Nicholas Dobson

Hackney cabs are an iconic a part of the cultural material of London. Sherlock Holmes and Watson had been common customers, and cabs even seem in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, the place, at ‘the violet hour’, ‘the human engine waits/Like a taxi throbbing ready’. However, Transport for London (TfL) in its Might 2020 Streetspace Plan and Steerage, determined to not exempt hackney carriages (taxis) in its proposals to cut back site visitors on residential streets and create low-traffic neighbourhoods throughout London. Taxis had been due to this fact to be ‘suppressed’ as a part of ‘normal site visitors’. This could have an effect on the appropriate of taxis to ply for rent throughout London and to make use of bus lanes. Though the momentary schemes had been to be reviewed by TfL, they ‘might turn into everlasting’.

The claimants (commerce our bodies defending and representing hackney carriage pursuits) consequently introduced judicial overview proceedings in opposition to TfL and the mayor of London in United Commerce Motion Group Restricted and one other v Transport for London and Mayor of London [2021] EWHC 72. On 20 January 2021 Mrs Justice Lang gave an 82-page judgment considerably in favour of the claimants. In the midst of a painstaking cab trip by means of the tower blocks and leafy lanes of public legislation, Lang J gave a worthwhile refresher in key rules, together with Wednesbury, Equality Act 2010 duties and bonafide expectation. Native authority governance attorneys will want to think about these rigorously.

The claimants submitted 5 grounds, together with that in making and promulgating the Plan and Steerage the mayor and TfL:

1. Didn’t have regard to related concerns, together with the distinct standing of taxis as a type of public transport, mirrored in each legislation and coverage, and the function performed by taxis in facilitating accessible public transport for these with mobility impairments;

2. Didn’t have correct regard to the general public sector equality obligation in part 149 of the Equality Act 2010;

3. Disproportionately interfered with the property rights of taxi house owners and drivers in breach of Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European Conference on Human Rights;

4. Breached the claimants’ reliable expectation to make use of London roads and bus lanes;

5. Acted irrationally.

The claimants succeeded on all however floor Three in respect of the Plan and Steerage. Floor Three failed as a result of the claimants had not filed proof a few downturn in prospects and earnings ensuing particularly from the restrictions and due to this fact didn’t set up an interference with peaceable enjoyment of their possessions by management of use.

In contemplating floor 1, Lang J famous (following Lord Greene MR in Related Provincial Image Homes Ltd v Wednesbury Company [1948] 1 KB 223, at 229) the ‘well-established precept of public legislation that “an individual entrusted with a discretion should… direct himself correctly in legislation… should name his personal consideration to the issues which he’s sure to think about… [and]… should exclude from his consideration issues that are irrelevant to what he has to think about”’. The decide stated that ‘traditionally, buses and hackney carriages had been the one autos authorised to ply for rent in London’ and the ‘place stays the identical to today’. Nonetheless, the plan didn’t recognise the ‘long-established standing and function of taxis as a type of public transport, distinct from different automobiles, mirrored each in legislation, and within the insurance policies and mayoral statements’. These ‘concerns had been clearly related, because the proposals would have an effect on the appropriate of taxis to ply for rent throughout London, and to make use of bus lanes’. Within the circumstances, the mayor had acted unlawfully in making the plan and TfL did so in issuing the steering.

As to the breach of part 149 of the Equality Act 2010, the courtroom reviewed the measure and materials case legislation (together with Bracking v Secretary of State [2013] EWCA Civ 1345) and concluded that: ‘Previous to issuing the steering, there was no investigation or consideration of the hostile impacts that limiting street use by taxis might trigger to these with the related protected traits. Subsequently TfL didn’t pay due regard to the equality duties in part 149(1) of the 2010 act.’

Legit expectation (successfully one department of the general public authority obligation to behave pretty) was canvassed in some depth by the courtroom in contemplating whether or not the mayor and TfL had breached the claimants’ reliable expectation to make use of London roads and bus lanes. The start line was Lord Fraser’s discovering in Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service [1985] AC 374 that: ‘Legit… expectation might come up both from an categorical promise given on behalf of a public authority or from the existence of a daily observe which the claimant can moderately count on to proceed.’ And, as Legal guidelines LJ remarked in Nadarajah v Secretary of State for the Dwelling Division [2005] EWCA Civ 1363: ‘The precept that good administration requires public authorities to be held to their guarantees can be undermined if the legislation didn’t insist that any failure or refusal to conform is objectively justified as a proportionate measure within the circumstances.’ Within the circumstances, Lang J discovered that: ‘The insurance policies within the Plan and the Steerage, which deal with taxis in the identical means as normal site visitors which is to be “suppressed”, and excluded from sure routes which can solely stay open to buses, cycles and pedestrians, has led to a transparent breach of the taxi drivers’ reliable expectation in regard to using bus lanes.’ There was additionally no proof ‘overriding public curiosity which justified the frustration of the taxi drivers’ reliable expectation’.  

Lastly, on floor 5, Lang J concluded that the decision-making processes had been ‘significantly flawed, and the choices weren’t a rational response to the problems’ arising from Covid-19. However whereas Holmes and Watson shall be happy on the end result, TfL is looking for to enchantment.


Nicholas Dobson writes on native authority legislation and governance