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Circular 25/1986: Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire Cars

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ANNEX A

PARAGRAPHS TO BE SUBSTITUTED FOR PARAGRAPHS 2.14 TO 2.59 (INCLUSIVE) OF APPENDIX A TO SDD CIRCULAR NO 6/1983

LICENSING AND REGULATION OF TAXIS AND HIRE CARS

Sections 10-23: Introduction

2.14 The taxi and private hire car provisions in the Act are optional provisions; that is, it is for each district or islands council to decide for itself whether to resolve to adopt these provisions after public notice and consultation. Control over taxis and private hire cars is exercised however in the public interest and the Secretary of State considers in the light of Parliamentary discussions that these optional provisions on taxis and private hire cars should be adopted in all areas other than the most sparsely populated ones. He considers it highly desirable to avoid creating "pockets" of unlicensed but populated areas which might be used as a base from which so-called "pirate" operators may foray into the licensed areas - with consequent enforcement problems for the police The Secretary of State therefore suggests that before deciding not to license in a particular area, a licensing authority should seek the views of the Chief Constable on the implications of such a policy on his ability to enforce the law in licensed areas - whether inside or outside the licensing authority's area. If however a rural area is remote from major settlements, no licensing at present exists, and there are no major problems because of its absence, then the Secretary of State suggests that the case for immediate introduction of licensing may not have been made. It should be noted, however, that an effect of section 12 of the Transport Act 1985 is that a taxi cannot be used to provide a local service (as defined in section 2 of that act) unless it is a licensed taxi.

2.15 If a licensing authority resolves to adopt these provisions then it is required to license and control both taxis and private hire cars. While there are important operational distinctions between taxis and private hire cars, there are sufficient similarities in the service they provide to the public to require that any control exercised by a licensing authority over these trades must be exercised over both trades together and not over one in isolation from the other. The definitions of a taxi and a private hire car provide in effect that a taxi can do all that a private hire car can do and in addition can pick up passengers without prior booking in a public place - for example streets, stances and stations.

2.16 It is provided that a licensing authority may refuse to grant a taxi operator's licence for the purpose of limiting the number of taxis in their area if, but only if, they are satisfied that there is no significant unmet demand for taxi services in their area. Such a decision is appealable and applies to taxi operators' licences only. There is no specific power of limitation on numbers of private hire car licences (or on drivers' licences).

2.17 Provision is made for the Secretary of State, by regulation, to prescribe vehicle types, sizes and designs which a licensing authority shall regard as suitable. This regulatory power has differential application and different types and so on could be prescribed for different areas. This is intended as a reserve power only. Detailed provisions include those for inspection and testing of vehicles, fees for taxi and private hire car licences (which should cover the costs of administering the licensing system); the testing and qualification of drivers, and a discretionary power for the licensing authority to appoint taxi stances.

2.18 It is provided that the licensing authority shall, after consultation with the taxi trade (and also public advertisement) directly fix maximum taxi fares, including fares for shared hire (but not for taxi-buses); and the authority is also required to review fares regularly at intervals not exceeding 18 months. Provision has also been made enabling the licensing authority to fix fares for certain journeys outside their licensing area. There is provision for appeals by the taxi trade on fares, the appellate body being the Scottish Traffic Commissioner.

2.19 Detailed regulation of licensed taxis and private hire cars, together with their drivers, will be achieved by means of conditions attached to the grant of a licence. However there are many matters, whether concerning the vehicles or the drivers, for which there may be no justification for conditions varying markedly from area to area Provision is made therefore in section 20 for the Secretary of State by order to prescribe conditions or classes of conditions which would have to be applied, and also to prescribe conditions or classes of conditions which could not be applied, by the licensing authority. In this way a uniform core of conditions could be established while licensing authorities would still be free to attach conditions to meet purely local circumstances.

Taxi and Private Hire Licences

2.20 Section 10 deals with operator's licences for taxis and private hire cars. It requires a licence for the operation of a vehicle as a taxi or private hire car, such a licence to be called a "taxi licence" or "private hire car licence" respectively. "Operation" is not directly defined, but having regard to later provisions is taken to mean "to make available for use as". "Taxi" and "hire car" are defined in section 23.

