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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 3:19 am 
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The ingredients of the offences

The relevant provisions controlling the operation of hackney carriages is to be found in the TPCA 1847 as amended. In areas where Part II of the LG(MP)A 1976 has been formally adopted, the TPCA 1847 should be read in conjunction. Control of hackney carriages by the issue of vehicle and drivers licence are the responsibility of district councils.

In the case of R (Maud) v Castle Point Borough Council1 the legislation governing the licensing of hackney cabs was reviewed. Licences are granted under s 37. The TPCA 1847 originally applied in only those areas where the Act had been incorporated into a local Act of Parliament, but by s 171 of the Public Health Act 1875 the hackney carriage provisions of the 1847 Act were extended to all urban districts in England and Wales. District councils can limit the number of hackney carriages but the Transport Act 1985 s 16 amended the TPCA 1847 to ensure this is only done when the district council is satisfied that there is no significant demand which is unmet. In the Maud case the Court of Appeal confirmed that before a council can refuse an application for a licence on the basis of restricting the number of cabs it must be satisfied that there is no significant demand which is unmet. If the council is satisfied that there is no demand unmet it has a discretion to refuse the application.

Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s 47(1), the council may impose such conditions as it considers to be reasonably necessary upon a hackney carriage licence. In R v Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council ex p Wirral Licensed Taxi Owners Association2 Glidewell J expressed the view that the council's functions in relation to the licensing of taxi cabs were to achieve the safety, convenience and comfort of passengers in hackney carriages, the safety of other road users and to ensure that there is some way in which those who wish to use either hackney carriages or private hire vehicles can readily distinguish the one type of vehicle from another.

The imposing of conditions was also considered in the Maud case as the council was asked to consider attaching a condition to a licence preventing the plying for hire in part of the authority's area. The Court of Appeal considered that such a condition would create two classes of licence, one with unrestricted application in the area and one which would operate with limitations. This was considered to be contrary to the legislative policy as stated by Woolf LJ in R v Great Yarmouth Borough Council ex p Sawyer3. He had said that the policy of the Transport Act 1985 was 'to remove restraints and allow market forces to take their course in a way which did not exist before s 16 of that Act came into effect'. In the Maud case the court held that the council was right not to impose a condition which would create a two tier licensing structure.

The TPCA 1847, s 47 provides that an offence is committed when a person acts as the driver of a duly licensed hackney carriage without a valid hackney carriage drivers licence. The term 'hackney carriage' was of course conceived prior to the invention of the motor car but despite its antiquity is still defined having recourse to the TPCA 1847, s 38 which states a hackney carriage to be:

'Every wheeled carriage, whatever may be its form or construction, used in standing or plying for hire in any street within the prescribed distance, and every carriage stand upon any street within the prescribed distance, having therein any numbered plate required by this or the special Act to be fixed upon a hackney carriage, or having therein any plate resembling or intending to resemble any such plate as aforesaid, shall be deemed to be a hackney carriage within the meaning of this Act; and in all proceedings at law or otherwise the term 'hackney carriage' shall be sufficient to describe any such carriage: provided always that no stage coach used for the purpose of standing or plying for passengers to be carried for hire at separate fares, and duly licensed for that purpose, and having thereon the proper numbered plates required by law to be placed on such stage coaches, shall be deemed to be a hackney carriage within the meaning of this Act.'

1 [2003] RTR 122.

2 (1983) CMLR 150.

3 [1989] RTR 297.

Drivers of hackney carriages are prohibited from acting as such a driver until they have applied for a drivers licence from the district council in accordance with the TPCA 1847, s 46. A licence granted by a district council may attract a fee and last for a maximum of one year or until the next licensing committee meeting thereof under the TPCA 1847 buy this may be extended where Part II of the LG(MP)A 1976 has been adopted to a maximum of three years. Any licence must be sealed under TPCA 1847, s 43 unless the LG(MP)A 1976 has been adopted when it can be signed by an authorised council officer via LG(MP)A 1976, s 79.

The importance of drivers of hackney carriages being appropriately licensed with district councils cannot be underestimated as this ensures ready regulation control by district councils.

Byelaws for the regulation of hackney carriages are permitted by the TPCA 1847, s 68 and the Public Health Act 1975, s 171 which stipulate the usual purposes of such byelaws. District Councils, however, tend to utilise the model Byelaws for Hackney Carriages to be located in the Annex to the Department of Transport Circular 8/86 which provided guidance on the extension of taxi licensing in England and Wales via the operation of the Transport Act 1985, s 15. The byelaws should encompass the following:

(i) provisions regulating the manner in which the number of each hackney carriage corresponds with the number of its licence and how it shall be displayed;

(ii) provisions regulating how hackney carriages are to be furnished or provided;

(iii) provisions regulating the conduct of the proprietors and drivers of hackney carriages plying within the district, including reference to the use of taxi meters (if present) and the wearing of badges for ready identification;

(iv) provisions fixing the stands of hackney carriages;

(v) provisions fixing the rates/fares to be paid;

(vi) provisions securing the safe custody and re-delivery of any property accidentally left in hackney carriages and fixing the charges to be made in respect thereof;

(vii) provisions for penalty in the event of non-compliance with any of the byelaw provisions.

An alleged breach of the byelaws is to be processed via an information to the local magistrates' court for district councils have no power to issue summonses requiring drivers to appear before them and answering any alleged non-compliance with the byelaws1.

1 Re Wiseman, Re Manchester Corpn Cab Committee (1886) 3 TLR 12, CA.

It is an offence under the TPCA 1847, s 55 for a driver to receive a fare which exceeds the fare he was lawfully entitled to. Any agreement to pay more than the lawful fare is not binding, allowing the excess to be recovered on complaint to a magistrates' court as a civil debt. Under the MCA 1980, s 58, it should be remembered that an offence under s 55 is committed at the arrival point and so care should be exercised to bring the matter to the correct magistrates' court1. Fares as set out by the byelaws may be varied in accordance with the Hackney Carriage Fares (Amendment of Byelaws) Order 1981, SI 1981/400.

1 Ely v Godfrey (1922) 86 JP 82.
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