We have had a number of enquiries from Transport for London (TfL) private hire drivers whose licences have been revoked following the qualifications scam exposed by the BBC.

In response, TfL has issued a blanket revocation of any private hire driver licence where the driver has had a qualification from any college caught up in the scam.  Is TfL’s decision proportionate and lawful?

Background

In November, the BBC reported that “Hundreds of London minicabs could be ‘working illegally’”.  This related to a BBC undercover investigation that found “hundreds” of London minicab who allegedly and fraudulently bought qualifications for the purpose of obtaining a licence from TfL.

It is a TfL requirement that all applicants take a topographical exam and an English test at an approved testing station.  Applicants however have the option to submit documents to TfL to show they can satisfy the TfL standard through a different route such as a BTEC which is obtainable through private colleges.

The issue arose when some of these private colleges offered to take assessment on behalf of students for a fee.

TfL’s response

TfL told the BBC that it would immediately investigate at least 1,667 applications in light of the evidence.

TfL recently said it had revoked all licences gained from colleges where cheating occurred.

Is TfL’s decision proportionate and lawful?

The first thing to say is that it is ultimately for a court of law to decide what is, and is not, lawful and that will be the case here too.  Unless a judicial review is brought to challenge the decision to issue a blanket revocation, it will come down to individual appeal cases.

It is a fundamental principle of UK law however that everybody must have a fair hearing.  This means that each case should be determined on its individual merits.  To this extent there are strong arguments in favour of TfL’s blanket decision being potentially unlawful.

For example, it may very well be that only a small proportion of drivers actually paid for their qualification and that others obtained it legitimately.  In these circumstances, TfL’s decision would be wrong.  This is only one example of relevant matters that should have been taken into account.

The fact that it has not may be indicative of TfL’s failure and/or unwillingness to properly discharge its regulatory and legal functions.  Due to the numbers involved, it may be that TfL has taken the view that it may be less costly to deal with individual appeal cases.

Have you been affected?

If your TfL private hire driver’s licence has been revoked or application refused as a result of this and you believe that this decision was wrong, contact us today for a free no obligation case assessment.

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Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence.

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