Saturday, 1 October 2016

UCG's Letter To Commissioner Hogan Howe.


The following is the draft of a letter sent to Chief Commissioner Hogan Howe from the UCG. 

Dear Commissioner Hogan Howe,

My name is Lee Osborne; I am a licensed London Taxi driver and committee member of the United Cabbies Group. 

Last week I attended a meeting with senior police officers to discuss the UCG's planned demonstration, due to take place, in Whitehall on the 21st September at 2pm.

During this meeting I asked some questions that the officers present were unable to answer; it was suggested that I write to you to seek answers and clarification.

The questions are in relation to certain sections of legislation pertaining to plying for hire and specifically whether private hire companies and their drivers are in breach of the law, by utilising instant hailing mobile phone applications to attract business.

As I'm sure you are aware, only licensed London Taxis  (Black cabs) are entitled to ply for hire, on the streets of London; this privilege is hard earned and is only achieved by completing the world famous series of examinations known as the 'knowledge of London'.

The whole process takes on average between 3-5 years to complete. Students must undertake a host of personal background checks including, enhanced DBS and driving tests; we are also required to drive an expensive purpose built Taxi that is wheelchair accessible and adapted to accommodate passengers with various needs and disabilities. Furthemore, the 'knowledge' is self funded by the student.

In the year 2000 the administration of the knowledge was passed from the Metropolitan Police to Transport for London (TfL).

In 1998 mini cabs / private hire vehicles were licensed, in London, for the first time and new legislation was passed with the introduction of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) act 1998. Since then a 2 tier system of Taxis and Private Hire vehicles has operated somewhat harmoniously.

The fundamental difference between Taxis & PH is that only Taxis are entitled to respond to street hails from members of the public and pick up passengers from designated Taxi ranks. Private hire or minicabs have always, by law, only been permitted to undertake pre-booked journeys made through a licensed operator.

Therefore, a PH driver who solicits for work by exhibiting availability or transports a passenger, without a prior booking is breaking the law by illegally plying for hire.

Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, Section 7 

Penalty on use of unlicensed carriages. 
If any unlicensed hackney carriage plies for hire, the owner of such carriage shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds for every day during which such unlicensed carriage plies. And if any unlicensed hackney carriage is found on any stand within the limits of this Act, the owner of such carriage shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds for each time it is so found. The driver also shall in every such case be liable to a like penalty unless he proves that he was ignorant of the fact of the carriage being an unlicensed carriage. 
Any hackney carriage plying for hire, and any hackney carriage found on any stand without having such distinguishing mark, or being otherwise distinguished in such manner as may for the time being be prescribed, shall be deemed to be an unlicensed carriage.
Section 45 of the Town and Police Clauses Act 1847 

provides that it is an offence for a person to stand or ply for hire without a Hackney carriage licence. Accordingly, it is an offence for any person to ply for hire with any carriage which in effect is being used as a Hackney carriage without previously having obtained the requisite licence for that purpose. 

I have studied numerous examples of historic case law where drivers have been prosecuted and subsequently convicted of plying for hire. I have listed below samples of case law that I believe prove that the law is being broken:

Ogwr Borough Council v Baker [1989] COD 489 

Eastbourne Borough Council v Stirling [2000] All ER (D) 1602

Nottingham City Council v Woodings [1994] RTR 72

Yates v Gates [1970] 2 QB 27 [1970] 1 All ER 754 

Cogley v Sherwood and Sales v Lake [1922] 1KB 553

Allen V Tunbridge [1871] LR 6 CP 481

Clarke & Goodge v Stanford [1871] LR 6 QB 357

White V  Cubitt [1930] 1 KB 443 DC

Gilbert V McKay [1946] 1 All ER 458, 44 LGR 63, 110 JP 186, 90 Sol Jo 201, 174 LT 196, 62 TLR 226 

Rose V Welbeck Motors Ltd and Another [1962] 1 WLR 1010, [1962] 2 ALL ER 801, QBD

In the majority, of the above cases, the judges' summing up is very consistent and tends to centre around specific circumstances, for example:

The vehicle being parked in view of the public in a location where the public could reasonably expect to find a vehicle for hire, such as in close proximity to a licensed Taxi rank, train station or transport hub, where the driver of the vehicle's sole purpose, of being there, is to be available for hire.

