fix an immobilisation device to the vehicle in the place where the
vehicle has been detained, or
(b) move the vehicle, or require it to be moved, to a more convenient
place and fix an immobilisation device to the vehicle in that other
place.
(2) The regulations may provideó
(a) that, on any occasion when an immobilisation device is fixed to a
vehicle, the person fixing the device must also fix to the vehicle an
immobilisation notice (see sub-paragraph (3)), and
(b) that a vehicle to which an immobilisation device has been fixed may
only be released from the device by or under the direction of a
licensing authority stopping officer.
(3) In this paragraph ìimmobilisation noticeî means a noticeó
(a) indicating that an immobilisation device has been fixed to the
vehicle,
(b) warning that no attempt should be made to drive the vehicle or
otherwise put it in motion, and
(c) containing such other information as may be specified.
(4) The regulations may provide that an immobilisation notice may not be
removed or interfered with except by or on the authority of a licensing
authority stopping officer.
Immobilisation: offences
5 (1) The regulations may provideó
(a) that it is an offence for an unauthorised person to remove or attempt
to remove an immobilisation device fixed to a vehicle in accordance
with regulations made under paragraph 4(1), and
(b) that a person who commits such an offence is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(2) In sub-paragraph (1) ìunauthorised personî means a person who is not
authorised to release the vehicle in accordance with regulations under
paragraph 4(2)(b).
(3) The regulations may provideó
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Immobilisation ó Immobilisation
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(a) that it is an offence to remove or interfere with an immobilisation
notice in contravention of regulations made under paragraph 4(4),
and
(b) that a person who commits such an offence is liable on summary
conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.
RETURN OF DETAINED VEHICLE
Application to licensing authority for the return of the vehicle
6 (1) The regulations must make provision enabling an eligible person to apply to
the relevant licensing authority for the return of a vehicle that has been
removed in accordance with provision made under paragraph 1.
(2) In this paragraph ìeligible personî means, in relation to a vehicleó
(a) the owner of the vehicle;
(b) the registered keeper of the vehicle;
(c) in the case of a licensed taxi, the person who holds the taxi licence or
the taxi driverís licence;
(d) in the case of a licensed private hire vehicle, the person who holds the
private hire vehicle licence or the PHV driverís licence.
(3) In sub-paragraph (2)(b) ìregistered keeperî has the meaning given by
section 74(4).
7 (1) The regulations may, in particularó
(a) require notice of an application to be given to the relevant licensing
authority within such period as may be determined in accordance
with the regulations;
(b) require notice of an application to be made in the specified form.
(2) The regulations must specify the grounds upon which an eligible person
may apply for the return of the vehicle.
(3) The specified grounds must include each of the followingó
(a) that, at the time the vehicle was detained, the vehicle was not being,
had not been and was not about to be used in contravention of
section 70;
(b) that, although at the time the vehicle was detained it was being, had
been or was about to be used in contravention of section 70, the
person applying for the return of the vehicle did not know that it was
being, or had been, so used;
(c) that, although knowing at the time the vehicle was detained that it
was being, had been or was about to be used in contravention of
section 70, the person applying for the return of the vehicleó
(i) had taken steps with a view to preventing that use, and
(ii) has taken steps with a view to preventing any further such
use.
(4) In this paragraph ìrelevant licensing authorityî means the home licensing
authority in relation to the licensing authority stopping officer that exercised
the power to detain the vehicle under section 50.
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Return of detained vehicle ó Return of detained vehicle
48
Hearings by a licensing authority
8 (1) The regulations must make provisionó
(a) enabling a licensing authority to hold a hearing before determining
an application made under paragraph 6,
(b) as to the time within which the hearing must be held, and
(c) subject to such provision as may be made by the regulations, for the
hearing to be held in public.
(2) The regulations must also provide that, if no hearing is held, the application
