To be licensed by Transport for London you must be of good character. Good character is another way of saying what legislation refers to as “fit and proper”.
The requirement to be of “good character” is underpinned by legislation. For private hire (taxis cab) drivers, the relevant primary legislation is the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, and for taxi (hackney carriage) drivers it is the London Hackney Carriages Act 1843
Broadly speaking, good character (or fit and proper) is determined by consideration of the applicant’s convictions as well as his medical fitness. Applicants and licensees are under a duty to report to TfL details of any convictions, cautions, charges or summonses before any Court. There is also a duty to report any medical fitness issues that will impact on public safety and protection.
Fit and Proper
Whilst decisions by TfL are made in accordance with its own policies and procedures, these are subject to the Department for Transport’s statutory guidance.
Prior to the DfT guidance, there was no formal definition of “fit and proper”. In the DfT guidance however, “fit and proper” is defined as:
Without any prejudice, and based on the information before you, would you allow a person for whom you care, regardless of their condition, to travel alone in a vehicle driven by this person at any time of day or night?
Whether you are fit and proper to hold a will be judged by the standard set above. The DfT guidance goes on to say that applicants or licensees should not be ‘given the benefit of doubt’. This, in practice, means that if, on the balance of probabilities, the answer to the question is ‘no’, you are unlikely to be granted a licence (or licence revoked for licensees).
It is worth noting that the evidential threshold is on the balance of probabilities. This means weighing up the evidence and deciding which version is most probably true. The DfT guidance states that if TfL is only “50/50” as to whether the applicant or licensee is ‘fit and proper’, they should not hold a licence.
Refuse, Revoke or Suspend
TfL may refuse to grant a private hire driver’s licence if the applicant fails to satisfy TfL that they are of good character and is fit to act as a licensed driver. A private hire driver’s licence may also be suspended or revoked by TfL if the licensee is no longer satisfied that the licence holder is fit to hold a licence.
The same powers exist in relation to taxi drivers and applicants.
Right of Appeal
Decisions by TfL to refuse, suspend or revoke licences are appealable. Through many successful appeals of TfL decisions, it is a clear that there is value in appealing a decision by TfL to refuse, suspend or revoke a licence.