2.21 Section 10 provides that a licensing authority shall not grant or renew a licence unless they are satisfied that the vehicle to which it relates is suitable in type, size and design for its purposes, is safe for that use and that there is in force in relation to the vehicle such insurance or such security as complies with Part VI of the Road Traffic Act 1972. In terms of section 10(4) and 20(2) the Secretary of State may by order specify types, sizes and designs of vehicles for all or individual licensing areas which a licensing authority shall treat as suitable for their area. This power to prescribe types and other characteristics of vehicles is intended primarily as a reserve power to be used if there is evidence of authorities' imposing too specific or expensive types on the local trade with consequent increased costs for the public. It would not prevent a local authority from refusing a licence if the vehicle was unsafe (section 10(2)) or because it was unsuitable (provided that those alleged defects were 'not an inseparable part of the type, size or design).

2.22 Subsection (3) provides that the licensing authority may refuse a taxi licence (but not a private hire car licence) for the purpose of limiting the number of taxis in respect of which they grant licences if, but only if, they are satisfied that there is no significant demand for the services of taxis in their area which is unmet. It is for licensing authorities to decide what evidence of no significant unmet demand would be sufficient to satisfy them that they may refuse a licence so as to limit licence numbers. It is of course open to an applicant whose licence is refused on these grounds (and on any others) to appeal to the sheriff under the terms of Schedule 1, paragraph 18.

Inspection and Testing of Vehicles

2.23 Section 11 provides for the inspection and testing of licensed taxis and private hire cars. This inspection and testing may be by the licensing authority itself or by persons acting on its behalf such as the police or a commercial garage. Provision is also made for the inspection at any reasonable time of vehicles to assess their fitness, and of taxi meters to assess their fitness and accuracy, such inspection being by an authorised officer of the licensing authority or any constable. If, following such an inspection an authorised officer or constable is not satisfied about the safety of the vehicle or the fitness or accuracy of the taxi meter he may by notice require the vehicle or taxi meter to be made available for further inspection and the licence may be suspended until the matter has been put right.

Fees for Taxi and Private Hire Car Licences

2.24 Section 12 requires the licensing authority to charge fees for applications for, and the grant of, taxi and hire car licences in order to recover the costs of the operation of the taxi and private hire car licensing system. This specific provision for taxi and private hire car fees is made because the licensing authority may have to meet quite substantial costs on taxi and private hire car licensing, particularly in relation to testing (much of which the Secretary of State expects would be appropriate for private garages acting as agents) and inspection. These fees and costs are therefore provided for separately from the licensing costs for other activities in Parts I and II of the Act (provision for which is made in paragraph 15 of Schedule 1) in order to ensure that there is no cross-subsidy or charging between taxi and private hire car matters and the rest. The fees are to be charged on the grant of, as well as on the application for, the licence, much of the licensing authority's costs, such as inspection of vehicles, being incurred in relation to current licence holders as well as to applicants. The licensing authority is under a duty to seek to ensure that the total amount recovered in fees is reasonably sufficient to meet the relevant costs.

2.25 Differing levels of fees should bear an obvious relationship to costs incurred (for example a taxi driver's licence involving a "knowledge test" should cost more than a "private hire" driver's licence) and the Secretary of State expects that authorities will ensure that costs are kept to the minimum and that the basis for the fees charged should be explained to the local trade organisations, who should be consulted well before charges or adjustments are proposed. It may often be convenient to adjust charges at the same time as taxi fares are reviewed

Taxi and Private Hire Car Driving Licences

2.26 Section 13 requires a licence for driving or having charge of a taxi or private hire car (the offence of not having a licence being in section 7(1)) and gives the licensing authority powers to satisfy themselves on the driver's fitness and suitability to hold such a licence.