PH vehicles in London are easily identifiable as they are required by their licensing authority (TfL) to display luminous roundels in the front and rear windscreens; some private hire operators also display the company name on the rear window and roof of the vehicle.

'Quote' there is no comprehensive and authoritative definition of plying for hire. It is a question of ‘fact and agree’ in each case. 

Defining ‘plying for hire’ has always proven difficult, throughout history; in 2012 a group of 13 subject matter expert lawyers, working under the guidance of the law commissioner, unsuccessfully attempted to define ‘plying for hire’.  

However, in the cases where a prosecution has been successful the judges' summing up has been consistent with the points I have raised above.

For a number of years I have questioned TfL with regards to the legitimacy of night time venues in London that employ a booking agent, normally located outside of a venue, whose sole purpose is to take and record bookings for Private Hire vehicles, registered with a licensed operator at a specific venue. These type of operations are commonly referred to as 'satellite offices'.

Satellite offices recently came under scrutiny by the Greater London Authority (GLA) in their future proof report; the report suggested that it would require a significant increase in enforcement officers to ensure they were operating legally, it also acknowledges that satellite offices often attract illegal mini cab touts and sexual predators.

It has always been my opinion that Private Hire Vehicles waiting to be hired outside of venues are exhibiting themselves as available for hire. The circumstances are almost identical to those laid out in the case law I referred to earlier (specifically Ogwr Borough Council v Baker which is a carbon copy of the situation outside every venue in London each night.) Therefore I believe Private Hire vehicles parked and waiting to be hired are illegally plying for hire.

TfL, as the regulator, have always maintained that in the opinion of their in-house legal team, satellite offices and specifically the vehicles parked in view of the public, whose sole purpose of being there is to be available for hire, is not in breach of legislation and illegally plying for hire.

I have asked, on many occasions, for TfL to provide me with a copy of the written legal opinion they have on this matter and to detail exactly why they believe these vehicles and their drivers are not breaking the law. To this date no such opinion or detail has been provided by TfL or their legal team.

Furthermore, my requests for TfL to undertake a test purchase, or test case on this matter, have always been rebutted.

My question to you, as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, is whose decision is it to arrest a driver suspected of illegally plying for hire? 

As far as I am aware, all of the case law I have provided is still current and has not been superseded or changed, therefore, unless you know of any other reason why this legislation is not upheld, I would like to know why the Metropolitan Police do not make arrests for this criminal activity?

Arrests for ‘plying for hire’ in the circumstances I have described are made on a regular basis in other major UK cities, particularly in Birmingham, where a traffic Police officer, I follow on Twitter, regularly tweets details of arrests made on Private Hire drivers for ‘plying for hire’.

The officers I spoke with last week appeared to be unaware of the laws pertaining to ‘plying for hire’. Can you please advise me whether training on Hackney carriage and Private Hire law is still provided to Police officers of all ranks? Would you also be able to provide me with, or direct me to any literature that is provided to officers on this matter?

I am aware that the Metropolitan Police have a "cab enforcement unit" that is dedicated to policing Taxis and Private Hire drivers and that unit is funded in part by TfL, can you assure me that the Metropolitan Police policy on plying for hire is not based on or influenced by TfL's legal opinion? 

It appears that the ‘plying for hire’ laws are either being deliberately ignored, by your officers or there has been a failure in the training given, resulting in your officers not understanding or enforcing the law. Please could you let me know which is correct.

In recent years, we have witnessed the birth of Private Hire booking apps such as Uber; these apps have the facility to display live availability of vehicles that can be electronically hailed by using a smart phone.

