08 Feb Private Hire Group Wins Judicial Review Over TfL’s Price Hikes
A judge has ruled that the operator fee increased imposed by Transport for London can go to a judicial review.
The Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) took TfL to the High Court in London after changes in the prices of licenses meant that operators with over 11 vehicles were facing increased costs between £3,174 and £2,897,174 for a 5-year licence, which had previously cost just £2,826.
The changes by TfL were introduced in October 2017 after an eight week consultation with industry sources claiming this was seen as a way to increase revenue from controversial hailing service Uber.
The purpose of the hearing, which started on Tuesday in the Royal Courts of Justice, was to challenge the Operator fee increases due to ‘sufficiency of information relating to the consultation’, a decision which was granted by Mr Justice Dingemans.
Judicial Reviews are where a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
In a statement by the LPHCA they stated the ‘improper purpose’ grounds for the review was
The ‘improper purpose’ ground was TfL using operator fees for other areas of licensing not associated with operator licensing & compliance and the ‘sufficiency of information relating to the consultation’ ground was the fact that we stated to TfL that we needed figures from them to understand the rationality of the fee increases, which were not provided, so consultees could not make a rational decision.
“(We) are very pleased that there were grounds for a judicial review hearing to be undertaken as TfL’s own figures obtained via a freedom of information act request, showed operators were going out of business since the introduction of new fees, something TfL had accepted would happen,” they said.
“The LPHCA’s application for ‘interim relief’ to try and stop the fee increases immediately was not granted, although the Judge accepted that there was a matter of urgency for early Judicial Review. The hearing was therefore scheduled for Wednesday 25th April 2018 in the High Court., which was readily agreed to by the LPHCA and TfL.”
Fareed Baloch of zoom.taxi which provides technology to help companies compete with Uber by offering pay-per-ride cloud based technology welcomed the decision, saying companies had been forced out of business by the price increases.
“We welcome the news that the industry can challenge the legality pf the price rises by Transport for London. The last few years have been difficult for the industry with the launch of Uber which has used loopholes to avoid the same rules which existing firms have to abide by. To increase fixed costs for struggling companies is bad for the industry and bad for consumers as demonstrated by the 50 companies which have gone out of business because of the price hikes. We want licensing authorities to be vigilant and thorough with their license processes but this does not require many thousands of pounds more in fees.”
The organisation set up a ‘fighting fund’ to challenge TfL’s decision and over 50 LPHCA Members, Operators and Industry Suppliers donated to help challenge the fees and once again the fundraising which has raised more than £150,000.
The target for phase two sits at £150,000. The LPHCA have also launched an Emergency Meeting, which is free-to-attend for Private Hire Operators and Industry Suppliers. If you wish to attend the meeting, pre-registration is required at www.lphca.co.uk.