must be determined by a licensing authority within a specified period.
Consequences of a licensing authorityís determination
9 The regulations must provide tható
(a) if a licensing authority determines that one or more of the grounds
specified under paragraph 7(2) is made out, the authority may order
the nominated custodian to return the vehicle to the person who
applied for the return of the vehicle, and
(b) if a licensing authority determines that none of those grounds is
made out, the vehicle may be sold or destroyed by the nominated
custodian, in such manner as may be specified.
Appeals
10 (1) The regulations must provide for a person who has made an application in
accordance with provision made under paragraph 6 to have a right of appeal
to a magistratesí court against a determination of a licensing authority to
refuse that application.
(2) The regulations may include provision aboutó
(a) the period within which an appeal may be made;
(b) the grounds on which an appeal may be made;
(c) the procedure for making an appeal;
(d) the persons who must be notified of an appeal;
(e) the powers of the court to which an appeal is made.
False statement
11 (1) The regulations may provide that it is an offence to make a statement for the
purposes of an application under paragraph 6 or a hearing under paragraph
8 that the person knows, or has reason to believe, is untrue.
(2) The regulations may provide that a person who is guilty of an offence under
regulations made under sub-paragraph (1) is liable on summary conviction
to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
Return of vehicle without an application
12 The regulations may make provision authorising a vehicle removed in
accordance with provision made under paragraph 1 to be returned to the
owner, in specified circumstances, without an application under paragraph
6.
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49
Sale or destruction of vehicle where no application made under paragraph 6
13 The regulations may provide that, if no application is made in respect of a
vehicle to a licensing authority in accordance with regulations made under
paragraph 6, the vehicle may be sold or destroyed in the specified manner.
SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS
Custody of property
14 (1) The regulations may provide that the nominated custodian may retain
custody of a vehicle and its contents untiló
(a) the vehicle and its contents are returned, in accordance with the
regulations, to the owner, or
(b) the vehicle and its contents are sold or destroyed by the nominated
custodian in the specified manner.
(2) The regulations must provide that while a vehicle and its contents are in the
custody of a nominated custodian, it is the duty of the nominated custodian
to take such steps as are necessary for the safe custody of the vehicle and its
contents.
Proceeds of sale
15 The regulations must provide for the proceeds of sale of any property sold
under regulations made under paragraph 9, 13 or 14(1)(b)ó
(a) to be applied towards meeting expenses incurred by a licensing
authority stopping officer in exercising functions under section 50 or
this Schedule, and
(b) in so far as they are not so applied, to be applied in such other
manner as may be specified.
266
267
APPENDIX B
LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS
CHAPTER 2 – RETAINING THE TWO TIER SYSTEM
Recommendation 1
We recommend retaining the two-tier system. Regulation should continue to
distinguish between taxis, which can be hailed or use ranks, and private hire
vehicles, which can only be pre-booked. (Page 16)
CHAPTER 3 – REFORM OF DEFINITIONS AND SCOPE
Recommendation 2
We recommend that the offences relating to plying for hire should be abolished.
We propose replacing the concept of plying for hire with a new scheme of
offences, resting on the principal prohibition of carrying passengers for hire
without a licence, alongside a new offence making it unlawful for anyone other
than a local taxi driver to accept a journey starting “there and then”. (Page 22)
Recommendation 3
We recommend a statutory definition of pre-booking in order to create a clear
distinction between the work of a taxi in its licensing area and the work of a
private hire vehicle. (Page 22)
Recommendation 4
We recommend that the term “hackney carriage” should be replaced in
legislation with the word “taxi”. The term “private hire vehicle” should remain
unchanged. (Page 24)
Recommendation 5
We recommend that only the providers of licensed taxi services should be
allowed to describe themselves using the term “taxi” on vehicles or in advertising
materials. (Page 24)
Recommendation 6
Operators across England and Wales (dispatchers under our Bill) should be