I believe displaying available vehicles live, on a smart phone, is akin to ‘plying for hire’ and as a direct consequence of this, many Uber and PH drivers are encouraged to wait outside busy transport hubs like: train and bus stations, airports, theatres, night venues and restaurants, with the sole purpose of being virtually hailed through the booking app, on the drivers’ mobile phones. I'm sure you don't need me to remind you of the security risk this also poses, especially in the present climate where the current UK threat level, for international terrorism, is severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

I believe that this method, of securing a passenger booking, mimics the traditional street hail that is the sole reserve of licensed Taxi drivers for which they must be qualified, by way of completing the knowledge of London, to accept an instant hail!

I firmly believe that the circumstances in which prosecutions have been brought against drivers, for ‘plying for hire’ are replicated in the examples if have given, i.e, soliciting for fares in a location where the public can expect to find a vehicle for hire. The vehicle itself is exhibiting as being available for hire due to the fact that prospective passengers can see the location, of available vehicles, on their mobile phone or tablet.

The vehicles are easily identifiable, as a private hire vehicle, due to the fact that every licensed Private hire vehicle in London is required, by law, to display a luminous roundel in the front and rear windscreen.

A Recent TfL consultation paper (2015) identified this problem and proposed to introduce measures to prevent this continuing. It is apparent from the proposal that TfL agree this is a threat to public safety as they recommended the following proposal.

8. Operators must not show Vehicles being available for immediate hire, either visibly or virtually via an app

A number of consultees have suggested that, whether through an app or through physical street ranking, some operators are creating the impression of vehicles being available for immediate hire. This is increasing the risk of unnauthorised vehicle/driver "touting" and other illegal activity.

Operators with a physical base for their drivers (e.g. a local minicab office) could still have vehicles at the premises awaiting a booked journey.

Proposal

We propose to amend the PHV Regulations to require operators to ensure that private hire vehicles are not visibly shown to be available for immediate hire, whether physically (e.g. signage or otherwise on the street) or via an app, or other means.

Therefore it is my opinion that the evidence I have provided is sufficient to prove that the law is being broken and the Metropolitan Police and TfL are not enforcing the legislation surrounding ‘illegal plying’ for hire.

A recent high court judgement in Toronto (the supreme court of Ontario) tried a case against Uber and found that the driver (by admission of Uber) is taking the booking in the vehicle and we know that the App is ubiquitous across their global platform, therefore it is reasonable to extend the findings of a Commonwealth court to the UK. The court uncovered that the platform processes bookings in California which is in breach of the "Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998" as it clearly states that the booking must be taken in the licensing area (in this case London) and that the driver is not permitted to accept the booking directly.

This demonstrates either the booking is being taken in California illegally or by the driver in his vehicle illegally.

Licensed Taxi drivers have provided a professional service to London and it's visitors for over 360 years; we are fiercely proud of our reputation for being the best Taxi service on the planet; however, the livelihoods of 25,000 Taxi drivers, their families and associated businesses are under serious threat. I believe it is reasonable to expect the Metropolitan Police and our regulator TfL to fully investigate my allegations and provide me with a legal explanation as to why my trade is not receiving the protection, from law breakers, that any other business or individual can expect.

I would like to conclude by asking you to undertake a test case based on the information I have supplied. I truly believe that the only way we can ascertain whether satellite offices and Private hire booking apps are functioning legally is for our judiciary system to decide.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet, with you, at your earliest convenience, to discuss this further as it is a serious and tangible threat to public safety.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Osborne.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

What is a RIPA (RIP) ?

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (c.23) (RIP or RIPA) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications.



It doesn't always have to be Photographs. Any employee of a public body must have a RIPA to carry out any form of survalience or investigation. 




Saturday, 4 June 2016

What is Plying For Hire....by Alan Fleming

I  read  with interest in the last edition of United Cabbies News the proposals of  T&PH, for allowing PH ranks. 

Some ten years ago when at the Club I was informed that this was going to be the case in Kingston. I informed the other trade organisations but had no response. 

I did take it up with the then PCO but my observations fell on  deaf ears.  
I thought that your readers may wish to know what constitutes plying for hire.

What is plying for hire? That is a question that we all think we can answer, but can you? Since I first became a cab driver almost forty years ago I made it my business to understand the laws that we have to abide by. Further very early in my time as a driver I spent many hours reading all the stated cases involving plying for hire. Because I have done this many consider that I am an expert on the subject. Knowing what I do it has long been my opinion that the relevant  laws that govern both taxis and PHV are not fully understood by those, who regulate both trades. 

