Cross-border Hiring and Taxi Apps (1)

MQT on 2019-02-25
Session date: 
February 25, 2019
Question By: 
David Kurten
Brexit Alliance Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Please can you tell me if a London Licenced Taxi Driver can accept pre-booked Radio, Phone or App jobs from an out of London operator in a TFL registered Taxi when physically located in an area outside of London, such as Bishops Stortford or Aylesbury?


Answer for Cross-border Hiring and Taxi Apps (1)
Cross-border Hiring and Taxi Apps (1)

Cross-border Hiring and Taxi Apps (1)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Transport for London (TfL) is the licensing authority and regulator for London taxi and private hire services. Licensing areas outside of London are subject to different legislation and how that legislation applies and what is (or is not) permissible in a given situation is not within TfL’s remit. For advice on what is permissible outside of London, such as in Bishops Stortford or Aylesbury, I encourage individual taxi drivers to speak to the relevant local licensing authority and/or seek their own legal advice. 

I recognise that taxi drivers would welcome clarity in this area, but whether or not a taxi is plying for hire through a Smartphone app for example does depend on how the particular app works and the particular circumstances of individual cases. A High Court judgment on 7 February 2019 (see Appendix A attached) illustrates the complexity of the law in this area and that decisions depend on the particular circumstances of individual cases. However, it did provide a number of criteria that can be considered, including in circumstances where a licensee is engaged via a Smartphone app.

We have called on Government to introduce statutory definitions of “plying for hire” and “pre-booked” so as to achieve more certainty for licensees in such situations.  However, the Government recently decided not to proceed with the relevant recommendation in the DfT commissioned Task and Finish Report.

Our position remains that the introduction of statutory definitions would provide more certainty for licensees, and I would urge the government to reconsider its position.