The Parking Adjudicator has handed down a ruling in an interesting case involving licensed vehicles and the use of bus lanes. 

In this case, a hackney carriage (taxi) licence holders was initially issued with a fixed penalty notice for driving in a bus lane. 

Kirklees Council upheld the fixed penalty notice on appeal stating that whilst licensed hackney carriages are permitted to use the bus lane, the licensed vehicle in question was not being used to carry passengers at the time and did not display its roof sign. 

Mr Naim who was issued the fixed penalty notice, took the decision to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. 

The Parking Adjudicator is reported to have ruled: “The fact that Mr Naim has not provided evidence he was carrying a passenger at the time is … irrelevant. The question in this appeal then is whether a potential breach of the licence conditions by failing to display a roof top sign means that the vehicle is no longer a licensed hackney carriage. The answer to that question is no and the vehicle remains at all times a hackney carriage. 



I conclude that regardless of whether the roof top sign was present or not, the vehicle was in law a licensed hackney carriage at the time it used the bus gate and no contravention occurred on either occasion.

Legal comment

 It is a long held and well-established legal principle that once a vehicle is licensed, the legal status of that vehicle will always be that of a licensed vehicle.  It is irrelevant therefore whether a licensed vehicle is being used to carry passengers, used for personal business or displays signs that it is licensed.  

The legal principle is usually tested in the context of illegal plying for hire.  This case is a rare example of how this legal principle also applies in other circumstances.  This case confirms that once a traffic order permits a licensed vehicle to use, in this case,  a bus lane, it does not matter for what purpose that vehicle is used or whether that vehicle is displaying any licensing livery such top lights.

Stephen McCaffrey

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

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