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CROSS-BORDER TAXI SHOWDOWN: Operators win appeal against council to use out-of-area cabs

Updated: Mar 24

In a significant legal cross-border hiring related showdown at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court, taxi operators Christopher Hall and 57 Taxis Ltd, trading as ‘Drive’, emerged victorious against City Of York Council.

The dispute centred on the council’s imposition of additional conditions on the operator’s licence granted to Hall, sparking a broader debate on regulatory powers and natural justice within the taxi licensing framework.

The court's deliberation, presided over by District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) Lower, culminated on 11 March 2024, overturning the council’s decision on the grounds of breaching principles of natural justice. The case, referred to as Hall and Drive v CYC, revolved around the council’s decision to attach supplementary conditions to the operator’s licence beyond the standard requirements, a move the appellants contested as unjust and lacking in procedural fairness.

The court found that the additional conditions were added without prior notice to Mr. Hall, denying him the opportunity to contest or discuss the implications on his business, which operates across multiple districts. This was deemed a "clear breach of natural justice".

The controversy originally stemmed from the council's Licensing Committee’s decision on 21 December 2022, following an application made by Hall on behalf of 57 Taxis Ltd. The imposed conditions aimed at enhancing public safety by requiring external drivers to meet specific York standards, including a controversial requirement for non-York licensed drivers to undertake York's Knowledge and Safeguarding Test.

Judge Lower’s ruling underscored a failure by the Committee to provide a transparent rationale for the additional measures, emphasising the absence of a published policy or prior consultation on these unprecedented conditions. This led to the conclusion that the conditions imposed were not only disproportionate but also a deviation from established legal frameworks, notably the Deregulation Act 2015, which permits cross-border hiring practices.

Furthermore, the case shed light on the broader implications for the taxi industry, particularly around the 'right to roam' provision, which allows operators to subcontract drivers from different jurisdictions. The appellants argued that the additional conditions unjustly restricted their operational freedom, hindering business growth and competition, notably against non-York regulated entities like Uber.

In a striking rebuke of the council's approach, the court ordered the removal of the additional conditions, reaffirming the operator’s licence without the contested stipulations. Additionally, the council was directed to cover the appellants' legal costs, amounting to £18,500, marking a precedent-setting moment for the regulation of private hire operators across the UK.


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