Knowledge Tests

2.27 It is provided in subsection (2) that the holder of a taxi driver's licence need not hold a separate licence for driving a private hire car, since a taxi is permitted to do anything that a private hire car can do - and more. Subsection (5) provides that the licensing authority may require an applicant for a taxi driver's licence (but not a private hire car driver's licence) to undergo a test of his relevant knowledge of the area, the layout of its roads, and such other relevant matters relating to the operation of a taxi as the authority consider desirable.

Medical Examination

2.28 Subsection (4) provides that a licensing authority may at any time require an applicant for, or a holder of, a taxi or private hire car driver's licence to submit to a medical inspection. The inspection is to be carried out by a medical practitioner nominated by the authority, although there is nothing to stop the authority from nominating the driver's own doctor or specialist. The costs of any such medical examination will be at the expense of the licensing authority (although they may recover the costs of this from all applicants and licence holders by including such costs in the fees to be charged under section 12). It is not expected that such examinations would be automatic - bearing in mind that applicants will already be holders of ordinary driving licences - and it is anticipated that they will be required by authorities only where there are specific grounds for concern about the medical fitness of the applicant or the driver - on age, accident or health record.

Signs on Vehicles other than Taxis

2.29 Section 14 makes it an offence to display signs on private hire cars which might suggest that the vehicle is available for hire as a taxi. This offence provision does not apply to advertising and other signs (the name of the firm, for example) which are for the purpose of advertising the services of the vehicle as a private hire car or to any licence plate or other thing issued by the licensing authority for the purpose of identifying the vehicle as a private hire car. Signs and their use may also be regulated by use of licence conditions under the terms of Schedule 1. The Secretary of State regards basic advertisement that a vehicle is a taxi or private hire car - such as display of the name of the firm and its telephone number - as generally being in the public interest because it permits ready identification.

Operation of Taxis Outside Licensing Area

2.30 Section 15 empowers a licensing authority with the consent of the other authority involved to fix scales for taxi fares to named destinations or classes of destinations in the area of the other licensing authority. This is intended to meet circumstances where there are frequent hirings within a licensing authority's area to destinations outside its area such as railway terminals, airports or centres of shopping or entertainment. If such fares were not regulated, and therefore open to negotiation, anomalies and difficulties could arise not only for the public but also for the licensing authority and the operators themselves. Under this section therefore a licensing authority will be able to fix fares to (though not from) destinations or classes of destination outside its area, with the agreement of the other authority concerned. Named destinations could be specified places such as airports, railway stations or adjacent town centres, while classes of destinations could be defined either precisely or, for example, by reference to different areas of the adjacent authority. Fares fixed under section 15 are subject to the fixing, procedural and appeal provisions of sections 17 and 18. It should be noted, however, that under The Local Services (Operation by Taxis) (Scotland) Regulations 1986, sections 15, 17 and 18 do not apply to a taxi being used to provide, under a special licence as defined in section 12 of the Transport Act 1985, a local service which has been previously advertised and the destination and route of which are not entirely at the passengers' discretion (such a taxi is hereinafter referred to as a "taxi-bus").

2.31 The section also provides that on journeys outside their licensing area to the destinations covered by the section, taxis and their drivers are still subject to the licensing conditions imposed by their own licensing authority as if they were inside their own licensing area. It is also provided that a taxi driver cannot be compelled under the Act - for example by means of licensing conditions - to go outside his own area. Any journeys outside the licensing authority are entirely at the discretion of the driver; this applies even to named destinations or classes of destinations covered by this section.

Journeys in England and Wales by Vehicles Licensed under this Act

2.32 Section 16 provides for taxis and private hire cars licensed under this Act to pick up passengers in England. It does so by amending the provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 (which applies in England and Wales only) to exempt taxis and private hire cars and their drivers licensed under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 from those provision of the 1976 Act which make it an offence to pick up passengers in a controlled area licensed under the 1976 Act. It provides therefore that taxis and private hire cars licensed in Scotland can pick up passengers in England provided that the request for the hiring - for example in response to a telephone booking - was received in the area in which they are licensed under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. It does not allow such vehicles actually to ply for hire, that is to seek custom, in areas other than those in Scotland for which they are licensed to do so. This exemption applies only to vehicles and drivers licensed under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. Unlicensed vehicles and drivers still remain prohibited from picking up passengers in England. Section 21(3) provides reciprocal exemptions for licensed English vehicles and drivers to pick up passengers in areas in which the licensing provisions of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 apply.

