Becoming a Private Hire Driver
Have you ever wondered whether you could work as a taxi driver but have no idea about the process?
Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licences are granted by Local Authorities outside of London or by TfL within the London area. Private Hire refers to trips booked through an Operator by phone or app, from a smaller business through to companies such as Uber and Bolt. Hackney Carriage Drivers can collect passengers directly from the street without a pre booked journey. The law has been clarified that as a Driver you are an employee and usually entitled to sick pay and holiday pay.
The application for a Private Hire or Hackney Carriage Driver Licence is made in writing using the forms available online from the Local Authority or TfL. The legal criteria is that you have held a Driving Licence for at least 12 months but each authority has additional rules on previous convictions and past licence history, which may prevent a Licence being granted. The licencing authority may invite the applicant to provide further evidence or to speak to a Committee before the application is decided.
Typically, recent major driving offences, such as Drink Driving or Careless Driving, will prevent a Licence being granted, along with convictions for Drugs or Dishonesty Offences. The national Statutory Guidance suggests that any conviction or caution for any type of Sexual Offence, regardless of the date of conviction will result in an application being refused.
Keeping a Licence
Whilst the Licence is active, the Driver is expected to uphold the very professional standards and integrity to ensure that road safety and passenger safety are prioritised. Drivers must be considered ‘fit and proper’ which includes being honest, safe and reliable. There is a duty to inform the Licencing Authority of any pending investigation of conviction which could result in the Licence being suspended or revoked. Before that decision is made, you may also be called to a Licencing Meeting or Committee Hearing, given a further opportunity to provide an explanation. Failure to declare a conviction or endorsement to the Licencing Authority will be treated as a serious matter and can be a reason to revoke a Licence.
Appealing a Decision
If an adverse decision is made either suspending or revoking the Private Hire or Hackney Carriage Licence, or refusing to grant this, there is a right of appeal. You must act quickly as there is a 21 day deadline. The appeal is the Magistrates’ Court and you must show that the decision was wrong. The Court will then hear the case afresh and make a decision based upon all of the evidence heard, using the Policy in place at that time.
There is a further appeal to the Crown Court if required.
At Smith Bowyer Clarke, we have many years’ experience dealing with Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Driver Licence investigations and appeals. For any advice and free initial consultation, call our team today.