under a duty to provide a price or an an estimate of the fare on request, as is
already the case in London. (Page 26)
Recommendation 7
We recommend that taxis picking up passengers outside their licensing area
should be subject to a pre-booking requirement, which would be statutorily
defined for the first time. This would require provision of an estimate of the price
for the journey in advance, if requested, and record-keeping obligations. These
requirements could be further refined through national standards as set by the
Secretary of State. (Page 32)
268
Recommendation 8
We do not recommend the introduction of record-keeping requirements in respect
of taxis except where they are picking up passengers outside their licensing area.
(Page 32)
Recommendation 9
We recommend that local authority stopping officers should have a new
enforcement power to require licensed vehicles to move on where the officer
considers that:
(1) there is a reasonable likelihood that the public may believe the vehicle is
available for immediate hire;
(2) the vehicle is causing an obstruction to traffic flow; or
(3) the driver is attempting to take work away from ranked taxis. (Page 33)
Recommendation 10
We recommend introducing a new offence which makes it unlawful for anyone
other than a locally licensed taxi driver to accept a booking for a journey starting
there and then. (Page 34)
Recommendation 11
We recommend that compellability should be retained in its current form. It
should be open to licensing authorities to express compellability as a time or
distance from the point of hire, or as extending to the boundaries of a licensing
zone. Licensing authorities should also be able to extend the compellable
distance up to seven miles beyond the boundary of the licensing area, or twenty
miles in the case of Transport for London. (Page 37)
Recommendation 12
Licensing authorities should have the power to make a determination that in their
areas, taxis should be under a duty to stop when hailed. In such areas, it would
be an offence for a taxi driver in a vehicle displaying a “for hire” sign to fail to stop
in response to a hail, without reasonable excuse. (Page 38)
Recommendation 13
Licensing authorities should be under a duty to consult on the need to alter rank
provision; and to consider whether new ranks should be appointed, or current
ones moved or removed, on a periodic basis not exceeding every three years.
(Page 39)
Recommendation 14
We recommend that those acting in the course of a business who pass taxi or
private hire bookings to providers who they know or suspect to be unlicensed
should be guilty of an offence. (Page 41)
269
Recommendation 15
We do not propose to require intermediaries working solely with licensed taxis
(which we refer to as “radio circuits”) to be licensed. (Page 44)
Recommendation 16
We recommend that licensed operators (in future to be referred to in legislation
as “dispatchers”) should be retained as a necessary element of the regulation of
private hire services. (Page 46)
Recommendation 17
We recommend that operator licensing should only cover dispatch functions, and
no longer apply to the invitation or acceptance of bookings as such. However, if it
is shown that an individual or company accepted a hire vehicle booking, a
presumption should arise that that person also “dispatched” the driver. This
ensures the continued accountability of those who, in the course of business,
accept hire vehicle bookings from the public. (Page 48)
Recommendation 18
It should also be an offence, in the course of business, to dispatch an unlicensed
vehicle or driver. It would also be an offence for a person to dispatch a private
hire vehicle and driver unless that person holds a dispatcher’s licence. It would
be a defence if the driver and vehicle were reasonably believed to hold
appropriate taxi licences. (Page 48)
Recommendation 19
Persons accepting a hire vehicle booking in the course of business should be
under a duty to provide information to the hirer in respect of any person on to
whom they passed the booking. (Page 48)
CHAPTER 4 – DEFINITIONS AND SCOPE
Recommendation 20
We recommend that our proposed reforms should extend to all of England and
Wales, including London and Plymouth. (Page 55)
Recommendation 21
Taxi and private hire licensing should cover vehicles regardless of their form or
construction, including non-motorised vehicles. (Page 57)
Recommendation 22
We recommend that taxi and private hire licensing requirements should only
cover services provided for commercial gain. (Page 63)
Recommendation 23
We recommend that taxi and private hire licensing should not cover the carriage
of a passenger as an ancillary or incidental part of another service. (Page 63)