2.33 Notwithstanding the above exemptions it is of course open to operators and drivers of Scottish taxis and private hire cars to apply for licences to operate in England and Wales under the 1976 Act and for English operators and drivers to seek to be licensed under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

Taxi Fares

2.34 As mentioned in paragraph 2.30, sections 17 and 18 do not apply to taxi-buses. Subject to that, section 17 makes it the duty of the licensing authority to fix scales for fares and all other charges (for example for luggage and waiting times) in connection with the hire of a taxi. It also provides that the licensing authority must review these scales at intervals not exceeding 18 months from the date on which the scales came into effect. This 18-month period is a maximum period and authorities will require to begin consultation (outlined later) on a review an adequate time before the final date for decision. Authorities are of course free to carry out reviews at any interval within this 18-month period. A review of scales which results in a decision by the licensing authority not to make any change to the scales is treated in exactly the same manner as one in which it decides to change the scales and the provisions of section 18 for the taxi trade to appeal to the Traffic Commissioner apply equally.

2.35 Before fixing any scales or carrying out any review the licensing authority is required to undertake consultations with the taxi trade and the public and to take into account any representations received. As regards the taxi trade, consultation must be with persons or organisations appearing to the licensing authority to be, or be representative of, the operators of taxis within their area. It is open to the licensing authority to decide who are so representative but as it is open to any taxi operator to appeal under section 18 against the decision it is likely to be in authorities' interests to try to reduce appeals by as full and early consultation as possible. Public consultation must be by public notice.

2.36 Following any decision by the licensing authority on the fixing of scales or the carrying out of any reviews, the authority is required forthwith to notify its decision in writing to those representatives of the trade it previously consulted. Once the scales for taxi fares and charges have been fixed by the licensing authority - or after appeal by the Traffic Commissioner under section 18 - the fares and charges so fixed are the maximum which can be charged (the offence provision is in section 21(5)) although it is of course open to any taxi driver to negotiate a lesser fare if he so wishes.

2.37 The Secretary of State expects that in fixing fares authorities will want to pay primary regard to the costs incurred by the trade, having regard to the capital costs. (including interest payments) of the vehicles, the costs of maintaining and replacing them to the standards required by the licensing authority, the costs of employing drivers, and the prevailing levels of wages and costs in related road transport industries. In the Secretary of State's view the public interest is better served by ensuring the maintenance of an adequate taxi service by giving the trade a fair return than by depressing fares for social reasons, however understandable. If fares are fixed at a level higher than the market can stand, the trade is free to reduce them.

Appeals in respect of Taxi Fares

2.38 Section 18 provides a right of appeal by any taxi operator to the Traffic Commissioner for the Scottish Traffic Area against the scales for fares and charges for taxis or against the result of any review by the licensing authority of these scales. Any appeal to the Traffic Commissioner must be made within 14 days of the decision of the licensing authority appealed against, though the Traffic Commissioner has discretion to hear appeals after the 14-day period has expired.

2.39 There are two grounds on which the Traffic Commissioner may decline, at any stage, to proceed with an appeal. The first is where the Commissioner considers that the appeal is not representative of the view of a substantial proportion of the operators of taxis in the area. As the coming into effect of the scales is delayed while an appeal is being dealt with, an appeal by an unrepresentative minority would mean that the rest of the trade was denied charging fares with which it was content. While "substantial proportion" is not defined, it is assumed that it will be more than one-third of operators. The second is where less than two years has elapsed since deciding an appeal and the Commissioner considers it inappropriate to consider the matter again - for example if there has been no material change in relevant circumstance during that period.

