Increased police powers in relation to road traffic law have done very little to help those who drive for a profession. Road Law Barristers represent all types of professional driver, however this article focuses on issues particular relevant for taxi and private hire drivers.
It’s often not a straightforward process obtaining a taxi licence and the problems don’t necessarily end there. Councils have a range of possible sanctions at their disposal to deal with alleged breaches of licence conditions. Some sanctions have little to no impact on the driver’s ability to earn a living, e.g. informal warnings and formal written warnings.
However, taxi licences are suspended and revoked by Councils weekly. In Leeds, for example, 14 drivers were struck off between January and August 2013 with full licence revocations for alleged breaches of their licence conditions.
Your first thoughts
It isn’t easy to present your case in defence of such allegations. Whether you are accused of plying for hire, over-charging or dishonesty, the following should be your first considerations:
1) Have the Council been clear with you about what you are accused of? You are entitled to know exactly what is alleged so that you and your representative can answer appropriately;
2) What evidence does the Council have? You will usually receive a document referred to as the “report,” how thorough is this? You are entitled to know how they put the case against you in good time (normally at least 10 days prior to the licensing committee hearing);
3) What evidence do you have which might rebut the allegations against you? If you do not have sufficient time to gather evidence which could help you present your defence, ask the licensing committee for an adjournment of the hearing to enable you to do so.
Don’t just accept what is put to you!
There are any number of additional considerations, which will all depend on the particular circumstances of your case. The key message we want to communicate is that you need not just accept the breach process as it is presented to you. You have the right to challenge evidence, this is enshrined in the Human Rights Act 1998.
Finally, if you do not get the result you want, serious consideration needs to be given to an appeal to the Magistrates’ Court. The appeal court has the power to overturn a decision that you are unhappy with. If you would like to appeal you need to act fast, as strict time limits apply.
If your licence is your livelihood we can help to protect it.