270
Recommendation 24
We recommend that, for the purposes of taxi, private hire and public service
vehicle legislation, all passenger seats and spaces capable of carrying a standing
passenger should be included when assessing vehicle carrying capacity. (Page
66)
Recommendation 25
We recommend that consideration be given to revising the criteria for licensing a
vehicle as a “small public service vehicle” , making them more clearly centred on local
bus services. (Page 67)
Recommendation 26
We recommend extending the reach of taxi and private hire licensing to larger
vehicles in two circumstances:
(a) on a mandatory basis, in respect of stretch limousines and
novelty vehicles; and
(b) on an optional basis, where providers want to use larger vehicles
in a taxi or private hire business. (Page 70)
Recommendation 27
We recommend that the Secretary of State should have the power to exempt
certain categories of vehicle or services used to carry passengers for hire from
the requirement to hold a taxi or private hire licence. Licensing authorities would,
however, retain the power to impose licensing requirements on vehicles used as
taxis within their local licensing area. (Page 71)
Recommendation 28
We recommend that wedding and funeral cars should continue to be exempt from
taxi and private hire licensing while the vehicle is being used in connection with a
wedding or a funeral. (Page 74)
Recommendation 29
Non-professional use of licensed taxi and private hire vehicles, including by nonprofessional drivers, should be permitted, subject to a rebuttable presumption
that such vehicles are being used professionally when they are carrying
passengers. (Page 77)
CHAPTER 5 – COMMON NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR TAXI AND PRIVATE
HIRE
Recommendation 30
We recommend the introduction of national standards for taxi and private hire
services. (Page 80)
Recommendation 31
National standards should promote enforcement, protection of the environment
271
and accessibility, in addition to safety. (Page 82)
Recommendation 32
National standards for taxi services should be comparable but not necessarily
identical to national standards for private hire services. (Page 82)
Recommendation 33
We recommend that driver and vehicle standards should be set in secondary
legislation by the Secretary of State. (Page 84)
Recommendation 34
The standard setting power of the Secretary of State should be subject to a
statutory consultation requirement. (Page 91)
Recommendation 35
We recommend that the ability to apply for a vehicle licence should no longer be
restricted to vehicle owners. (Page 93)
Recommendation 36
Applicants for vehicle licences should not be subject to a fit and proper person
test. (Page 95)
Recommendation 37
We recommend that licensing authorities should not have a general power to
impose individual conditions on the holders of taxi or private hire licences. (Page
98)
CHAPTER 6 – CRIMINAL OFFENCES SPECIFIC TO THE TAXI AND PRIVATE
HIRE TRADES
Recommendation 38
We recommend that the Secretary of State should exercise the standard setting
power to provide that a conviction for specified offences is a breach of a licensing
condition, or incompatible with eligibility to hold a licence. (Page 101)
Recommendation 39
The Secretary of State should have the power to designate specific licence
conditions, breach of which will amount to a criminal offence. (Page 102)
CHAPTER 7 – NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE HIRE
Recommendation 40
Private hire services should only be subject to national standards. Licensing
authorities should no longer have the power to impose local conditions. (Page
104)
Recommendation 41
We recommend that dispatchers should continue to be subject to fit and proper
person requirements as part of national standards. (Page 105)
272
Recommendation 42
We recommend that dispatchers should be subject to a statutory duty to maintain
records in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State. (Page 107)
Recommendation 43
Signage requirements for private hire vehicles should form part of the national
standards determined by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State should
impose requirements that aim to ensure that the public are able to distinguish
easily between taxis and private hire vehicles. (Page 112)
Recommendation 44
We recommend that operator/dispatchers should no longer be restricted to
working only with drivers and vehicles whose licences are issued by the same
licensing authority as the dispatcher. (Page 115)
Recommendation 45
Dispatchers should have the ability to sub-contract bookings to any dispatcher in
England and Wales. (Page 117)
CHAPTER 8 – LOCAL TAXI STANDARDS
Recommendation 46
