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KNOW THE LAW: Refusing jobs without ‘reasonable excuse’

Updated: May 8, 2023

Refusing a taxi fare without a valid reason can land taxi drivers in all sorts of problems. These can range from court appearances and fines, to licensing suspensions and revocations in some cases.

In England the offence falls under section 53 of the Town and Police Clauses Act 1847. Under the act any driver who refuses or neglects without reasonable excuse to drive a passenger within the city boundaries commits an offence.

Taxi journeys that start in the controlled district but end outside of that area CAN be refused as there is no statutory duty on the driver to accept a booking outside of the controlled district.

A taxi driver can also refuse to carry passengers within a controlled district if he or she has reasonable excuse to do so. What is classed as a ‘reasonable excuse’ is a matter for a court of law to determine, but you can be sure refusing a job because it was too short would not suffice.

Licensed taxi drivers are considered public service providers, and as such, they have a legal duty to provide a service to passengers unless they have a very valid reason not to do so. The Equality Act 2010 requires taxi drivers to provide services to all passengers regardless of their race, gender, age, disability, or any other characteristic that might be considered discriminatory. This means that they cannot refuse to pick up a passenger on the grounds of their protected characteristics.

However, there are some circumstances where a taxi driver may be exempt from providing a service, such as if they feel threatened or unsafe, or if the passenger is excessively drunk or disorderly.


Section 53 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847

Penalty on driver for refusing to drive.

‘A driver of a hackney carriage standing at any of the stands for hackney carriages appointed by the commissioners, or in any street, who refuses or neglects, without reasonable excuse, to drive such carriage to any place within the prescribed distance, or the distance to be appointed by any byelaw of the commissioners, not exceeding the prescribed dis- tance to which he is directed to drive by the person hiring or wishing to hire such carriage, shall for every such offence be liable to a penalty not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.’


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