“Uber drivers in South Gloucestershire will not be allowed to display ‘taxi’ on their cars”. What does the law say on PHV signage? 

It is clearly important for the public to understand what type of licensed vehicle they are travelling in.  It is also important for legal purposes that the public understand how they can book or hail a licensed vehicle.  As such, the distinction between a PHV and a hackney carriage (taxi) is important and should be visible. 

Transport Act 1980

 Section 64(1) of the Transport Act states the following:

 (1) There shall not, in any part of England and Wales outside the metropolitan police district and the City of London, be displayed on or above the roof of any vehicle which is used for carrying passengers for hire or reward but which is not a taxi — 

(a) any sign which consists of or includes the word “taxi” or “cab”, whether in the singular or plural, or “hire”, or any word of similar meaning or appearance to any of those words, whether alone or as part of another word; or

(b) any sign, notice, mark, illumination or other feature which may suggest that the vehicle is a taxi.

The law is clear in so far as it relates to signage “on or above the roof of any vehicle” that is not a hackney carriage (taxi).  

However, what about similar signage on PHV roundels or private hire operator’s signage and/or advertising?  For this, there is no primary legislation similar to section 64.  In theory therefore, it is not an offence for a PHV to display “any sign which consists of or includes the word “taxi” or “cab”” (other than on or above the roof) or similarly for private hire operators. 

However, the principle of section 64 should remain the same either way.  Licensing authorities can, adopt licensing policies that, in practice, extends section 64 to also apply generally to private hire licensing.  

There is no known cases or judgement on the use of licensing policy to extend the section 63 power but the legal basis for setting policy is well established.

Stephen McCaffrey

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

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