We recommend that licensing authorities should retain the power to set local taxi
standards over and above national standards. (Page 120)
Recommendation 47
Licensing authorities should be required to consult on additional licensing
conditions for taxi drivers and vehicles. (Page 121)
CHAPTER 9 – TAXI FARE REGULATION
Recommendation 48
Licensing authorities should retain the ability to regulate taxi fares, in respect of
any journey within the compellable distance. (Page 125)
Recommendation 49
A taxi driver should be allowed to charge more than the metered fare for journeys
starting inside the licensing area and ending beyond the compellable distance
only if this is agreed in advance. In the case of pre-booked journeys starting
outside the compellable distance the price or an estimate should be given on
request and, if so, recorded. (Page 125)
Recommendation 50
We recommend that licensing authorities should retain the power to regulate
fares charged for pre-booked taxi journeys. However, there should be no power
to regulate third party booking fees, provided these are agreed in advance. (Page
130)
273
CHAPTER 10 – ADMINISTRATION OF THE LICENSING SYSTEM
Recommendation 51
The principle of cost recovery should continue to apply in respect of taxi and
private hire licensing fees. (Page 134)
Recommendation 52
Licensing authorities should be able to collect and use licensing fees from taxi
and private hire licensing only for the following purposes:
(2) administration of the licensing system (including but not limited to
processing applications for granting or renewing licences and carrying out
inspections and tests);
(2) statutorily required reviews of fare levels, rank provision, accessibility and
existing quantity restrictions at least every three years;
(2) enforcement of the licensing system including but not limited to the control
and supervision of taxi and private hire services (whether licensed or
unlicensed) and activities associated with suspending or revoking licences;
and
(2) providing taxi ranks. (Page 134)
Recommendation 53
We recommend that the Secretary of State should set a private hire licensing fee
which could not be varied locally. Taxi licensing fees should continue to be set
locally, but at a level no lower than the national private hire fee. (Page 135)
Recommendation 54
We recommend that the Secretary of State should have the power to set up a
system of pooling private hire licence fees nationally, for the purposes of
redistributing these to reflect enforcement needs, in accordance with such a
scheme as may be prescribed. (Page 136)
Recommendation 55
Licensing authorities should have the power to combine their taxi and private hire
licensing areas. (Page 138)
Recommendation 56
We recommend that licensing authorities should be under a duty to publish their
driver, vehicle and operator licensing data in such form as the Secretary of State
may require. (Page 140)
Recommendation 57
Licensing authorities should have a more flexible power to introduce and remove
taxi licensing zones. This power would permit removal or introduction of zones
within a licensing district. The power should be subject to consultation and a
statutory public interest test. (Page 143)
274
CHAPTER 11 – QUANTITY RESTRICTIONS
Recommendation 58
We recommend that licensing authorities should continue to have the power to
limit the number of taxi vehicles licensed in their area. (Page 159)
Recommendation 59
The power of licensing authorities to impose quantity restrictions should be
subject to a statutory public interest test. Further, the Secretary of State should
have regulation-making powers prescribing how the statutory test should be
applied. (Page 162)
Recommendation 60
Decisions to restrict taxi numbers should be reviewed at least every three years
and be subject to local consultation in accordance with such procedures as may
be prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State. (Page 162)
Recommendation 61
In licensing areas where quantity restrictions already exist at the time of the
introduction of our reforms, but not in other areas, vehicle licence holders should
continue to be able to transfer their taxi licences at a premium. (Page 166)
CHAPTER 12 – ACCESSIBILITY
Recommendation 62
We recommend that taxi and private hire drivers be required to undergo disability
awareness training of a standard set by the Secretary of State. (Page 170)
Recommendation 63
We recommend that the Secretary of State require information on how to
complain about taxi and private hire vehicle services to be displayed in taxi and
private hire vehicles. (Page 171)
Recommendation 64
We recommend that local licensing authorities should display complaint
information in offices, libraries and on websites.