This also applies to those who make the laws and the solicitors who advise them.  Most will know that PHVs  have been licensed since 1976 under the Miscellaneous  Provisions Act. It was always said that London should not and did not need mini-cabs to be licensed as London was a special case. What ever was meant by that has always been a mystery. So now let us get on with the question of what constitutes plying for hire.


There has never been a definitive explanation for this particular part of a taxi drivers daily work. However, Butterworths legal dictionary states that the phrase is akin to waiting. Never the less we have to look at the many cases that have gone to the High Court to find the true definition. I will take you back to one of the earliest cases of unlawfully plying for hire this took place 140 years ago. The location was Harrow  Railway Station in 1871. The case in question is Clarke & Goodge v Stanford. The facts of this case are that a driver a Mr. F G Clarke took up a position on the station forecourt to await being hired. Clarke and the owner of the vehicle obviously felt they were safe as the forecourt of the station was private, but they were wrong. The driver Clarke was convicted of plying for hire and the owner Goodge convicted of owning an unlicensed hackney carriage, which both of them appealed against the conviction.


On April 29  1871 the case came before the Court of the Queens Bench in the High Court.
Lord Chief Justice Cockburn presided over the case accompanied by Mr Justice Mellor and Mr Justice Lush. The conviction was upheld. The summing up of the Lord Chief  Justice is very interesting as you  will read. This was what the LCJ had to say about the activities of F G  Clarke. The carriage was on the private forecourt of the station and was available for anyone who wished to hire his carriage, it was plying for hire.  

Although the place is private property the public are entitled to travel by train, and has a right to pass over the premises of  the railway to get in or out.  Therefore if a man is standing on those premises with his carriage to take persons who are desirous of hiring said carriage, he is plying for hire.  So the essence of plying for hire is being on view to the public at the time of hiring.    Mr. Justice Mellor stated in support the following.  


It is said there is no plying  for hire as the carriage is admitted on the railway premises under certain regulations, that is it is only to carry persons who come by train. But what is the carriage there for? Though the driver makes no sign he is there to be hired by persons who arrive by train, and there is no restriction as to the persons who, arriving by train shall hire the carriage, therefore it is plying for hire.   


Now let me rephrase that comment and apply it to Leicester Square as it was at  Xmas
The cars are in Whitcomb St under certain regulations and are only to carry passengers who make a booking  at the ticket office in Leicester Sq.  But what is the car there for? Though the driver makes no sign he is there to be hired by persons who apply to the ticket office, and there is no restriction as to the persons who apply to the office to hire the car, therefore it is plying for hire


Further to this as you know there is a taxi rank in Whitcomb St outside the hotel were cabs ply for hire, by waiting to be hired. So what is the difference between the cabs on rank and the cars who wait to be hired on the opposite side of the street? The answer is obviously none at all.  So where does this leave PHVs who stand round London, and await to be hired by radio. If they are standing in a public place at the time of the hiring they must be on view to the public. Therefore they are unlawfully plying for hire.


During that same year of 1871 there was another case came before the courts. This was Allen V Tonbridge. The case was about a Mr. Tonbridge who owned a carriage and was allowed to stand on the property of  Cannon Street railway station.  He had permission to do this by the railway company. Tonbridge had placed his carriage a Brougham on the arrivals platform and waited for the train to arrive. 

The sole purpose of this was so that his carriage could be hired, which it was. However, a Met police inspector Robert Allen saw the carriage hired and Tonbridge was summoned. He was convicted of plying for hire in the magistrates court and consequently appealed against, the conviction. The appeal came before what was then known as, The Court of Common Pleas. This was where three Chief Justices sat in Judgement. Counsel for Tonbridge argued that there was no plying for hire as the station was private property.  The senior Chief Justice summed up and delivered this judgement.