2.40 A licensing authority's decision on fare scales or a review is treated as a whole. This means that an appeal against one part of the scales is treated as an appeal against the scales as a whole and ensures therefore that the scales as a whole and their impact as a whole on the taxi trade is taken into account and that one part of the scales cannot be considered in isolation from the rest. The Commissioner is empowered either to confirm the decision of the licensing authority or to alter it in any way he considers fit. The Commissioner can therefore alter any of the fares or charges in the scales, or the review, to which the licensing authority decision relates even though the appeal itself was against a different part. The whole of the scales to which the licensing authority's decision relates, and not merely any part which may have been appealed against, is suspended until the appeal is disposed of or abandoned. The decision of the Traffic Commissioner on any appeal is final. Provision is made for the notification of the Commissioner's decision and for the coming into effect of scales which have been the subject of an appeal.

2.41 The Secretary of State has made procedural rules for the procedure in relation to appeals in consultation with the Scottish Committee of the Council on Tribunals: The Licensing and Regulation of Taxis (Appeals in Respect of Taxi Fares) (Scotland) Order 1985.

2.42 The expenses of the Traffic Commissioner in hearing appeals will be met by the licensing authority against whose decision the appeal has been made, but as these expenses are part of the authority's costs under this Part of the Act they are as such recoverable under section 12 through fees for licences and applications. Ultimately therefore these expenses will be paid for by way of fares.

Taxi Stances

2.43 Section 19 provides a discretionary power for licensing authorities, after prior consultation with the representatives of taxi operators in their area and with the consent of the owners of the land, to designate taxi stances and vary the number of vehicles to be at each stance. Before appointing or varying stances the licensing authority must give notice to the Chief Constable, and must also publish notification of their proposals and take into consideration any objections or representations received.

Regulations Relating to Taxis and Private Hire Cars and Their Drivers

2.44 Section 20 provides that the Secretary of State may make regulations on licensing conditions, and on vehicle types, sizes and designs.

2.45. Detailed control over taxi and private hire car operators and their drivers will be exercised by the licensing authority by means of conditions attached to the grant of the licence under paragraph 5 of Schedule 1. Subsection (1), however, empowers the Secretary of State to require the licensing authority to impose such conditions or classes of conditions as may be prescribed in regulations made under this section. Such regulations may also prescribe such conditions or classes of conditions which shall not be imposed by a licensing authority. The Secretary of State has issued advice to local authorities on a "common core" of licensing conditions following recommendations made on these by a working group including Convention and trade representatives.

Radios in Hire Cars

2.46 It should be noted that during the Parliamentary stages of this Act it was the general view that there should be no power in or under this Act which would allow licensing authorities to ban the fitting or use of radios in private hire cars. The Secretary of State has therefore used his regulation making powers under this section (The Licensing and Regulation of Taxis and Private Hire Cars and their Drivers (Prohibited and Required Licensing Conditions) (Scotland) Regulations 1986) to provide that no condition attached to the grant of a private hire car operator's or driver's licence will have the effect of preventing the fitting or use of a radio or other such communication system in a private hire car

Vehicle Types

2.47 In subsection (2) the Secretary of State is empowered to prescribe types, sizes and designs of vehicles which the licensing authority must regard as suitable in type, size and design under section 10(4). This regulatory power therefore enables the Secretary of State to specify different types, sizes or designs for different areas as there may well be differing requirements in, say, major city centres from the rest of Scotland. Subject to further comments from local authority and trade interests this power is however intended primarily as a reserve power, only to be used if there was evidence of authorities' imposing unnecessarily expensive vehicle types on the trade in their area with consequent unnecessarily high costs both for the trade and their customers; an example of this would be if there was evidence of local authorities requiring, say, the so-called Metropolitan type of cab only, in areas outside major city centres in circumstances where it could be shown that a single type of vehicle was not justified. In the Secretary of State's view there is little merit in imposing a single vehicle type or model on the taxi or hire car trades. Particularly in view of the wider range of services which taxis may now provide, the public and the operators should be allowed a choice which reflects at least in part the variety of general-purpose vehicles currently available which may be adapted to carry from three to the maximum number of eight passengers (beyond which a vehicle used for carrying passengers for hire or reward would, in terms of section 1 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, be a pubic service vehicle).