We recommend that licensing authorities conduct an accessibility review at three
year intervals.
We recommend that the Secretary of State require holders of taxi and private hire
driver licences and dispatcher licences to comply with the Equality Act 2010 as a
condition of the licence.

We recommend that licensing authorities should reconsider rank design to
ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010.

We recommend that licensing conditions should provide that information about
the licensing authority and local operators should be provided in alternative
formats, as well as information about the types of vehicle available in their area.

We recommend that the Secretary of State should have the power to impose
accessibility requirements on large operator/dispatchers. In particular, the power
should permit the setting of quotas of accessible vehicles which must be
available to such dispatchers.
CHAPTER 13 – ENFORCEMENT

We recommend that licensing officers who have been suitably trained and
accredited should be given the power to stop licensed taxi and private hire
vehicles in a public place for the purpose of checking compliance with licensing
requirements.

The offence of touting should be retained. It should continue to be an offence of
broad application which extends to all persons, whether licensed or unlicensed.

We recommend that there should be a new defence to touting, where the
solicitation is in respect of a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle, if the soliciting
occurs in a place which has been designated by that licensing authority for that
purpose, and that conditions as may be specified by the licensing authority have
been complied with.

We recommend that the Sentencing Council consider amending the Magistrate’s
Court Sentencing Guidelines in respect of taxi touting to take into account the
vulnerability of the persons solicited as a relevant factor in sentencing.

Recommendation 74
We recommend that licensing authorities should have the power to impound
vehicles used in connection with touting.
Recommendation 75
Fixed penalties should be among the sanctions available in respect of minor
criminal offences under taxi and private hire legislation.

We recommend extending the power to suspend licences immediately on
grounds of public safety to all licence types, in line with the current position in
London. (Page 196)
Recommendation 77
Licensing officers should be able to take non-criminal enforcement action against
vehicles, drivers and operators, licensed outside their licensing area. (Page 198)
Recommendation 78
We recommend that powers to revoke a licence should be available only to the
licensing authority which issued that licence. However, enforcement officers in
another area should have the power to:
(a) suspend a licence when they consider this to be necessary in
the interests of public safety; and
(b) make recommendations to the home licensing authority as to
appropriate sanctions, to which the home authority must have regard.
(Page 200)
CHAPTER 14 – HEARINGS AND APPEALS
Recommendation 79
The right to appeal against refusals to grant or renew taxi and private hire
licences or to suspend or revoke them should be limited to the applicant or
licence holder.
Recommendation 80
We recommend that the first stage in the appeal process in respect of refusals,
suspensions or revocations of licences should be the right to require licensing
authorities to reconsider the original decision. Appellants should have the right to
bypass this stage and proceed direct to the magistrates’ court. (Page 206)
Recommendation 81
We recommend that all taxi and private hire licensing appeals should be heard in
the magistrates’ court.
Recommendation 82
We recommend the retention of an onward right of appeal to the Crown
Court.
Recommendation 83
We recommend that applicants for a vehicle licence for an opt-in vehicle should
have a right of appeal to the Upper Tribunal if their application is refused on the
basis of an objection by the Senior Traffic Commissioner. (Page 210)
Recommendation 84
We recommend that a County Court judicial review procedure along the lines
provided under the Housing Act 1996 should be available to challenge taxi
conditions set by licensing authorities.

APPENDIX C
ADVISORY GROUP
Law Commission
Frances Patterson QC Commissioner, Public law team
Richard Percival Team manager, Public law team
Vindelyn Smith-Hillman Economist
Jessica Uguccioni Team lawyer, Public law team
Hannah Gray Research assistant, Public law team
Trade associations
Paul Brent Chairman, National Taxi Association
Bob Oddy General Secretary, Licensed Taxi Drivers
Association
Patrick Connor National Taxi Trades Group
Tommy McIntyre National Taxi Representative, Unite the
Union
Mick Carty RMT
Bryan Roland General Secretary, National Private Hire
Association
Steve Wright MBE Chairman, Licensed Private Hire Car
Association
Patrick Raeburn Private Hire Board
Mick Hildreth Secretary, GMB Professional Drivers
National Organising Committee
Bill Bowling Legislation officer, National Limousine
and Chauffeur Association
Geoffrey Riesel Chairman, Radio Taxis Group –
representing radio circuit operators.
Julian Francis Government Affairs Manager, London
Taxi Company
Donald Pow General Manager, Allied Vehicles
Deborah Hunter Sales and Marketing Director, Digitax
Electronics UK Ltd.

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