In circumstances where a Taxi/PHV driver’s license has been revoked by the Licensing Authority (LA), or where the LA have notified the driver of their intention to consider doing so, there are several options available to drivers.
Why has my license been revoked?
LA’s have a legal obligation to protect the public in various circumstances, which extends to the granting and renewing of Taxi/PHV licenses. The LAs’ responsibilities for licensing come from the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and the Town Police Clauses Act 184 (amongst others).
The LA, which will usually be either a Local Authority/Council or Transport for London (TfL), will have a Licensing Committee or Sub-Committee, which will have a legal responsibility specifically for licensing (including Taxi/PHV Licensing).
The Licensing Committee will publish and regularly update a policy for the licensing of Taxi/PHV drivers within the LA’s area, with the aim of safeguarding and protecting service users of Taxi/PHV drivers.
The most important requirement for licensing, which applies across all LA areas (including TfL) is the requirement for a licensee to be a ‘fit and proper person’.
In circumstances where a driver’s Taxi/PHV license has been revoked, this is almost always on the grounds that the ‘fit and proper person’ test has not been met.
What is the ‘Fit and Proper Person’ Test?
Despite being the most important principle within Taxi/PHV licensing law across England & Wales, the test itself is not defined in statute and is this (at least to an extent) open to some interpretation. However, most LAs will apply an interpretation that it requires licensees to be ‘safe and suitable’ to be licensed.
In considering whether a driver meets the standard required, LAs can have regard to a vast range of factors including (but not limited to):
- Any previous criminal convictions or cautions;
- How long the driver has held a driving license;
- The conduct of the driver, including the relationship and co-operation with the LA’s officers;
- The number of points endorsed on a driver’s driving license;
- Medical fitness including physical and mental condition;
- The driver’s behaviour towards other drivers, road users, customers, and the Council; and
- The driver’s overall integrity.
In seeking to provide an explanation or elucidation of their approach to the ‘fit and proper person’ test, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council have set out the following detail at paragraph 8.10 of their Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver Policy (Version 1, 2021):
“8.10 In essence a ‘fit and proper’ person;
- should not be violent, abusive or threatening in their behaviour even if subjected to unpleasant, confrontational or dishonest passenger behaviour or when subject to enforcement action from officers.
- should be honest, trustworthy and have integrity […].
- should display safe and competent driving standards […].
- [should] be in good physical and mental health to ensure they do not put passengers at any risk whilst transporting them, through for example having uncorrected or impaired eyesight, suffering from medical conditions including cardiac events, depression, recovering from a stroke, or have impaired driving ability through the use of prescribed medication. They must also be physically fit and agile to load passengers in wheelchairs into their vehicles.
- should work co-operatively with and be civil and respectful towards officers of the Licensing Authority who are carrying out their duties.”
In order to give objectivity to the application of the test, many LAs will apply a question to be asked of the Licensing Committee in determining whether a driver satisfies the test. The question is helpfully set out at paragraph 2.3 of the Transport for London Taxi and PHV Driver Policy (Version 2, 2022):
“Without any prejudice, and based on the information before you, would you allow a person for whom you care, regardless of their condition, to travel alone in a vehicle driven by this person at any time of day or night?”
Where a driver does not satisfy the ‘fit and proper person’ test, the LA can and will refuse to grant them a license.
What is the Process for Revoking a License?
The specific process for revocation will depend on the LA’s individual policy, however general themes can be applied across all LAs.
Where a complaint is made to the LA which indicates that there is an imminent risk to public safety, the LA has the authority to convene an emergency meeting of the Licensing Committee and (where the Licensing Committee considers the complaint founded) revoke the driver’s license immediately the same day without a hearing.
Where a complaint is made but involves no imminent risk to the public, the matter will usually be referred to a full Licensing Sub-Committee, who will hold a formal hearing to consider the facts and evidence and reach a decision as to licensing.
The driver under investigation will usually be invited to attend the Licensing Sub-Committee hearing in order to present any evidence in their defence, and to make representations to the Committee. The driver is usually permitted to be represented by a lawyer before the hearing, although there is no formal entitlement to representation.
In situations where the matter is referred to the Sub-Committee, the members may dismiss the complaint, uphold the complaint and revoke the driver’s licence, or in certain circumstances uphold the complaint but decide only to suspend the driver’s license for a certain period of time.
Where a complaint is made which is less serious, this will usually be referred to the LA’s Licensing Officer who will deal with the matter under their delegated powers – namely the power to suspend a driver’s license for no more than 2 weeks.
How can I appeal a revocation?
Where a Taxi/PHV license has been revoked (either after a hearing, or without a hearing), the driver will have 21 days from the date of the decision letter (usually a few days after the hearing) to submit an appeal to the Magistrates’ Court against the decision of the LA. The right of appeal is a statutory right and is not subject to any requirement for permission etc., unlike an application for Judicial Review.
The driver will be required to pay a Court summons fee, and the matter will be listed before the Magistrates’ Court for a trial to consider whether the driver’s license should be revoked or otherwise.
The Magistrates or District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) who consider the appeal will be sitting in a civil capacity, and thus the civil procedure rules and the civil standard of proof will apply, as opposed to the criminal standard which usually applies in the Magistrates’ Court.
The Court will consider the matter afresh, and will hear evidence from both the LA’s lawyers and the driver. The Court will then determine whether the decision was correct and the driver’s license should be revoked, or whether to overturn the revocation.