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 Post subject: DPP vs Computer Cab 1994
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:37 am 
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Sussex alluded to this case not being on TDO, I thought JD put this one up, here it is and in my view if the principle were adopted nationwide, we wouldnt have the Berwick situation happening.


Director of Public Prosecutions v Computer Cab Company Ltd and another

Queen's Bench Division (Crown Office List)

[1996] RTR 130, CO/808/94, (Transcript: John Larking)

HEARING-DATES: 7 November 1994


7 November 1994

COUNSEL:

J Carter-Manning QC and J Regden for the Appellant;

A Scrivener QC and W Hibbert for the First Respondent; R Beckett QC and C Pitt for the Respondents

PANEL: Rose LJ, Scott Baker J

JUDGMENTBY-1: ROSE LJ

JUDGMENT-1:

ROSE LJ: There is before the court an appeal by way of Case Stated against a decision of Mr Roger Davies, Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, at Horseferry Road Magistrates' Court, London, on 7 January 1994. He dismissed a number of informations against the second and subsequent Respondents, who are cab drivers, against whom it was alleged that they had permitted their cabs to be hired in parts of the Metropolitan area in which, by reason of the conditions attached to their licence, they were prohibited from plying for hire, contrary to para 31(1)(ii) of the London Cab Order 1934, sections of the Metropolitan Pubic Carriage Act 1869 and Criminal Justice Act 1967 as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1982. He also dismissed a number of related informations preferred against the first named Respondent, on the basis that they had aided and abetted the second and subsequent Respondents to commit those offences.

The facts found in the Case Stated, so far as are presently material, were these. The Metropolitan Police District is empowered to issue Green Badges and Yellow Badges to cab drivers. Green Badges permit the driver to ply for hire anywhere in the Metropolitan Police district. The Yellow Badges permit the driver to ply for hire within a particular sector, excluding the central area within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. All the second and subsequent Respondents held Yellow Badges for sector 1, the North East area of London.

The Stipendiary further found that the first Respondent was a company set up to provide services to licensed cab drivers who subscribed to it in order to obtain the benefit of its services, which included the booking of hirings and the maintenance of radio networks, through which hirings could be communicated to drivers and by which drivers could inform the company of their availability. He further found that all the drivers, when accepting calls material to the present informations, were within their licensed area.

It was not contended to the contrary and the Stipendiary found that the first Respondent admitted aiding and abetting the drivers by the system of offering jobs within the central area to drivers licensed outside that area. He further found that, as between the first Respondent and the other Respondents, there was an obligation to carry out the hiring, once it had been accepted by the driver and the meter had begun to run on receipt by the driver of the call. It is common ground that the meter would begin to run and the "For Hire" sign would be extinguished when the booking was accepted by the driver on communication to him by the first Respondent company.

In the course of Mr Scrivener's submissions to the court, on behalf of the first Respondent, it emerged that there were, first, facts which, as it turns out, were not in dispute between the parties, but which formed no part of the Stipendiary's findings in the Case Stated. These are that, although, on receipt of the radio communication from the first Respondent, a cab driver who accepted the booking would start his meter, the maximum permissible charge in relation to his journey from the point at which he was summoned to the pick-up point was £2.40. It is further common ground that at the very least, in general terms, the destination for the driver after pick-up was communicated by the customer to the first
Respondent and by them, in turn, to the driver. It also emerged that, in relation to each of the informations the subject of the present appeal, all the customers were credit customers in a contractual relationship with the first Respondent with regard to credit terms.

It is, to say the least, highly unfortunate that it was not until the midpoint of the hearing before this court that those facts, which both parties are agreed are material, had not come to be, by way of remission or otherwise, in the Case Stated by the Stipendiary. As is well-known, the parties on receipt of a Case Stated are permitted by the Rules to make representations about it within a period of 21 days. Had that been done in this case, as generally it should be done, the present difficulties would not have arisen. However, because this is not a case where, either before the Stipendiary or before this court, there is any significant difference between the parties as to what the facts are, that difficulty is, to a large extent, overcome.

The material regulations are these. Paragraph 27 of the 1934 Order provides for the form of a cab driver's licence and the issue of a copy of the licence, and empowers the Metropolitan Police Commissioner under para 27 1(b), if he is not satisfied that the Applicant has an adequate knowledge of the Metropolitan area, to ".... attach a condition prohibiting the licensee from plying for hire with a cab in the said area except in such part or parts thereof as may be specified, being a part or parts in respect of which he has satisfied the Commissioner of Police that he has an adequate knowledge."

There are two points that are worthy of comment which emerge from that. First, it provides the basis for the distinction to which I have already referred between and a Yellow Badge and a Green Badge. Secondly, it identifies the basis of the distinction, namely, what is colloquially and familiarly known as "the knowledge"; that is to say a cab driver will not be licensed to drive in the central Metropolitan area unless he has the requisite knowledge of its geography.

Paragraph 31(1) provides:

"If the holder of a cab-driver's licence

(i) .....

(ii) plies for hire with a cab or permits the cab to be hired in any part of the metropolitan area in which by a condition attached to his licence he is prohibited from plying for hire with a cab,

"he shall be guilty of a breach of this Order."

It was in relation to a breach of that part of that paragraph which refers to "permits the cab to be hired" that the Yellow Badge holders were prosecuted in the present case.

