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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:18 pm 
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High Court confirm that putting the meter on whilst loading a WAV customer is in breach of the 2010 Equality Act.

TfL - v - McNutt 21st February 2019

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:28 pm 
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For those not wanting to read all that, a brief synopsis can be found in this post.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=34010

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:16 pm 
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Another one from the Times Law Reports:

April 20 2019, 12:01am, The Times

Wheelchair user entitled to board taxi before the meter is turned on

Queen’s Bench Division
Published: April 20, 2019
McNutt v Transport for London
Before Mr Justice Julian Knowles
[2019] EWHC 365 (Admin)
Judgment: February 21, 2019

A taxi driver who switched on his meter before a wheelchair user boarded his taxi failed to comply with the duty “not to make any additional charge” for carrying a wheelchair user contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Justice Julian Knowles so held when dismissing an appeal by way of case stated by the defendant, Thomas McNutt, against the decision of Hendon magistrates’ court on May 23, 2018 to find him guilty of an offence contrary to section 165(7) of the Equality Act 2010 of breaching the duty, under section 165(1)(a) and (4)(b), on the driver of a taxi that had been hired by or for a disabled person in a wheelchair “not to make any additional charge for doing so”.


Mr Andrew Taylor for the defendant; Mr David Patience for Transport for London.

Mr Justice Julian Knowles said that the complainant, who was a wheelchair user, went to a London taxi rank and sought to board the defendant’s taxi. Before he unlocked the wheelchair ramp, and before the complainant had boarded, the defendant activated the meter fitted to his taxi.


The complainant noticed that the meter had been activated and challenged the defendant, the point being that she would be charged for the time it took to get her and her wheelchair into the taxi.

After an altercation the complainant boarded another taxi. No money changed hands between the complainant and defendant and she never got into his taxi. Transport for London (TfL), the statutory taxi regulator in London, subsequently charged the defendant with an offence contrary to section 165(7) of the Equality Act 2010.

The defendant contended that the offence was not made out until the exact point in time when the charge was levied, in other words, when the driver demanded payment. That could only be at the end of the journey. In the present case, no journey had been taken and therefore there could be no offence. TfL argued that that was a contrived interpretation of the legislation. Whatever charge would be levied would be determined by the meter and that had been switched on.

The starting point was to note the precise language used in section 165(4)(b). The driver’s duty was not “to make any additional charge” as a result of being hired by or on behalf of a disabled person. In that phrase the word “charge” was being used as a noun and not a verb. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of “charge” when used as a noun included “a price asked for goods or services” and also “a financial liability or commitment”.

The first of those meanings supported, to an extent, the defendant’s submission. The second definition supported TfL’s submission.

In his lordship’s judgment it was the second meaning that was to be ascribed to the word “charge” as used in section 165(4)(b). There could be no doubt that no later than the time a meter was switched on at the point of hire, an actual financial liability or commitment was imposed on the passenger to pay the amount shown on the meter when the hiring was terminated, and it was therefore at that point that the charge was made for the purposes of section 165(4)(b).

The words “make any additional charge” in section 165(4)(b) meant to impose an additional financial liability or commitment on a disabled wheelchair user as compared with an able-bodied passenger, and such a liability or commitment was imposed no later than the point when a London taxi driver switched on his meter before such a person and their wheelchair had boarded the taxi.

Where the driver gave a fare indication at or before the point of hiring (perhaps in the course of negotiating a fixed-fee fare) that would also amount to a financial liability or commitment, and thus a charge within section 165(4)(b), albeit of a contingent kind. To construe “charge” as excluding inflated fare indications would enable drivers deliberately to discourage disabled passengers from travelling with them, and thus to avoid their duty under section 165 to carry such passengers, and thus defeat the whole purpose of that section.

Inside London licensed private-hire vehicles were prohibited from being fitted with meters. They therefore had to use a different method of fare calculation, which, according to TfL, was usually distance based. Providing an inflated fare estimate to a disabled passenger would infringe section 165(4), even though there might be no liability on the passenger (who might refuse to accept the estimate).

Although taxis and private hire vehicles were subject to a different statutory regime outside London, there could be no basis for reaching a different conclusion in relation to hackney carriages outside London as compared with those in London. In both places the meter calculated the fare and there was an implied term in the contract between the driver and the passenger (or an express term, should there be written conditions of carriage) that the passenger would pay the fare shown on the meter.

A financial liability or commitment was therefore created when the driver switched on the meter, precisely as it was in relation to a London hackney carriage, and it was no later than that point that a “charge is made” for the purposes of section 165(4)(b). That liability or commitment was reinforced by section 66 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which made it an offence to refuse to pay the fare due.

Private-hire vehicles outside London could lawfully be fitted with a meter. The use of a meter in a private hire vehicle created a contractual obligation to pay the metered fare, and hence switching on the meter amounted to “making a charge” because it created a financial liability or commitment. That was reinforced by the criminal law: a failure to pay the fare would likely amount to the offence of making off without payment, contrary to section 3 of the Theft Act 1978.

For private-hire vehicles outside London without a meter, the position was the same as for private-hire vehicles within London, and for the same reasons, providing a fare estimate or indication in advance of the journey was sufficient to amount to the making of a charge because it created a contingent financial liability or commitment sufficient to engage section 165(4)(b).

Solicitors: Michael Demidecki & Co; Transport for London.


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