Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles

Introduction

The Council's Licensing Committee will use this procedure when considering whether to grant, renew, suspend or revoke a hackney carriage/private hire vehicle driver's or operator's licence and hackney carriage or private hire vehicle licence.

It should be noted that:

i)  the Committee may refuse to consider any documentation not provided, or witnesses not identified, to the Council at least 14 days in advance of the hearing;

ii)  the Council will endeavour to ensure that the applicant/licence holder receives a copy of the licensing officer's report outlining the facts of the case and other relevant information at least ten working days prior to the hearing;

iii)  the hearing is open to the public; the Committee may, however, exclude the public if confidential or exempt information is being disclosed;

iv)  the Committee will comprise a minimum of three and maximum of five elected Members.  They will be assisted by a Legal Officer and a Democratic Services Officer, neither of whom have any decision making powers;; 

v)  the Committee will appoint a Chair from amongst their number;

vi)  only Members who have received appropriate training will be eligible to serve on the Licensing Committee; and

vii)  applicant and objectors may appoint representatives to present their cases.

1  Order of Proceedings

At the start of the hearing the Chair will:

a)  introduce members of the Licensing Committee; 

b)  clarify who is present and the nature of their involvement; and 

c)  ensure that those present are familiar with the procedure to be followed. 

1.1  The procedure at the meeting will, in general, be similar to that in a Court of Law.  Although the strict rules of evidence will not apply, they will be observed to a great extent because this is the best way of hearing evidence from all parties.  Members may seek clarification of any procedural, technical or legal matter from officers at any time during the proceedings.

1.2  The procedure is as follows:

a)  The Licensing Officer’s report will have been circulated to members of the Licensing Committee in advance of the meeting.  It will outline important aspects of the application/case; the officer(s) may give any relevant additional background information.  This report will be read to the Committee where requested by the Chair.  The officer(s) can then be questioned by the applicant/licence holder or his/her representative and by the Committee on matters relating to their professional expertise and/or matters referred to in the report.

b)  Any Council Officer, complainant, etc. will then be required to present their evidence; this should normally take no longer than twenty minutes.

c)  The Council Officer, complainant etc. may be questioned by the applicant/licence holder or his/her representative.  They may then be questioned by the Licensing Committee.

d)  The Chair will then invite the applicant/licence holder or his/her representative to present their case and call evidence and/or witnesses in support; this should normally take no longer than 20 minutes.

e)  The person(s) presenting the applicant/licence holder's case and their witnesses may be questioned by the Licensing Committee.

f)  The applicant/licence holder or his/her representative may ask further questions of their witnesses to clear up any points raised in earlier questioning.

g)  When the applicant/licence holder or his/her representative has presented their case, the Chair will ask any officer present if they wish to make any comments.  Such comments must be limited to commenting on matters raised by the applicant/licence holder either in their opening statement or the evidence called in support of the application.  This should not normally take more than five minutes.  The applicant/licence holder or his/her representative will then be given the opportunity to ask the officers questions on the comments made.

h)  The applicant/licence holder or his/her representative may then make a closing statement.  This should not normally take more that five minutes.

2  Presenting the Evidence

2.1  Each person giving evidence may be questioned by the opposing party or parties and by the Licensing Committee.  A person may decline to be questioned, but less importance would then be attached to his or her evidence.

2.2  When a person gives evidence:

a)  They are first asked to give their full name and, where required, their address. 

b)  They either make a verbal statement or, if appropriate, are questioned by the person calling them. 

c)  They may be questioned by the other party or parties or their representative. 

d)  Throughout the presentation of the respective cases, questions may be put by the Licensing Committee.  Such questions will normally be put immediately following the questions by the opposing party or parties.

e)  Witnesses may then be questioned further (if appropriate) by the person who called them.  These questions must be limited to matters that have already arisen in previous questioning.  This is solely an opportunity to ask questions and not a time to make statements.  No new matters may be raised at this stage.  The purpose of these questions is to enable the advocate to clear up any misunderstandings which may have arisen as a result of the previous questions only.

f)  The Licensing Committee will not take into account evidence which it considers to be irrelevant to the decision to be reached.  Similarly, it will not consider any representation from persons not prepared to have their identity revealed.

2.3  The applicant/licence holder shall attend in person.  In certain circumstances the Committee may proceed in the absence of the applicant/licence holder.

3  Documentaty Evidence

3.1  Documentary evidence upon which it is intended to rely should be submitted to the Head of Environmental and Consumer Services not less than fourteen working days before the date of the hearing so that it may be included with the report to be submitted to the Licensing Committee.  If documents are not easy to photocopy on an A4 machine (e.g. photographs) then normally ten copies of each document must be supplied.

