Under section 65 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976:

“A district council may fix the rates or fares within the district as well for time as distance, and all other charges in connection with the hire of a vehicle or with the arrangements for the hire of a vehicle, to be paid in respect of the hire of hackney carriages by means of a table (hereafter in this section referred to as a “table of fares”) made or varied in accordance with the provisions of this section.”

Whilst the power to set fares is discretionary, most licensing authorities do.  If you are licensed by a licensing authority that does regulate fares, there are a number of statutory rules that you must comply with.  These duties are outlined in model byelaws set by the Department for Transport (DfT).  They include:

  1. If your taxi is fitted with a taximeter, it must be on and used for all journeys (byelaw 5(b)).
  2. Where an agreement has been made in advance to pay a fare lower than that displayed on the taximeter, the licence holder will commit an offence if he demands a fare higher than the agreed amount (s. 54 Town Police Clauses Act 1847).
  3. There is no provision for a hackney carriage driver to charge (or agree a fare) higher than that shown on the taxi meter (s. 55 Town Police Clauses Act 1847) unless the journey starts in the licensing authority’s area, agreement of the higher fare is agreed in advance, and the journey ends outside the licensing authority’s area. (s. 66 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976).

Vehicle proprietors or licensed driver can be prosecuted, fined, face civil claims and, in some cases, be imprisoned for offences of overcharging or not honouring agreements.

Stephen McCaffrey

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

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