The law states that a licensing authority can legally cap the number of taxis but not private hire

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Image credit: Pixabay

Licensing authorities up and down the UK have the powers to limit the amount of hackney carriage licences that are issued, if they feel that current numbers meet the demand of the public.

This law, written in the Roads Traffic Act 1985, is not mirrored when it comes to private hire driver licences.

Hackney carriage drivers can be hailed for immediate hire by members of the public, whereas private hire drivers must be pre-booked through a licensed operator.

With the ever-increasing number of ride-sharing apps launching in the UK, private hire numbers continue to rise.

The question has been raised in the past by taxi drivers and representatives of the trade, as to why PHV licences can't be capped in the same way hackney carriages can.

The simple answer given by those challenged is that the law doesn't allow them to - and they are right. But why should there be one law for hackney carriage licences, yet another for private hire?

Section 16 of the Roads Traffic Act 1985 states: "The grant of a licence may be refused, for the purpose of limiting the number of hackney carriages in respect of which licences are granted.

"If, but only if, the person authorised to grant licences is satisfied that there is no significant demand for the services of hackney carriages (within the area to which the licence would apply) which is unmet."

This law gives the power for licensing authorities to maintain control over the amount of taxis which operate at any one given time - but not private hire.

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