3.2  Where one of the parties wishes at the hearing to submit a document or raise any matter not referred to in the papers previously circulated, the following procedure will be followed:

a)  The party concerned should explain why the document concerned was not submitted in advance. 

b)  If the Licensing Committee accepts the explanation it shall be established whether the opposing party or parties (or their representative) have already seen the document and whether they have any objection to its submission. 

c)  In the case of papers not previously submitted, the Chair will request that it first be passed to the other party or parties (or to their representative) so that they can decide whether they object to it being submitted to the Licensing Committee and, if so, their grounds for objection.

Note:   For this purpose it may be necessary to allow time to study the document.

d)  If there is an objection to the submission of this evidence, each of the parties may give their reasons for or against the proposed submission to the Licensing Committee.

Note:   A party wishing to produce a video, model and so forth should give notice in advance of the hearing to the Head of Environmental and Consumer Services.

3.3  If there has been no objection to the submission of a document, or if the Licensing Committee has ruled that it may be submitted, the document will, if requested by the Chair, be read aloud by the party submitting it or by his or her representative.  If the document is a letter or written statement by someone who is not present and its submission has been opposed by one of the parties, the Chair (if the Committee has ruled that it should be admitted) will indicate that the weight (importance) of evidence that the Licensing Committee will attach to the document will take account of the fact that the signatory to the letter or the maker of the statement is not present to be questioned.

Note:  At least ten copies should be provided of any document that is to be submitted at the hearing.

3.4  An adjournment of the hearing may have to be permitted in order to allow time to consider the new material and respond.  In consideration of the extra costs likely to be  incurred by all parties occasioned by an adjournment, any application must demonstrate exceptional grounds before it is granted.

4  Decision

4.1  At the end of a hearing the Chair will invite the Licensing Committee to move into private session to enable the Committee to deliberate in private.  The Licensing Committee will only reconvene to resolve any points of uncertainty on the evidence already given.  During their deliberation the Committee will normally be accompanied by the Legal Officer and Democratic Services Officer, but the decision shall be arrived at by the Licensing Committee only.  The Licensing Committee may retire to a private room, or alternatively require vacation of the meeting room by all other persons.

Notes:

i)  Any officer retiring with the Licensing Committee must be completely impartial and will not take any part in the decision.

ii)  The Licensing Committee has a general power to retire during the proceedings and deliberate in private on any aspects or issues of the case it is hearing.

iii)  If the Licensing Committee requires clarification or further information then all parties must be invited to return.

4.2  Notification of a Decision

When the Licensing Committee resumes, the Chair will normally announce the decision and the reasons for the decision.  This decision will then be confirmed in writing by the Head of Environmental and Consumer  Services to the parties concerned as soon as possible after the hearing.

5  Procedure Variation

5.1  In order to ensure that both applicant and Objectors receive a fair hearing, the above may be waived, altered or modified by the Licensing Committee.

6  Additional Notes 

a)  The Committee will take due account of witnesses' varying levels of knowledge of legal and technical matters arising. 

b)  Persons addressing the Committee will not be expected to stand or take the oath. 

c)  At convenient points in the proceedings and at no less a frequency than every two hours, the Chair will adjourn the meeting for a comfort break.

d)  The Chair may also adjourn the meeting at the request of the Legal Officer. 

e)  The minimum adjournment period for lunch will be thirty minutes. 

f)  The Chair may permit robust questioning, but not permit this to extend to bullying. 

g)  The home address of any complainant will not be revealed without the consent of the complainant.

h)  The applicant/licence holder or his/her representative is not obliged to present a case and will not be prejudiced if such a choice is made.

i)  The Committee has a discretion to make a "site visit" should it consider it necessary to the decision making process. 

j)  The Committee will consider, if relevant, any previous convictions of the applicant/licence holder

k)  If any applicant, witness etc. has any special needs regarding access, hearing or vision, this should be brought to the Council's attention prior to the hearing in order that appropriate provision may be made.

7  Summary Procedure 

  1. Indroduction by chair
  2. Introduction/Update by Report Author
  3. Submission by Council Officer, Complainant etc.
  4. Applicant/Licence Holder's case
  5. Comments by Officers
  6. Closing statement by applicant/licence holder
  7. Committee retire to make decision
  8. Meeting reconvenes to hear decision and reasons

Further Information

For further information relating to taxis please see the main taxi page.

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