If you intend to use and operate passenger vehicles as part of your business you are required to comply with all legal requirements including those relating to driver licensing, drivers’ hours, fit and serviceable vehicles, operator licensing and insurance. The licensing of operators and drivers of passenger vehicles being used commercially (taxis, minibuses, coaches and buses) will depend on the size and nature of the vehicle and the work being undertaken.
Any transport activity that has a direct or indirect commercial element (hire or reward) will normally require specific types of operator licensing and driver’s licence entitlements. For example, a school not public-funded may need a licence to operate its school buses for home to school transport and/or for sports and trips. School staff will require the correct driver licence entitlement. This can be a complex area of law.
Taxis and private hire vehicles are licensed and overseen by local government, whilst the Office of the Traffic Commissioner issues public service vehicle (PSV) licences to operate passenger vehicles that can carry nine or more passengers and to operate a smaller vehicle carrying passengers and charging separate fares for the journey.
It also issues Restricted licences to cover small operations for one or two vehicles, neither carrying more than 8 passengers, unless they are not used as a part of a passenger business (i.e. it is not the main occupation) in which case 16 passengers can be carried. There is also a Special Restricted licence category allowing taxis and private hire vehicles to be used for local bus services. (See our operator licensing page)
If you have an organisation providing provide transport on a ‘not-for-profit’ basis there is a system of Section 19 / 22 permits issued under the Transport Act 1985. This allows transport services for hire or reward without the entity needing a full public service vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence.
The business must ensure its drivers have the correct driver licence entitlement.
A category B car licence will cover vehicles up to eight passenger seats. A category D licence permits the driving of vehicles with nine or more passenger seats. Drivers need an unrestricted full D1 (or D) PCV entitlement on their licence to drive minibuses i.e. a vehicle with between 9 and 16 passenger seats) for hire or reward. (If you passed your test before 1/1/97 you can drive one as this was automatically part of the licence grant - but not for hire or reward as there is a 101 restriction on the licence. If you passed your test on or after 1/1/97 you can also drive one - again not for hire or reward – but only if certain specific conditions are fulfilled and the driver is providing his or her services on a voluntary basis for a non-commercial organisation.)
Drivers will also need to comply with all relevant Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) requirements which cover category D (and DE) and D1 (and D1E) licences. This involves attending 35 hours of training given by an accredited body within every five year period. (See our guide to driving licensing)
Are you a taxi operator or driver?
Are you in jeopardy of losing your taxi licence, either for a period of suspension, or because of revocation? Has your application been refused?
Should I be represented at an interview with the licensing officers? What if they caution me, should I answer their questions?
Are you due to appear before the council taxi licensing sub-committee? What happens and how do you deal with the hearing? What is the “fit and proper person” test? Should I be represented at the hearing? Will it stop me losing my licence?
Will my taxi licence be suspended prior to the hearing or may I still work? What if the committee find against me, and do suspend or revoke my licence, can I appeal? Is there a time limit to lodge the appeal?
These are just a few of the questions that are likely to be flying around in your head.
We regularly represent both operators and drivers across the country and we are here to help. It is important that you seek early advice, whatever the issue you are confronted with. We recognise how important the licence you hold is to your livelihood or business. It is important to manage both the investigation and the hearing(s).
We are able to advise on:
- pre-interview advice with the Licensing Department
- draft responses in reply to enquiries from Licensing Officers
- make written representations prior to a hearing before a taxi licensing sub-committee.
We are able to represent you before:
- taxi licensing sub-committees
- Magistrates and Crown Courts.
- driving offences to prevent disqualification
- appeals against suspension or revocation of your taxi licence
- breaches of Council taxi policy
- plying for hire
- operator reviews
- DBS disclosures.
An appeal to the Magistrates Court must be lodged within 21 days of receipt of a decision letter from the sub-committee.
This means you need to seek urgent advice, as a failure to meet this deadline may lead to your appeal being refused. A Council will always seek to defend the decision of their Licensing sub-committee and will ensure they are legally represented. We suggest you are too.