Paragraph 39 provides:

"The driver of a motor cab shall, as soon as the cab is hired and no sooner, set the mechanism of the taximeter in motion, and shall, as soon as the hiring is terminated and no sooner, stop the mechanism of the taximeter."

The submission made on behalf of the Appellant (the Director of Public Prosecutions) by Mr Carter-Manning QC, is that, in the interest of the protection of the public, which is the aim and object of this licensing system, one principle should apply to determine whether and when a hiring has taken place, regardless of whether the hiring is for cash or for credit, and the only appropriate principle is that the hiring takes place at the pick-up point, that is to say when the cab driver and the customer meet.

For my part, I see the force of that submission, if it were the case that, until that point in time, an unlimited charge appeared upon the meter which the customer would be required to pay following the operation of that meter by the driver outside the licensed area. Whether that submission remains so persuasive in the light of the facts as they are now agreed to be is another matter.

Mr Scrivener, on behalf of the first Respondent, submits that the first Respondent computer company acts as an agent of both the customer and the driver. He submits that, having regard to Cogley v Sherwood [1959] 2 QB 311, [1959] 2 All ER 313, which established that plying for hire can only occur when a cab is visible to potential customers, once the plying for hire is brought to an end by extinguishing the "For Hire" sign and operating the taximeter, it is at that point that the hiring starts.

For my part, I am not persuaded that that particular authority assists Mr Scrivener. It would do so if it were the case that a hiring necessarily starts when a period of plying for hire comes to an end, but that is not so. It is clearly not so if, for example, a driver extinguishes his "For Hire" sign and heads for home. The question is whether or not the hiring, postulated in the facts before this court, did or did not occur within the area for which the second Respondents were not licensed. Mr Scrivener also invited the court's attention to Khan v Evans [1985] RTR 33 in which it was held that a hiring was complete when hailing took place. That again, as it seems to me, does not advance the argument.

Mr Beckett, on behalf of the drivers, approached the contractual aspect of the matter somewhat differently. His submission was that there was a contract between the customer and the first Respondent for a cab, followed by a subcontract between the first Respondent and the driver, whereby the particular cab was assigned and the driver became contractually obliged to pick up the customer from that time on. Mr Beckett drew the court's attention to Britain v ABC Cabs (Camberley) [1981] RTR 395 and Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council v Khan [1994] RTR 987, cases which were concerned with provisions akin to, but not identical to, the regulations with which this court is presently concerned. In my judgment, hiring is necessarily a matter of agreement. It involves agreement between the customer on the one hand, and the driver on the other. In the ordinary way that is an agreement which takes place in the street. It is a process which starts with the driver plying for hire being hailed, a discussion following as to where the customer wishes to be taken and, apart from exceptional cases in which the driver is entitled to refuse a particular fare (into which it is unnecessary to go), the agreement for hiring is clearly evidenced by the customer getting in the cab and the cab driver deleting his "For Hire" sign and starting his meter.

Whether or not, in the circumstances postulated, a hiring took place in an area for which the drivers were not licensed, must, as it seems to me, depend on what, if anything, remained to be agreed between the driver and the customer within the licensed area. Mr Carter-Manning was constrained to concede in the course of his reply that, save possibly in relation to the precise destination, nothing remained to be agreed between the customer and driver in the present case once the discussions over the telephone between the customer and the first Respondent and the radio discussion between the first Respondent and the driver had taken place. That latter conversation having taken place, the driver would know where he had to pick up the customer; he would know, at least in general terms, the area where the customer was to be taken; he would know that a sum of a maximum amount of £2.40 could be charged, whatever was shown on the meter, for the journey between his receipt of the call and picking up the customer, and, having extinguished his "For Hire" sign so that he was no longer plying for hire in the area where he was licensed to ply for hire and having started the meter, he would regard himself as not only contractually bound to the first Respondent, but also obliged to collect the customer.

In my judgment, once the position is reached where nothing further remains to be agreed between the driver and the customer within the unlicensed area, the conclusion is inescapable that the hiring took place in the area where these defendants were licensed. The inevitable consequence of that, as it seems to me, is that the cabs in the instant case were not permitted to be hired in the licensed area. The hiring had already taken place. It follows that the answer to the first question posed by the Stipendiary Magistrate, namely: "Whether, notwithstanding any prior booking arrangement or hiring agreement, the licensed cab driver for the purposes of Paragraph 31 of the London Cab Order 1934 permits his cab to be hired at the time and place at which he physically picks "up the hirer?"

is "No"; and, as to the second question, namely:

"Was I correct in law, on the agreed facts, in dismissing the informations?"
the answer is "Yes". Of course the offences in the informations laid in relation to aiding and abetting against the first Respondents must, of course, fail with the informations laid against the other Respondents.
Accordingly for those reasons, I would dismiss this appeal.

JUDGMENTBY-2: SCOTT BAKER J

JUDGMENT-2:

SCOTT BAKER J: I agree.

DISPOSITION:

Appeal dismissed. Costs from central funds.

SOLICITORS:

Crown Prosecution Service; Charles Patel, Wokingham; Michael Demidecki

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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 9:43 am 
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1994........... I remember it well

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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 6:44 pm 
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wannabeeahack wrote:
1994........... I remember it well


Congratulations - your Alzheimer's is cured

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