Mr. Justice Willes made the following judgement.
The carriage was in the station and was intentionally exposed so as to be hired by any person.  Moreover it was proved that actual application was made to two persons who arrived by train to hire the carriage. And the decision of the magistrates court to convict must stand. As you can see the conviction was based on the fact that the carriage was on view to the public at the appropriate time. 


Mr Justice Smith in support agreed with the judgement stating the following.

I base my judgement on the case in the Queens Bench referring  to the case of  Clarke and Stanford V Allen.  This was his judgement. It was held that if a person exposes his carriage where every body passing by may be willing to hire it, that is plying for hire.


I now come to the case of White V  Cubitt 1929 LCJ Hewart presiding in the Kings Bench Division of the High Court. This little escapade occurred in the private yard at the side of The Railway Tavern public house at the junction of, Rocks lane and  Upper  Richmond  road. The owner of the vehicle rented the space in the yard from the publican to carry out his business.  Two ladies walked into the yard from the street and hired the car to go to Richmond Park  Golf Club.  The owner of the car a Mr. Charles Cubitt was seen by Sgt White  of the Met police accepting the hiring, and  Cubitt was summoned to appear in the magistrates Court, where he was convicted.  He appealed against the conviction and the case came before the High Court.


The argument put forward by his defence counsel was that he did not ply for hire in a public place as, the yard was private property. Counsel further laboured the point that the public did not have access to the yard. However the Lord Chief Justice stated the following facts.

Although the car was on private property and the public did not have access to the yard, the vehicle was plying for hire. Again his comments in summing up are very interesting for the following reasons. The Lord Chief Justice made the following Statement. The car may have been on private property but it had been placed  in such a way in the yard and with the gates to the yard wide open, it was on full view to the public. And the conviction in the lower court was upheld. Again I have to say this puts PHVs in a position of breaking the laws of plying for hire. This for the simple fact they are on view to the public at all material times.


Lets us now come  forward a few years to 1946 this is the case of Gilbert V McKay.
McKay had an office in Rupert St. with a sign over the shop window showing that cars were for hire. Several  cars belonging to McKay were standing in the street outside of  the office.
Several people were seen to enter the office for the purpose of paying for the hire of anyone of the cars, in which they were driven away. McKay was charged with being the owner of unlicensed hackney carriages. He was convicted and fined by the Magistrates court and lodged an appeal, the appeal was dismissed. 

The  Lord Chief Justice Lord Goddard had the following to say. In my opinion even if the cars had been standing in a private yard and could not be seen by the public, there could still have been a plying for hire if they had been appropriated for immediate hiring. The important thing here is the reference to a private yard and not on view to the public at the time of hiring. Even more important is his reference to an immediate hiring. This is what was happening in Leicester Sq. As you can see the essence of plying for hire is being on view to the public. Is this the position of the PHV or not?


We now come forward in time to 1962 to the case of Rose V  Welbeck  Welbeck motors being the first minicabs to hit the streets in London. This was brought to court by a London cab driver, Emanuel Rose. The car was standing in the street at Stratford Broadway obviously waiting to be hired. The police were summoned to the scene by Mr. Rose and the upshot was that the driver of the car was summoned to appear in court, for plying for hire.

When the case was heard the magistrates court dismissed the case so an appeal against the decision was entered. The case came before LCJ  Parker in the Queens  Bench division of the High Court. The car had Welbeck motors emblazoned on the side of the vehicle and a telephone number.  It had been argued by counsel for Welbeck motors that the advertising on and the appearance of the car  were incapable of conveying to the public an invitation that the vehicle was for hire. The following is the judgement of LCJ  Parker. 


 It is perfectly true that the inscriptions were advertising Welbeck motors and if you ring Welbeck 4440 you can have one of the vehicles that they hire, known as a minicab.  He went on to say that the inscription was saying more. What it was saying was the following. I am one of those minicabs and I am for hire, I think in that connection that the reference to minicabs is important as it is saying I am one of those vehicles and I am for hire. And referred the case back to the lower court where Welbeck motors were convicted for plying for hire. Again the conviction was due to the fact the vehicle was on view to the public.


