Refusal of Hackney Carriage Licence by Transport for London successfully appealed in the Magistrates Court
Our Client Mr. DL, had applied for a London Taxi Driver’s Licence (Hackney Carriage Licence). Taxi licences are issued by ‘Transport for London (TFL)’, who are the responsible authority for issuing London Taxi Driver’s Licences. He was informed that his application was refused. The refusal letter stated that according to the information recorded on his DBS disclosure, TFL determined that he was not a ‘fit and proper person’ for the purposes of being licensed. There were two entries on his DBS disclosure relating to allegations of sexual offences. His application was rejected. Following this decision, an application was made for a statutory right for a re-consideration of the decision under Section 17 (2) (a) of the Transports Act, 1985(as amended). They convened in April, 2014, full written representations on the facts and the law were drafted by our specialist taxi licensing and appeals barrister.
Our client was aged 27 of previous good character with no criminal convictions or cautions recorded against him. The panel concluded that it was a “borderline decision” and ultimately refused the application. An appeal was lodged by our barrister to the Magistrates Court against the decision of TFL and the panel. The same written representations were submitted. The DBS disclosure was explained in detail that it contains two matters, neither of which resulted in a criminal conviction. The second matter did not even result in a police prosecution and it was highlighted that the alleged facts of one of the incidents was not entirely conveyed in the DBS disclosure information and that he was found not guilty, following a trial by Jury at in the Crown Court, where the jury had accepted his defence. It was argued:
1) The Not Guilty verdict was a full acquittal before a crown court Judge and Jury hearing all the facts of the case. They jury returned their ‘not guilty verdict’ unanimously in 40 Minutes. The Jury had the opportunity to fully consider and evaluate all the evidence (both prosecution and defence) and assess the reliability of the complainant’s evidence as well as assessing her demeanour and reliability in court.
2) One of the important features of the evidence at the trial was that the complainant had made previous allegations of rape or sexual assault against other men (all unrelated). These allegations did not result in criminal prosecutions and no further action was taken either because they were unsubstantiated by the Complainant or due to factual discrepancies in her account.
In certain circumstances, a licensing authority may be able to go behind the facts of an acquittal, if relevant to issues of public safety. For example, where an accused person has been acquitted on a technical issue or a technical point of law where the complainant has not given evidence on oath, where a Judge has stayed a case, or where a case has been withdrawn from a jury and a technical acquittal ordered. In those circumstances, it can be argued that a court has not determined the truthfulness of the account given by the complainant or had the opportunity to test the evidence in cross examination, which are relevant for taxi licence considerations. However such scenario did not apply to our client case.
In this case it was successfully argued that whilst the strict rules of evidence do not apply to taxi licencing matters, there was clear material upon which it can be concluded that it is disproportionate for Transport for London to refuse the taxi licence application on the basis of allegations which have been disproved in court or unsubstantiated allegations which did not result in any further action. His application, which include these representations, should be considered on the unique facts of his case which provide significant mitigation and material upon which his application can be considered, which the Magistrates accepted and his taxi appeal and PHV licence were allowed.
Our Client remained committed to becoming a licensed taxi driver. Despite his arrest and the stress of these proceedings hanging over him, he has nonetheless, completed all four books on the knowledge. Throughout this difficult period our client maintained his studies and determination to complete the knowledge. Presently, he has completed all the relevant material for the 3rd year of knowledge and would be ready to undertake the examination to become a Hackney Carriage Taxi driver.
Our client is a licenced private-hire taxi driver who had his licence revoked by Transport for London on the basis that he had a conviction for common assault and that he later failed to declare the conviction to Transport for London.
One of our specialist taxi licensing barristers was instructed to lodge an appeal in the Magistrates’ court. The barrister took the view that there were particular circumstances of the offence, together with the otherwise good character of our client which justified Transport for London reconsidering their decision without the matter proceeding to a full appeal in the Magistrates’ court.
In summary, the client was sentenced to a 3 month conditional discharge for an offence of common assault. A close analysis of the papers revealed that the Magistrates had imposed a lenient sentence that there was an element of provocation, that there was no injury sustained by the alleged victim, that it was out of character and in the heat of the moment. Transport for London were persuaded that as he had pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ court for this matter and had accepted full responsibility for the offence, which was otherwise out of character – that his case warranted reconsideration on the basis that there was a “significant mitigation” exception to the policy adopted by Transport for London. That policy stipulates that drivers who have been convicted for an offence of violence would be ineligible to re-apply for a period of between 3-5 years, depending on the seriousness of the offence.
The failure to notify was also accepted as being a genuine mistake owing to the fact that our clients father-in-law was terminally ill with blood cancer and that he was under a great deal of stress and pressure at the time. Otherwise Transport for London’s policy provides that the failure to disclose a conviction results in automatic license revocation and means that the taxi license holder cannot re-apply for a period of 12 months.
The license was reinstated without having to pursue the full appeal in the City of London Magistrates’ Court.
It is not the case that every license revocation or refusaa will be reconsidered by a licensing authority. However, in some cases there is often important evidence and material which may have not been taken into account by the decision maker which justifies a different approach. As a significant proportion of taxi license revocations (both hackney carriage and PCO) arise from allegations of criminal conduct we use our expertise as criminal barristers to obtain important documents and records which may have been used in criminal proceedings but have not been presented to the licensing authority.
If you are a licensed taxi driver and have had your license suspended or revoked call today for free initial advice on how to appeal 0208 123 9999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org