Fit and Proper Person Test

The ‘Fit and Proper Person Test’ is part of the process of safeguarding the public. The Local Government Association issue guidance on taxi and PHV licensing. In their introduction they set out their remit, stating that the vulnerability of children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups mean that drivers must command the highest level of confidence before they can be entrusted with the responsibility of being a taxi driver.
They state that ‘It is essential that we take seriously our responsibility to determine whether someone is a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold a licence’.
The Local Government Association publish advice on the application of the ‘Fit and Proper Person Test’ in their online resource, Taxi and PHV Licensing – Councillors’ Handbook (England and Wales)
Fit and Proper Person Test

Properly applying the fit and proper person test is essential for ensuring a robust licensing scheme that protects safety and commands the confidence of the general public.’

The ‘fit and proper’ person test

The fit an proper person test when applied to taxi licensing policies places passengers at the centre of their policies and processes. Their criteria for granting taxi or PHV driver licenses are stringent and make it clear what powers the licensing authority have when in comes to refusing or revoking a taxi licence.
A licensing authority must not grant a taxi or PHV driver’s licence unless it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence. This is very different to the Licensing Act 2003 or Gambling Act 2005, where the presumption is to permit a licence application.

  • A licensing authority is also entitled to suspend or revoke a taxi or PHV driver’s licence if there is evidence to suggest that the individual is not a fit and proper person, and specifically if he has been convicted since the grant of the licence of an offence involving dishonesty, violence or indecency
  • for non-compliance with the licensing requirements of [the 1847 Act or the 1976 Act] and related legislation, or
  • for any other reasonable cause.

Certain standard procedures occur when an application for a license take place:

‘On receiving an application, councils should first make use of the Home Office’s free service to check the applicant’s right to work. This ensures that applications are not heard where the applicant has no legal right to work in the UK.
Once this is established, an inquiry into an applicant’s fitness to be licensed is likely to include enquiries into his health, local knowledge and understanding of the responsibilities of a licensed driver. However, character is usually investigated first.
Most councils have adopted a formal statement of policy about relevant convictions and how this will determine whether an applicant is fit and proper. While each application must be determined on its individual merits, the statement may set out a recommended minimum period free of conviction for offences falling into broad categories to act as a guideline to licensing committees.’
‘Properly applying the fit and proper person test is essential for ensuring a robust licensing scheme that protects safety and commands the confidence of the general public.’ Of course, this is potentially a sticking point from a legal perspective. As a taxi driver what happens if the ‘fit and proper person test’ has not been properly applied and you unjustly face the potential for license revocation or a refusal to renew.

For Taxi drivers, and particularly in London, taxi licences take a tremendous effort to qualify for. Decisions of TfL (Transport for London) and the PCO (Public Carriage Office) to refuse to renew licenses, whether it be on the basis of criminal convictions, a failure to notify or questions of medical fitness can lead to the loss of livelihood for taxi drivers. Due to the complexities of taxi related legislation, it is extremely important that taxi drivers seek professional help in such circumstances.

We are here to help!

Taxi Driver Defence Barristers are an expert team who specialise in the mounting of a taxi licence refused appeal or taxi licence revoked appeal. Our taxi barristers have had significant success in overturning the decisions of TfL and the PCO. Our barristers don’t underestimate importance of guiding clients through the complexities of the legal process. We make sure our clients understand at each stage what is happening and why.
Please contact us to discuss your taxi license refusal or revocation.