Offences

2.48 Section 21 sets out various offences in relation to the operation of driving of taxis and private hire cars, although it should be noted that section 22 sets out certain exemptions from these provisions and that, under the 1986 Regulations referred to in paragraph 2.30, only section 21(4) applies to taxi-buses. It should also be noted that the general offence provisions for licensing matters in section 7 of the Act also apply where appropriate but that, under the same regulations, the reference to "conditions" in section 7(2) means, in the case of a taxi-bus, only such conditions as the operator or driver of a taxi can reasonably be expected to observe while the taxi is being used as a taxi-bus. The offence provisions of section 7 cover such matters as carrying out an activity for which a licence is required, breach of licensing conditions and a change of circumstances. While section 7 makes it an offence for any person without reasonable excuse to do anything for which a licence is required, the operational characteristics of taxis and private hire cars require that the offence provisions relating to the operating or driving of a taxi or private hire car in illegal circumstances need to be provided in detail over and above the general offence provision in section 7. These offence provisions are set out in section 21(1).

2.49 Subsection 21(1)(a) deals with taxis and makes it an offence for any person to operate or permit the operation of a taxi in an area where taxi licensing is in force if neither the vehicle nor the driver is licensed accordingly. "Operate" is not defined as it is intended to cover the whole range of operations of a taxi - which of course go wider than those of a private hire car. That is, it covers plying for hire - picking up passengers without prior booking in a public place - as well as picking up passengers by prior arrangement. Subsection 21(1)(b) deals with private hire cars and makes it an offence for any person to pick up passengers, or permit passengers to be picked up, by a private hire car within a licensing area if neither the vehicle nor the driver is licensed accordingly. (If a licensed private hire car driver plies for hire in a licensing area then an offence would be committed under section 21(l)(a)). It should be noted that section 21(1) also covers the permitting of the offences. If therefore an operator of a taxi or private hire car business orders or permits a driver to ply for hire or pick up passengers in an area for which neither the vehicle nor the driver is appropriately licensed, then the operator as well as the driver is committing an offence.

2.50 It is not an offence for a vehicle to enter an area for which neither it nor its driver is licensed simply for the purpose of delivering and setting down passengers, as the offence provisions relate only to "operating as a taxi" - that is, making a vehicle available for use as a taxi by plying for hire and picking up passengers. There are however circumstances where taxis and private hire cars may enter an area in which neither they nor their drivers are licensed to pick up passengers. Specific exemptions from the offence provisions to provide for the picking up of passengers (though not of course plying for hire) in certain circumstances are therefore set out in section 21(2).

2.51 Section 21(2) provides that the offence provisions of subsection (1) for the picking up of passengers in an area for which neither the vehicle nor the driver is licensed do not apply where the request for the hiring is received by the driver in the area in which he is licensed, or engaged on a legitimate hire outside his area or returning to his own area immediately following completion of such a hire. However, the request for hiring must have been "received" by the driver otherwise than in a public place from the prospective passenger (or a person acting on behalf of the prospective passenger) for a journey beginning there and then. This makes it possible therefore for a hirer in a licensed area to phone for a taxi or private hire car in another licensed area to come and pick him up, provided that the request was received by the driver - via for example the firm's office - in the area for which he is licensed or while he is outside his area in the course of a legitimate hire. But it would be an offence, for example, for a taxi to be hired after being simply hailed in the street when outside the area for which it was licensed to operate. It would also be an offence deliberately to station taxis to park or cruise in another licensing area so as to respond to radio calls sent from their headquarters for hiring in that area and similarly it would be an offence for private hire cars to pick up passengers following such arrangements. The exemptions in 21(2) do not extend to vehicles which are not licensed as taxis or private hire cars by any licensing authority, though a specific exemption is made in section 22(a) for circumstances where the picking up of passengers is in fulfilment of a contract made outside the licensing area.