Just a few days later the case of Vincent V Newman came before LCJ Parker the circumstances were similar. The vehicle had been stood in Addison Crescent were it was observed by a police officer and was summoned to appear before the Magistrates court, for unlawfully plying for hire. The magistrates dismissed the case and the Met police appealed.

The appeal was upheld and referred  back to the Magistrates, where the driver was convicted. Once again due to the fact that the car was standing in a public place.


I now come to the most recent case which occurred in Eastbourne in 2000. This case came before Lord Justice Pill and Mr. Justice Bell. This was in the Queens Bench division of the High Court. The case had been brought to court by Eastbourne Borough Council against two PHV drivers. They had been found on the rank of the forecourt of Eastbourne station.  And were summoned under sect.37 of the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847 of plying for hire without a licence. The magistrates dismissed the case on the grounds that the forecourt was not a public place.  Lord Justice Pill quoted the case of White V Cubitt  where a vehicle parked in a private yard was plying for hire, as it could be seen from the street. He went on to say applying the principle in White V Cubbit since a vehicle parked in the station forecourt was likely to attract custom from members of the public using the adjoining street, the defendants were plying for hire. Again we have the situation of being on view to the public.


This now brings me to the situation  in Leicester square where the theatre ticket booking office has been licensed as a Licensed PHV Operator centre. Not only has it been licensed it advertises the following by a revolving neon sign, the following message.  Need a safe journey home fully licensed private hire minicab service available here. 

That in itself is unlawful as it is soliciting business and is tantamount to touting, under sect 167 of the Criminal Justice and Public order Act 1994.  The cars are parked up like a taxi rank in Whitcomb street and are waiting to be hired, and are on full view to the public.  A person goes to the booking office hires a car and is taken by a marshal to the waiting car. This is a repeat of Gilbert V McKay 1946 which was judged by LCJ Goddard to be plying for hire.  


Now Westminster City councils director of transportation Martin Low states this is not plying for hire. Well I have news for Mr. Low he is 100% wrong.  For his enlightenment and for the PCO I will tell you why.  Sect 35 of the London hackney carriage act of 1831 states the following.  Every hackney carriage which shall be found  standing in any street or place, unless actually hired, shall be deemed to be plying for hire, this is what the cars were doing in Whitcomb St.  The powers that be would of course argue that the cars are not hackney carriages. Well the 1907  London Cab and Stage Carriage Act sect. (6) is laid out like this.


It Is hereby declared that for the purposes of any Act relating to hackney carriages, stage carriages, metropolitan stage carriages, or cabs,  in London, the expressions “ hackney carriage,”   “stage carriage”  “metropolitan stage carriage,”  “or Cab,” shall include any such vehicle, whether drawn or propelled by animal or mechanical power.
As you will have observed a hackney carriage is a vehicle that is not necessarily a taxi, although a  taxi is a form of hackney carriage.   What this means is that any vehicle that carries passengers is a  hackney carriage. 

As you all know a hackney carriage to be able to carry passengers for hire, has to be licensed under sect 6 of the Metropolitan  Public Carriage Act 1869. The offence that was being perpetrated here is that we had a situation where unlicensed hackney carriages were plying for hire.  The cars in Whitcomb St may have had a PHV licence,  however, they were  in fact unlicensed hackney carriages.  Therefore as the vehicles were unlicensed all persons who entered one of these cars were a passenger in an uninsured vehicle. And this with the approval of the police and TFL/ PCO.  


Sect  4 of the 1831 Act states that  every  carriage with two or more wheels which shall be used for the purpose of  standing or plying  for hire in any street road or public street  or road at any place within 5 miles now 12, from  the  General  Post Office  in the City of London,  whatever  may be the form or construction of such carriage,  or the number of persons which it shall be calculated to convey, shall be  deemed and taken to be a “  Hackney  Carriage” within the meaning of this act.

