In Barrow, the trade have reportedly been told that three year driver licences are the norm even if special circumstances apply such drivers approaching retirement. 

What is the law on this and does special circumstances make a difference?

Deregulation Act 2015

In 2015, the Deregulation Act amended the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to introduce three years drivers licences:

 Section 53 Drivers’ licences for hackney carriages and private hire vehicles:

 (1)(a) Subject to section 53A, every licence granted by a district council under the provisions of this Part of this Act to any person to drive a private hire vehicle shall remain in force for three years from the date of such licence… 

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of the Public Health Act 1875 and the Town Police Clauses Act 1889, but subject to section 53A, every licence granted by a district council under the provisions of the Act of 1847 to any person to drive a hackney carriage shall remain in force for three years… 

However, the same sections in the 1975 Act goes on to state or “for such lesser period, specified in the licence, as the district council think appropriate in the circumstances of the case.” 

Since the Deregulation Act came into force, most licensing authorities have taken a very black and white approach to the length of driver’s licences.  This is wrong as the legislation clearly provides licensing authorities with discretion to issue shorter licences “as the district council think appropriate in the circumstances of the case.” 

Barrow Council can therefore adopt a policy of issuing shorter licences in special circumstances where, for example, drivers are approaching retirement.  

Once matter to consider is the level of licence fee.  Clearly a shorter licence should demand a lesser fee and the lesser fees should be properly adopted or the decision to discount a fee properly delegated.

Stephen McCaffrey

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

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