Minicab drivers could have grounds to appeal ‘fraudulently’ revoked licences says legal expert

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

Drivers who obtained fraudulent minicab licences, later revoked by London’s regulator, could have grounds to appeal according to an industry legal expert.

In November, the BBC aired an investigation into private hire vehicle drivers in London fraudulently obtaining licences. The programme, Inside Out, revealed hundreds of minicab drivers working fraudulently after purchasing the required qualifications to become a private hire driver.

Researchers on the show were seen to buy qualifications at one east London college, Vista Training Solutions, which included BTecs, for fees of £500.

Transport for London (TfL) conducted an urgent review into the claims made against colleges offering the BTEC qualifications.

TfL have since revoked 143 private hire licences from drivers who received the BTEC accreditation via Vista Training Solutions. A further 209 private hire licence applications were rejected where drivers obtained their qualifications via the east London based college.

However according to Stephen McCaffrey, a Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence, the minicab drivers could have grounds to appeal the revoked licences and applications.

Stephen McCaffrey wrote via the Taxi Defence Barrister blog: “The first thing to say is that it is ultimately for a court of law to decide what is, and is not, lawful and that will be the case here too. Unless a judicial review is brought to challenge the decision to issue a blanket revocation, it will come down to individual appeal cases.

“It is a fundamental principle of UK law however that everybody must have a fair hearing. This means that each case should be determined on its individual merits. To this extent there are strong arguments in favour of TfL’s blanket decision being potentially unlawful.

“For example, it may very well be that only a small proportion of drivers actually paid for their qualification and that others obtained it legitimately. In these circumstances, TfL’s decision would be wrong. This is only one example of relevant matters that should have been taken into account.

“The fact that it has not may be indicative of TfL’s failure and/or unwillingness to properly discharge its regulatory and legal functions. Due to the numbers involved, it may be that TfL has taken the view that it may be less costly to deal with individual appeal cases.”

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