We often encounter cases where licensed drivers are facing questions and criminal investigations after passengers made allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the taxi or private hire driver. Often, allegations turn out to be malicious as a result of a fare dispute or other disagreement between the taxi or private hire driver and their passenger(s).
Malicious allegations can be difficult for a licensed driver to manage and there is a lot to consider. More often than not, allegations of sexual misconduct by a licensed taxi/private hire driver will result in a suspension, or in worst case scenario, a revocation whist an investigation are ongoing.
Of course a licensed taxi/private hire drivers should be able to apply for a reinstatement of the licence if they are found not guilty by a court of law.
The position of reinstatement of a taxi or private hire licence is less straightforward in cases where a taxi/private hire driver has been notified that the police will be taking no further action in relation to an allegation. We often encounter cases where the police have abandoned investigations due to lack of evidence but where licensing authorities have subsequently gone on to revoke a licence. Licensed taxi/private hire drivers must remember that there is a difference between the criminal threshold, applied by the police and courts, and the civil threshold relevant to licensing authority decision making. The latter threshold merely needs to satisfy the “balance of probabilities” level and therefore demands a lesser evidential requirement.
In cases therefore where, for example, there is lack of evidence due to uncooperative complainants, the licensing authority can still look at the evidence and found the licensed taxi/private hire driver no longer fit and proper. However, even a licensing authority determining an application based on the civil rules are bound by the general principle of evidenced based decision making. As such a licensing authority is still required to look at all the evidence objectively before refusing or revoking the licence of a taxi/private hire driver. If the police/CPS have taken a view that there is sufficient evidence to take further action, this will clearly be a relevant and material factor for the licensing authority to take into consideration.
A related issue is that of the reputation of a licensed taxi/private hire driver. An allegation can have a significant detrimental impact on the reputation of the driver who is the target of such an allegation. It is therefore important for a taxi/private hire driver to be given the right to respond to allegations both in the context of a criminal investigation and before a licensing committee/panel.
Given what is at stake for any licensed taxi/private hire driver facing a malicious allegation, it is important for any such a driver to be well represented by an expert in both taxi/private hire law and criminal law – such as Taxi Defence Barristers who are also criminal law barristers.