2.52 Section 16 provides for licensed Scottish taxis and private hire cars to pick up passengers by prior arrangement in England in controlled areas under the Local Government. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. Reciprocal exemptions are provided in subsection (3) for licensed English taxis and private hire cars to pick up passengers by prior arrangement in areas licensed under the Civic Government Act.

2.53 It is an offence for the holder of a taxi or private hire car operator's licence to allow a person other than a duly licensed driver to operate the vehicle as a taxi or private hire car. Using the vehicle for private purposes or for testing would not be an offence. The person other than the licensed driver would also be personally liable for having committed the offence under section 7 of driving without a licence.

2.54 Offence provisions are also provided for:

a. A person's demanding fares or other scales in respect of a hire of a taxi, or a private hire car which is fitted with a taxi meter, in excess of the scales determined by the licensing authority or the Commissioner.
b. Without good cause breaking the seal on a taxi meter, or operating or driving a vehicle knowing that the seal has been broken. Someone repairing the taxi meter would of course have good cause to break the seal.
c. Without reasonable excuse causing any vehicle (including a private hire car) other than a taxi to wait on a taxi stance.

Savings for Certain Vehicles Etc

2.55 Section 22 exempts certain vehicles which might otherwise be caught by the definitions in section 23 and the offences in section 21 from the scope of the taxi and hire car licensing system:

a. vehicles picking up passengers whom they have previously dropped as part of an arrangement for a "to and from" journey outside the area.
b. vehicles while being used in connection with a wedding or funeral.
c. vehicles let on an exclusive "hire" for periods of not less than 24 hours.

The exemptions do not apply however to the offence provisions of section 21(7), regarding the waiting without reasonable excuse of a vehicle other than a taxi on an appointed taxi stance.

Interpretation of sections 10 to 23

2.56 Section 23 defines a "taxi" and "private hire car". These definitions provide that a taxi can do everything that a private hire car can do and in addition it can pick up passengers without prior booking in a public place - for example streets, stances, and stations. A taxi can therefore "ply for hire" and can be flagged down without prior arrangement in a street or other public place (defined in section 133). By contrast, although a private hire car can be made available for personal conveyance with a view to profit (at a freely negotiated price) it cannot, like a taxi, be engaged by arrangements made in a public place between the potential passenger and its driver for a journey beginning "there and then".

2.57 The section introduces a general class of "hire car" and defines it as a motor vehicle with a driver, other than a public service vehicle, which is with a view to profit available for hire by the public for personal conveyance. The reference to "view to profit" in the general hire car definition is to exclude from the licensing requirements voluntary transport arrangements - such as those for disabled people - where a small charge is made but which are run basically as a charitable activity. The effect of excluding a PSV within the meaning of section l(l)(a) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 is to exclude from the definition of hire car all vehicles seating more than 8 passengers. Note that the effect of section 14(1) of the Transport Act 1985, as read with section 23 of this Act, is that taxi or private hire cars do not become PSVs only because they are carrying at separate fares, unless (in the case of a taxi) the vehicle is a taxi-bus. That is, taxi-buses are PSVs, within the meaning of the 1981 Act: however, by virtue of section 12(13) of the Transport Act 1985 and the Regulations made under section 12(10), they are subject to quality control under taxi rather than PSV legislation.

2.58 A taxi is defined as a special case of hire car if it satisfies two further conditions:-

a. it is engaged by arrangements made in a public place between the person to be conveyed. (or a person acting on his behalf); and
b. the journey for which. it is engaged must begin there and then - that is, there is no advance booking.

Once a vehicle is licensed for operation as a taxi then it is statutorily treated as a taxi at all times provided that it is operating within the definition of "hire car" - it is, with a view to profit, made available for hire by the public for personal conveyance. That is, a taxi operating in a manner in which a private hire car may operate - for example responding to a radio booking - remains a taxi, and still subject to the controls over taxis - notably of course those on fares.

2.59 A private hire car is defined as any kind of "hire car" other than a taxi. While a private hire car cannot, unlike a taxi, respond to requests to stop when flagged down in the street or pick up passengers in any public place without prior booking it can pick up passengers in a public place by arrangement by means of prior booking and can also respond to radio bookings.