Taxi Driver Online FAQ – Legal issues
Please note that the following is for guidance only, and is provided without obligation. If in doubt, seek professional advice.
1. What is the difference between a Hackney carriage and Private hire vehicle?
Hackney carriage vehicles are licensed under different legislation than PHV, namely the 1847 Town Police Clauses act. Private hire vehicles are licensed under the 1976 Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions act, excepting Plymouth and London who have their own legislative acts.
A hackney Carriage is licensed to ply for hire on the public highway and at fixed Taxi stands in the prescribed area of the licensing authority. A Hackney carriage cannot ply for hire in an area it is not licensed for.
With the exception of London, who has its own distinct method of licensing, hackney carriage vehicles and drivers are normally regulated by the local council.
Licensed Private hire vehicles and drivers are prohibited from undertaking any form of public hire. Every hire must be booked privately and this is normally done through some form of telecommunications to a Private hire office, which in turn allocates the booking to a designated driver.
2. Can anyone apply for a Hackney Carriage or PHV Drivers License?
Anyone can apply for both types of license as long as they have held a full Driving license for at least twelve months. (Established by appeal in 2001 by unnamed Appellant v Carmarthenshire County Council) Hackney Carriage Drivers must be regulated by way of "Bye-Laws" in accordance with s68 Town Police Clauses Act 1847. The observation was also made in respect of Private hire drivers and the 1976 local Government Miscellaneous provisions act.
3. Can anyone apply for a Hackney Carriage or PHV proprietor's license?
There is nothing in law that states you have to hold a driving license in order to apply for a proprietor's license. However if you plan on driving the vehicle yourself you will need one. In certain cases in order to obtain a hackney carriage proprietor's license proof of your financial status may be required? You will have to complete an application form and return it to the Licensing Office. A fee will be payable and the vehicle may be required to be under a certain age? Each licensing authority may specify its own vehicle criteria.
4. Is it an offence for a PHV to ply for hire or tout for custom on a public highway or in a public place?
Under current legislation it is an offence for both Hackney carriage and Private hire drivers to tout for custom in a public place or on a public highway. It is also an offence for any vehicle or driver who is not licensed to ply for hire on a public highway, to obtain custom by any other means than the one they are licensed for.
5. Can Hackney carriage drivers ply for hire outside their own area?
A Hackney carriage vehicle and driver can only ply for hire in the area for which it is licensed. It is an offence for a Hackney carriage driver to ply for hire outside his licensed area.
6. Will my Hackney carriage driver's license allow me to drive a hackney carriage vehicle in another licensing authority?
An individual hackney carriage drivers license must be obtained for each area you wish to drive. The same applies to PHV drivers.
7. Will my Hackney carriage proprietor's license allow my vehicle to be used in other licensing authorities?
Under normal circumstances a Hackney Carriage proprietor's license must be obtained for each authority you wish to ply for hire. Certain conditions may apply in some authorities that allow for a method of dual licensing such as Birmingham and Solihull but these are restricted to a small number of vehicles and may soon be phased out. Private hire vehicles are also subject to the same conditions as Hackney carriages when it comes to plying for hire in another licensing area.
8. Do I have to pay for a Hackney carriage or PH license?
All licenses incur a fee and most licensing authorities have an annual renewal policy.
9. In respect of Hackney carriage vehicle licenses can you explain license premiums?
In the main a license premium is an artificial value attached to a Hackney carriage vehicle license simply because the local licensing authority restrict the number of licenses it issues. All licenses in restricted authorities command what is known as a scarcity value, scarcity values fluctuate throughout the country depending on the earnings potential in each individual licensing authority. The highest recorded license plate value so far obtained is that of Halifax, which is over seventy thousand pounds. The lowest plate values so far obtained are Torfaen, Leicester and Nottingham, they all stand at ten thousand pounds or less, with Torfaen reportedly having a scarcity value of less than five thousand pounds.
10. How can I drive a Taxi if the local licensing authority won't issue me a proprietor's license?
A licensing authority can only refuse a license if you are deemed not to be a fit and proper person. This applies to both hackney carriage and private hire licenses. A licensing authority however may decide that you are "fit and proper to drive a vehicle" but you are not "fit and proper to own a vehicle".
If you apply for a hackney carriage proprietor's license to a licensing authority that restricts licenses they are obliged by law to consider your application but unless the application is in some way inventive and unique then the licensing authority will most certainly refuse your application. Under those circumstances you will have to try and buy a proprietor's license from an existing proprietor in order to drive your own hackney carriage.
From time to time licensing authorities issue new licenses but there is normally a waiting a list and you will have to apply for one of the new licenses along with those applicants already on the waiting list.
11. Can I appeal against a decision of the licensing authority not to issue me a Hackney Carriage Proprietor's license?
Once you have been refused a license you can appeal to the Crown court and not the Magistrates court.
12. Who is allowed to drive my Hackney Carriage or PH Vehicle?
Anyone wishing to drive either vehicle must have a valid H/C or P/H drivers licence for the area in which the vehicle is licensed. According to case law, as long as they are licensed a "Taxi is always a Taxi" and a Private hire vehicle is always a "Private hire vehicle".
13. Can I apply to more than one local authority for either a Driver or Proprietor's license?
There is no limit to the number of individual licenses you can apply for. Kingston upon Hull city council v Wilson QBD Road Traffic 25th July 1995.
14. Can I advertise on the side of my Vehicle?
Local licensing Authorities regulate advertisements on vehicles. Vehicle licensing conditions vary throughout the country.
15. How many licensing Authorities are there in England and Wales.
Excluding the Isle of Wight there are 343 licensing Authorities in England and Wales.
16. What is a Zoned area?
A zoned area consists of two or more areas within one licensing authority. The licensing authority will decide the policy for each zoned area.
17. What is my self employed status?
In the main practically all Taxi drivers are self-employed and as such they are subject to the rules and regulations laid down by the Inland Revenue. You are required to keep accounts and produce those accounts on demand, should you be asked to do so. If you do not own a vehicle then you will no doubt hire one from a third party, it is in your own interest that you record all payments to any third party and obtain payment receipts where possible.
Proprietors also have to keep up to date accounts. Some proprietors register themselves as a limited company it is up to each individual to investigate if limited company status is beneficial to them?
18. Can I transfer my vehicle license?
There is a legal procedure for transferring a hackney carriage proprietor license. The licensing authority must be informed within a certain time frame and you will have to complete a transfer form and pay the required fee.
19. How do I become a private hire operator?
You apply to the Licensing office but first you need to obtain planning permission for the premises you intend to license. There is a fee for the Operator Licence. Under normal circumstances the operator licence is granted immediately after planning permission has been given.
Version 1, 6 October 2005
Taxi Driver Online