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Follow us on TwitterFollow us on LinkedinIt is a well-established fact that the taxi and private hire licensing regime exists to protect the public and as such only “fit and proper” people should be given licences.

It is also the case that the majority of taxi and private hire licence holders value their licence and would not unnecessarily jeopardise their licences.  However, it is also the case that taxi and private hire drivers can do long hours on the road and as such there is an increases risk of them committing minor traffic offences.

‘Totting up’ – 12 or more points accrued within a three-year period – will result in a 6 month driving ban unless the court decides to exercise its discretion not to impose the ban on the grounds of exceptional hardship.

We are often asked by taxi and private hire licence holders whether “exceptional hardship” is a valid argument to advance in cases where they are facing a disqualification for totting up.

Before we look at the substantive issue of exceptional hardship relating to taxi or private hire drivers, bear in mind that in all cases the court will be aware that a ban will inevitably cause hardship to anyone who is subject to such a ban (causing hardship is after all the point of the punishment) and in addition the court must be persuaded that the hardship will be exceptional.

There is not a substantial body of case law on the relevance of exceptional hardship in cases involving taxi and private hire drivers.  The two High Court cases that have in the past dealt with the question of the relevance of advancing an argument of exceptional hardship in relation to taxi and private hire have both stated that exceptional hardship is not a relevant factor.

In both cases, the High Court judges took a view that the overriding consideration is public safety and protection and the relevant criteria is whether licence holders were fit and proper people in light of the overriding consideration.  As I previously mentioned, courts are aware of the fact that a driver’s licence ban will cause hardship and this is the point of such a ban.

Taxi and private hire drivers who are banned from driving will automatically be disqualified from holding a taxi or private hire driver licence.  The consequence is that once the driving ban has expired, the driver will need to start afresh with an application for a taxi or private hire driving licence.  Most local authorities will take the previous driving ban in to account when determine a new application and it is likely that they will not grant a licence to someone who have just had their driving licence reinstated.

The fact that there is some legal authority dismissing the “exceptional hardship” argument in relation to taxi and private hire licences does by no means mean it is not worth an argument to advance.

Arguments relating to exceptional hardship are almost always determined on its individual merits and there may be individual circumstances relating to a taxi or private hire licence that can be advanced in favour of the court to exercise its discretion not to impose the ban.

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