If your taxi or private hire licence is revoked, refused or suspended, the law allows you to appeal such a decision. Since you are allowed the opportunity to appeal, a decision taken by a licensing authority to take your licence away is not the end of the road.
In most cases, an appeal relating to a taxi or private hire licence decision is made to the Magistrates’ Court and must be lodged within 21 days from the date you are served with a decision notice. The exception is decisions relating to hackney carriage vehicle licences where the appeal is heard by the Crown Court.
When an appeal in relation to a taxi or private hire licence is heard, the appeal hearing is a hearing de novo and civil procedural rules apply.
A hearing de novo means that the appellate court (Magistrates’ or Crown Court) will hear and deal with the appeal afresh or as if the case had not previously been heard nor decided.
In the case of an appeal hearing, the onus will be on the appellant (or in other words the licence holder whose licence has been take away) to satisfy the court that the decision of the licensing authority was wrong.
It is an established common law principal that the appellate court can only over turn the lower decision if that decision was wrong.
How then does an appellate court decide whether a decision of a licensing authority was wrong?
The appellate court will hear the case afresh (de novo) and from this will draw its own conclusions and judgements on the case and its merits. It will then compare its own conclusions and determinations to that of the licensing authority’s, which will form the basis for a decision on whether the licensing authority was wrong (or not). If the appellate court determines that, in its view, the licensing authority’s decision was wrong, it should overturn the decision.
A crucial aspect of the appellate court’s determination will be the reasons given by the licensing authority as this will form the basis of the licensing authority’s defence. Common law has dictated that an appellate court should not lightly overturn a licensing authority’s decision.
Nonetheless, decisions taken by local authorities are significant and weighty and must therefore be taken with care. Where this is not the case, people affected, such as licence holders, must seek legal remedies because livelihoods and reputations can substantially be affected as a consequence of wrong decisions.
Another advantage of a hearing de novo is that it presents another (fresh) opportunity for a licence holder to present their case. It may, for example, be that a licence holder was not represented before a licensing committee hearing or that their representation was poor which may have been a determinative factor in the committee’s decision. A hearing before an appellate court therefore provides a licence holder with a fresh opportunity to rectify this (through proper representation) which may very well be an important factor to have the initial decision overturned.
Due to the fact that decisions taken by licensing authorities are so significant, it is important that affected licence holders seek legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity.
As a chambers that specialise in taxi and private hire licensing law, Taxi Defence Barristers are well known and recognised by the sector as a leading law firm acting for taxi and private hire licence holders.
Taxi Defence Barristers are public access barristers which means licence holder can instruct an expert taxi and private hire barrister directly.
If your taxi or private hire licence has been refused, revoked or suspended, call Taxi Defence Barristers on 020 7060 4773 today for a free, no obligation initial case assessment.