Saturday, July 06, 2013

Taxis and Private Hire License Fees Overcharge: Manchester show the way to go

Earlier this year, London taxi drivers complained that they were being overcharged by LTPH in respect of getting their vehicle plated by at the new NSL passing stations.

Although a new company had taken over the responsibility of licensing taxis and minicabs from SGS, the test had been redefined by TfL/LTPH  with a reduced fee. But LTPH kept the license fee artificially high for the first month (March 2013) of their operation. Plus any owner who booked an inspection for the month of April but made the booking in March was charged the old inflated price. 

The amount charged to both Taxi drivers and Private Hire for the month of March, was double the actual cost of the inspection. The excess part of the overcharged was kept by LTPH who claim that it was part of their forecast budget for the year which ended on April 1st. 

With the recent successful case against Westminster council by sex shop owners, it has been made perfectly clear in law that a licensing authority can only charge a licensee the true cost for the administration of the license. 

Our fellow Taxi and PH colleagues in Manchester, have taken action against their licensing authority (MCR), because they feel they have been made to pay unlawful charges. 

Below is a post from the Manchester Drivers Forum MR BlackCab on pro boards.

MCR Licensing Audit

You all know by now that, The National Private Hire Association, at the request of the Manchester trade, has been locked in an audit of the MCR Licensing accounts for the year ended 2012.

This process ended on 18 June, after 15 months.

The auditor agreed with the Association, that several aspects of the Council accounts revealed unlawful charges. The Auditor however refused to go to Court and obtain a public interest certificate.

This means we have to go to the High Court to obtain a judgment and to ask for recovery of any monies wrongly charged.

If successful, what would it mean to you, a Manchester Hackney proprietor ??

1. The £170 per licence, charged for the ‘Taxi Marshalls’ would have to be refunded, this could be back dated, by up to six years. That would mean anybody who owns a Hackney plate now, or in the last 7 years could receive over a Grand. 

2. Any re test fee’s, currently £35 each, which have been paid unlawfully in the last 7 years would have to be refunded.

3. A further £69,171 error has been found in accounts, only 30% of this is ours, the other 70% is charged to PH vehicles. That is still another £19 per plate for up to 7 years (6 years up to 2012, and this year 2013).

In total we have identified £812,238 of unlawful charges for year ended 2012 alone.

To get this money back, we have to go to the High Court, we have engaged a Q.C., we have pro bono solicitors. We need your cash. Please start to collect £50 per plate.

We can do it easily, if everybody chips in.

Remember what happened when the last whip round failed. All fears of Arrow Cars abuse of the Law, assisted by the Council, came true.

The abuse of the Hackney trade rose again at the recent Concerts held in the City, where the law was broken several times, with the assistance of the Authority you pay.

Quote from Irish History

“If you do not stand for something”
“You fall for everything”

Do not fall for anymore, chip in now and stop this abuse.

High Court Rules (Administrative) no 3.2, require that we issue a letter of Intent

That letter is being prepared now by our Legal team. It will be arriving on the Chief Execs desk very soon.

3.2 Before making your claim for judicial review, you should send a letter to the defendant. The purpose of this letter is to identify the issues in dispute and establish whether litigation can be avoided.

The letter should contain the date and details of the decision, act or omission being challenged and a clear summary of the facts on which the claim is based.

It should also contain the details of any relevant information that the claimant is seeking and an explanation of why this is considered relevant. A claim should not normally be made until the proposed reply date given in the letter before claim has passed, unless the circumstances of the case require more immediate action to be taken. 

To donate;

The National Private Hire Association.

0161 280 2800 between 10am and 3 pm, Mon to Fri

Ask for Karen and have your card ready.

If you prefer, pay by direct transfer to:

National Private Hire Legal Services LTD (NPHLS Ltd.)

Bank sort Code ; 30-91-48

Account Number;01011017

Your ref ; MCRHV xxxx (your plate number).


This is the first opportunity to have this matter ventilated in Court since the 1970’s. Do not waste this chance, chip in now. TODAY !

Now what does this mean for London
We would suggest that the extra charge of £52 made by LTPH for the vehicle license made in the month of March 2013 which affected approx 2000 Licensed Hackney carriages and 6250 Private hire vehicles in unlawful
We would suggest the all retest fees made by SGS were unlawful
We would suggest that any extention made to the license fee to cover the cost of Marshalling or enforcement is unlawful.

In a speech earlier this year Mayor Boris Johnston stated that TfL had put aside a million pounds from the license fees to help fund cab enforcement and Safer Travel Command. If this statement in true then this act is unlawful and all monies overcharged should be refunded to the vehicle owners.

If you are a member of a trade org, you should ask them to act on your behalf and demand an audit of LTPHs administration to a certain how much our trade has been over charged for vehicle and driver license with a view to legal action to demand refunds.

Recently I spoke to a driver who is not in any trade org, but is considering taking the former director of LTPH John Mason, to the small claims court over the overcharged license fee in March. 
Taxi leaks will keep you informed of this personal action as and when it takes place.


Anonymous said...

London drivers won't lift a finger to claim back what they are owed
They will continue to stick their heads in the sand and carry on regardless of being continually shafted.

Anonymous said...

I'm the chair of the city of Salford private hire association, at the same time as Manchester we got the same QC to give his view on what is legal and what is not, it cost us 3 grand to get that, but unlike Manchester the council have lowered the licence fees for drivers and operators. Since 2001 an operator with one vehicle has always been higher than 150 quid until we challenged these fees it was 209 quid now I'm proud to sayits just 140 quid, have they given refund yet? No.
It's time black cab drivers and private hire drivers came together and the whole UK trades should put into this pot of funds, because when Manchester win this one the whole UK trades will win,officers stated the Soho case wasn't taxi as we all know to well,but we have to test this decision and the same on all the other court case that have gone in our favour.
Let's get that fund started up and let both private hire and black cab drivers be united in beating these councils up and down the UK. Never have we been in such a good position to get a victory.

Anonymous said...

Manchester Private Hire Association

Over the past 2 years we have developed a good working relationship with our black cab colleagues here in Manchester - it is important that the trade stands together against any council that sees fit to overcharge drivers for their budget downfalls.

Drivers work very hard to provide for their families - if this overchargement against the trade continues it will ultimately affect all of us - Its time to stand up and be counted!!

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention both Manchester and Salford private hire and Taxi drivers have come together on this with the national association Bryan Rowland giving more than a helping hand. For more information see the on this site you will see one private hire operator donating 3 grand, Come on drivers get your hands in your pocket.
Tom Rook chair of the city of Salford private hire association.