The regulation of hackney carriage fares is a discretionary power “A district council may fix the rates or fares within the district” (s.65 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976).  All council’s do however regulate hackney carriage fares. 

Regulating fares locally places a number of statutory duties on drivers of hackney carriage vehicles.  Here is a brief overview of what is permitted (and what is not).

Charging the fare displayed

The Model Byelaws for Hackney Carriages prescribe (s.14(ii)) states:

“Where a hackney carriage furnished with a taximeter is hired by distance and time the proprietor or driver thereof shall not be entitled to demand and take a fare greater than that recorded on the taximeter, save for any extra charges authorised by the Council which it may not be possible to record on the face of the taximeter.”

Assuming a local council has adopted the Model Byelaws for Hackney Carriages, drivers of a hackney carriage subject to the byelaws are under a statutory duty to not charge more than the fare displayed on the meter.

Charging more than the metered rate

s.65 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976:

“No person, being the driver of a hackney carriage licensed by a district council, and undertaking for any hirer a journey ending outside the district and in respect of which no fare and no rate of fare was agreed before the hiring was effected, shall require for such journey a fare greater than that indicated on the taximeter…”

Section 65 therefore makes provision for the driver of a hackney carriage vehicle to charge more than what is displayed on the meter but this is subject to two very strict conditions:

  1. The journey must end outside the district that licensed the hackney carriage; and
  2. The higher fare must be stated and agreed before the commencement of the journey.

If either one or both of the conditions are not met, the hackney carriage driver is bound by the metered fare.

Charging less than the metred rate

Any driver of a hackney carriage vehicle can at any time charge a rate that is less than the fare displayed on the meter.  This is an implied right.

Note however s.54 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847:

Penalty for demanding more than the sum agreed for though less than the legal fare

If the proprietor or driver of any such hackney carriage, or if any other person on his behalf, agree beforehand with any person hiring such hackney carriage to take for any job a sum less than the fare allowed by this or the special Act, or any bye-law made thereunder, such proprietor or driver shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding level 1 on the standard scaleif he exact or demand for such job more than the fare so agreed upon.”

S.54 therefore places an obligation on a driver of a hackney carriage to honour a lower fare where such a fare was agreed.

Extra charges

The driver of a hackney carriage can charge for additional extras of the type that is specified on the individual fare card.  These extra charges normally include a soiling charge, baggage and pushchairs.

This is permitted by virtue of s.14(ii) of the Model Byelaws for Hackney Carriages:

“Where a hackney carriage furnished with a taximeter is hired by distance and time the proprietor or driver thereof shall not be entitled to demand and take a fare greater than that recorded on the taximeter, save for any extra charges authorised by the Council which it may not be possible to record on the face of the taximeter.”

Taxi meters in PHVs

S.71 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976:

“Nothing in this Act shall require any private hire vehicle to be equipped with any form of taximeter but no private hire vehicle so equipped shall be used for hire in a controlled district unless such taximeter has been tested and approved by or on behalf of the district council for the district or any other district council by which a vehicle licence in force for the vehicle was issued.”

Private Hire fares are not regulated but where a PHV is fitted with a meter, s.71 requires that such a meter be tested and approved by the local council who issued the licence.

Card payment surcharges

Drivers of hackney carriages cannot add surcharges for customers who pay using debit or credit cards.  Card payment surcharges were made unlawful by virtue of the EU Payment Services Directive.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory Barrister and Head of Taxi Defence Barristers.

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