Chapter 1: Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing
Chapter 2: Licensing Within Local Government and Transport for London
Chapter 3: Appeals
Chapter 4: Fees for Licences
Chapter 5: Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
Chapter 6: Enforcement Outside London
Chapter 7: Hackney Carriages Outside London: An Introduction
Chapter 8: Hackney Carriage Vehicles Outside London: Definition and Demand
Chapter 9: Hackney Carriages Outside London: The Use of Hackney Carriages
Chapter 10: Hackney Carriage Drivers Outside London
Chapter 11: Private Hire Vehicles Outside London: An Introduction
Chapter 12: Private Hire Operators Outside London
Chapter 13: Private Hire Vehicles Outside London
Chapter 14: Private Hire Drivers Outside London
Chapter 15: Enforcement Within London
Chapter 16: Hackney Carriages Within London: An Introduction
Chapter 17: Hackney Carriage Vehicles Within London: Definition and Demand
Chapter 18: The Use of Hackney Carriages Within London
Chapter 19: Hackney Carriage Drivers Within London
Chapter 20: Private Hire Vehicles Within London: An Introduction
Chapter 21: Private Hire Operators Within London
Chapter 22: Private Hire Vehicles Within London
Chapter 23: Private Hire Drivers Within London
James Button is a solicitor and principal of James Button and Co which is a niche licensing, environmental health and public health practice. Formerly a local authority solicitor, he has almost 20 years experience of taxi licensing. He is the President of the Institute of Licensing. He is a well-known and popular lecturer, specialising in licensing and environmental health issues, and has written and contributed to many other works.
From the Preface
This book is a departure from what has gone before in two significant ways: firstly, the two previous editions of 'Taxis - Licensing Law and Practice' were published by LexisNexis Butterworths; but in late 2004 the title transferred to the new publishing venture of Tottel Publishing, and this new edition is the first under that publishing house. Secondly, this new edition is also the first to use the title 'Button on Taxis'. I am most grateful to Tottel Publishing for agreeing to publish a third edition under the new title.
whilst important for the publishers and myself as author, neither of those changes will have any practical impact for the reader, who will be asking what is new, different and improved over the second edition?
Almost five years have passed since the second edition was published, and there have been significant developments in hackney carriage and private hire licensing both outside and within London. Indeed the split between London and the rest of England and Wales is one of the significant alterations in this new edition: in the second edition each substantive chapter addressed the situation outside London, followed by the situation within the metropolis, but user feedback reported this as being somewhat confusing, and accordingly there is now clear separation between the law relating to the provinces and the law relating to Greater London.
With a view to increasing the ease of use of the book, two tables have been added in Chapter 8 which summarise the case law in relation to standing and plying for hire, and limitation of numbers. It is hoped that these will aid the practitioner when referencing these complex and case-heavy topics.
Unfortunately the intervening period since the second edition has not seen any wholesale reform of hackney carriage or private hire law. The basis of hackney carriage licensing outside London is now 161 years old, and although this is slightly younger than the London legislation which dates from 1831, neither regime can be considered as modern. Provincial private hire legislation (which remains adoptive) has been available for 32 years, and even the 'new' Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 is now a decade old.
This leaves elderly legislation failing to keep up with modern developments -mobile telephones and the Internet are just two examples - requiring the courts to adjudicate on interpretation and usage which should properly be addressed by legislation.
The most significant change has been the introduction of Guidance by the Department for Transport in respect of both hackney carriage and private hire licensing generally', and stretched limousines in particular'. This represents an attempt to provide some cohesive guidance for the 350 or so local authorities that undertake taxi licensing. Whether it is ultimately successful remains to be seen.
The courts have been busy with taxi matters, providing new material for the busy practitioner to interleave with the legislation and previous case law.
The question of whether a person who accepted bookings for hackney carriages required a private hire operator's licence, which has been a vexed question for many years, was finally addressed and determined in Brentwood Borough Council v Gladen; although the point has recently been considered in R (app Newcastle City Council) v Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council, and may yet be further addressed in a forthcoming appeal involving Wrexham County Borough Council. The fact that the decision in Gladen may not be the final word on the point was anticipated by Collins J in his judgment where he stated':
'It is only surprising that it has not been expressly decided in the - whatever it is - 28 years that this has been in force. We have now decided it, rightly or wrongly.'
The decision in R (app Newcastle City Council) v Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council demonstrates how difficult the interpretation and use of the law has become, and is another example of the aged legislation being found wanting.
While the Government refuses to remove the ability of local authorities to limit hackney carriage numbers, local authorities are increasingly choosing such a course of action, following both the Office of Fair Trading report in 2003, and the Best Practice Guidance published in 2006, both of which suggest delimitation as the best course. Many such decisions by local authorities lead to challenge, and the cases of R (on the application of Johnson) v Reading Borough Council and Sardar v Watford Borough Council are both considered in this new edition.
A case which links to delimitation and which has a significant impact upon those who are considering making an application for a hackney carriage proprietor's licence is Key Cabs Ltd T/A Taxi fast v Plymouth City Council, which concluded that an applicant must own (or at least have an interest in) any vehicle for which an application is made.
Plying for hire is still a thorny and ultimately unresolved issue, and the decision in Chorley Borough. Council v Thomas has done nothing to clarify the law, leading to uncertainty amongst both hackney carriage and private hire trades and enforcement officers.
Raising the standard of both hackney carriage and private hire drivers has been the aim of many local authorities for a number of years, and the introduction of the Driving Standards Agency Taxi Test has generally been seen as a positive step in this direction. This requirement was challenged in Darlington BC v Kaye and was held to be a reasonable requirement.
The ability of local authorities to take action against drivers whose conduct is unacceptable has been bolstered by both the introduction of immediate suspension or revocation by s 52 of the Road Safety Act 2006 (which introduced subss (2A) and (2B) to s 61 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976), and the decision in R v Chester Crown Court (app Wrexham CBC) which follows the line of cases which started with R v Maidstone Crown Court, ex p Olson
Another confused and confusing area of taxi licensing enforcement concerns insurance, and three cases have addressed this - Telford v Wrekin Borough Council v Alnned, Singh v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Sedgefield Borough Council v Crowe - although the conclusions that it is a matter of fact in every case have not actually provided the clarification many would wish to see.
The introduction of immediate suspension or revocation of driver's licences has been mentioned already, and the other legislative change is the removal of the so-called 'seven day contract exemption' by the repeal of s 75(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 by s 53 of the Road Safety Act 2006. This has also attracted guidance from the Department for Transport', but the overall effect of this repeal remains unclear and unsatisfactory.
The principal alteration has been the amendment to the definition of private hire vehicle contained in s 1(1) of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 by s 54 of the Road Safety Act 2006 to replicate the repeal of s75(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 within London. Again, the success or otherwise of this remains to be seen.
Otherwise, the superior courts do not appear to have been overly exercised by hackney carriage and private hire matters since the last edition.
The law is stated as at 1 November 2008.