Leila Ghahhary Successfully Acts for Local Authority in Novel Taxi Licensing Legal Argument

Miss Ghahhary was instructed to act on behalf of Manchester City Council. The case involved the prosecution of a private hire driver who had carried out a cross border journey into Manchester. On spotting the out of area vehicle, Manchester licensing officers made a request under s73 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to see the driver’s badge and, for information about the driver. The driver refused to comply with the request and was subsequently charged with an offence of obstructing an authorised officer under s73(1)(c) of the Act.

The facts were agreed however, the case was defended on the following grounds i) the authorised officer had no power pursuant to s73 to request the badge or the information, ii) an exemption under s75 of the Act meant that no aspect of Part II of the Act applied, iii) the Defendant believed that the officer had no jurisdiction to make a request under s73 for the badge and information and therefore he had reasonable cause to refuse to provide it and, iv) the application of s73 in the way contended for by the Prosecution amounted to a breach of the Defendant’s Article 8 rights.

The legal points to be decided were completely novel there being no binding authority on these issues. The consequence of the Defendant succeeding would be an inability of Local Authority Officers to enforce s46 of the Act – in practical terms; the inability to prevent unlicensed private hire drivers from operating in the area of Manchester, indeed across the country. For these reasons the case was listed for legal argument.

The matter was heard before a District Judge at Manchester City Magistrates’ Court who rejected all limbs of the Defendant’s case. The position as determined by the court, is that, an Authorised Officer seeking to perform his/her criminal enforcement functions under the Act, may request to see a driver’s badge or other information from the driver of a private hire vehicle, in order to ensure that the driver is in fact licensed to drive the vehicle and is not committing an offence under s46 of the Act.

See more: thttp://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/15993042.Private_hire_driver_ordered_to_pay___3_000_after_refusing_to_show_badge_at_Manchester_Airport/