It seems quite obvious that a pedicab is a form of hackney carriage as it  has 3  wheels, and is propelled by mechanical power, that being the pedals.   Further as  they wait to be hired they  are plying for hire. The Pedicab comes within the scope and definition  of a hackney carriage. Any hackney carriage that takes passengers for hire has to comply with the Metropolitan Conditions of fitness (MCF)  This is covered by the  1934  London Cab Order, Statutory Instrument 1634. Therefore as Pedicabs  do not comply with the MCF  they cannot wait to be hired.  As I have said earlier the essence of plying for hire is being on view to the public at the time of hiring.
Further as has been stated in many cases if the vehicle is waiting to be hired, it is plying for hire.


So as you will observe the brain dead at TFL/ T&PH  do not know what they are doing, or do they?  For hear we have a group of people who do not  know the laws that they are charged with enforcing. The phrase, “Not  Fit  For Purpose” comes to mind.


MORE COURT CASES
During that same year of 1871 there was another case came before the courts.   This was Allen V Tonbridge.  The case was about a Mr. Tonbridge who owned  a carriage and was allowed to stand on the property of Cannon Street railway  station.  He had permission to do this by the railway company. Tonbridge had  placed his carriage a Brougham on the arrivals platform and waited for the  train to arrive. The sole purpose of this was so that his carriage could be hired,  which it was. However, a Met police inspector Robert Allen saw the carriage  hired and Tonbridge was summoned.  He was convicted of plying for hire in  the magistrates court and consequently appealed against, the conviction. 

The appeal came before what was then known as The Court of Common Pleas.   This was where three Chief Justices sat in Judgement. Counsel for Tonbridge argued that there was no plying for hire as the station was private property.  The senior Chief Justice summed up and delivered this judgement. Mr. Justice Willes said: “The carriage was in the station and was intentionally exposed so as to be hired by any person.  Moreover it was proved that actual application was made to two persons who arrived by train to hire the carriage. And the decision of the Magistrates Court to convict must stand. As you can see the conviction was based on the fact that the carriage was on view to the public at the appropriate time.”

Mr Justice Smith in support agreed with the judgement stating the following.
“I base my judgement on the case in the Queens Bench referring to the case of Clarke and Stanford V Allen.  This was his judgement.  It was held that if a person exposes his carriage where every body passing by may be willing to hire it, that is plying for hire.”

I now come to the case of White V Cubitt 1929 LCJ Hewart presiding in the Kings Bench Division of the High Court.  This little escapade occurred in the private yard at the side of The Railway Tavern public house at the junction of, Rocks lane and Upper Richmond Road. The owner of the vehicle rented the space in the yard from the publican to carry out his business.  Two ladies walked into the yard from the street and hired the car to go to Richmond Park Golf Club.  The owner of the car a Mr. Charles Cubitt was seen by Sgt White of the Met police accepting the hiring, and Cubitt was summoned to appear in the magistrates Court, where he was convicted.  He appealed against the conviction and the case came before the High Court.

The argument put forward by his defence counsel was that he did not ply for hire in a public place as, the yard was private property. Counsel further laboured the point that the public did not have access to the yard. However the Lord Chief Justice stated the following facts. Although the car was on private property and the public did not have access to the yard, the vehicle was plying for hire. Again his comments in summing up are very interesting for the following reasons.

The Lord Chief Justice made the following Statement.  “The car may have been on private property but it had been placed in such a way in the yard and with the gates to the yard wide open, it was on full view to the public”. And the conviction in the lower court was upheld. Again I have to say this puts PHVs in a position of breaking the laws of plying for hire. This for the simple fact they are on view to the public at all material times.

Let us now come forward a few years to 1946 this is the case of Gilbert V McKay.
McKay had an office in Rupert St. with a sign over the shop window showing that cars were for hire.  Several cars belonging to McKay were standing in the street outside of the office.
Several people were seen to enter the office for the purpose of paying for the hire of anyone of the cars, in which they were driven away.  McKay was charged with being the owner of unlicensed hackney carriages.  He was convicted and fined by the Magistrates court and lodged an appeal, the appeal was dismissed. 

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Goddard had the following to say. “In my opinion even if the cars had been standing in a private yard and could not be seen by the public, there could still have been a plying for hire if they had been appropriated
for immediate hiring”.  The important thing here is the reference to a private yard and not on view to the public at the time of hiring. Even more important is his reference to an immediate hiring.  

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