Taxi and Private Hire License Update: What Does It Mean for Drivers and Operators? – Rail, Road & Cycling

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On March 31, 2022, the Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguard and Road Safety) Act 2022 (there “Law“) received Royal Assent, with the law coming into force and being implemented on May 31, 2022.

The Act primarily creates a centralized database for English licensing authorities (“The ace“) to record “relevant information” regarding taxi drivers and private rental vehicles (“PHV“) drivers, while also imposing various obligations on LAs to communicate with each other to improve public protection and traffic safety.

Background

The law was first proposed as a Private member’s bill in the House of Commons on 16 June 2021 by Peter Gibson, MP (Con. Darlington), following a detailed report entitled “Steps towards a safer and more robust system” (there “Report“) prepared by the Ministry of Transport(“DfT“) Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing, itself chaired by Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq of the University of Bolton.

The report itself examined a number of recommendations made as early as 2014 by the Law Commission as part of its Taxi and Private Hire Services Report, and made 34 “recommendations” to the DfT for implementation to improve road safety and public protection; many of which have been implemented by law.

What is the License Information Database?

The law provides for the creation of a “license information database” (the “Database“), operated under the delegated authority of the Secretary of State for Transportation, which is intended to record “permitting decision information” and other “relevant information”.

The purpose of storing and centralizing this information is to ensure that LAs have access to driver information that has been collected by other LAs and not previously shared.

The intention of the database is therefore to prevent tragedies such as the Death of Sian O’Callaghanwho was murdered in 2011 by a taxi driver who had previously been charged (but not prosecuted) with murder in 2007, of which the relevant LA was unaware.

What information will be stored in the database?

Below Section 2 of the Act, LAs have a duty to record information on licensing decisions. Specifically, when they have decided to deny an application or renewal, or to suspend or revoke a license, they must record that decision in the database.

In addition, the LA is obliged to register the personal data of the driver in question, as well as the “relevant information”, in the database.

The information must be retained for a period of 11 years and must be updated by the LA to remain accurate – particularly in the event of a successful appeal against a licensing decision (for example).

What is meant by “relevant information”?

Section 1 of the Act provides a long list of questions that would constitute “relevant information” (and therefore must be recorded) for the purposes of the law. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • Allegations of sexual offences, harassment, harassment;

  • Alleged breaches of equality law (including discrimination or victimisation);

  • Allegations of threatening, abusive or insulting behavior;

  • Road Safety Risk Claims;

  • Allegations of unfitness to hold a license; and

  • Any attempted infringement, conspiracy, aiding/abetting or inciting any infringement.

It should be understood that this is not a record of convicted criminal offenses (in the same way as the national police computer would be), but rather a record of any such allegation when there is “information indicating that a person has” been involved in such conduct. Thus, no formal conviction or even indictment is necessary for the information to be recorded on the Database.

What other obligations does the law impose on licensing authorities?

In addition to registration requirements, Section 3 of the Act requires LAs to search the database before making a licensing decision, and Section 5 imposes an obligation to report concerns about drivers licensed in other jurisdictions.

Regarding Section 5, the new law states that an LA who becomes aware of “relevant information” regarding concerns about a driver who has driven in their area but is licensed by another LA, must report concerns to this second LA if they themselves would have considered suspending/revoking driver’s license.

Under these circumstances, it is clear that a duty of co-operation between LAs has been imposed in an attempt to prevent the tragedy of Sian O’Callaghan from happening again – a decision which has been welcomed by the charity raising awareness of harassment and harassment
Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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