Chapter 6 - TAXI FARES
6.1. Local licensing authorities have a duty under section 17 of the 1982 Act to fix the scales for fares and all other charges in connection with the hire of taxis in their area and have a duty to review the resultant fare scales within 18 months of the scales coming into effect.
6.2. In the conduct of a tariff review, authorities are advised as best practice to pay particular regard to advice contained in paragraphs 2.34 - 2.37 of Scottish Development Department Circular 25/1986. The Circular advises on the frequency of reviews, need for consultation, relevant considerations and the right of appeal.
6.3. Authorities should be aware of legislative changes that have been introduced by Section 174 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. The following are the main changes that affect sections 17 and 18 of the 1982 Act with regard to taxi fares' appeals and procedures although they do not cover all amendments:
- Section 17 has been amended to clarify 'the licensing authority must fix scales for the fares and other charges… within 18 months, beginning with the date on which the scales came into effect'. The period of time a licensing authority has to give notice of a new fare scale is extended to 7 days after the scales are fixed.
- Section 18 has been amended to allow representative bodies (as well as individual taxi operators) to appeal to the Traffic Commissioner against fare scales.
6.4. Authorities will also wish to be aware of advice contained in paragraphs 2.38 - 2.42 of Circular 25/1986 and the procedural rules set out in 'The Licensing and Regulation of Taxis (Appeals in Respect of Taxi Fares) (Scotland) Order 1985'. The procedural rules have recently been amended by 'The Licensing and Regulation of Taxis (Appeals in Respect of Taxi Fares) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2011' to reflect the legislative amendment within section 174 of the 2010 Act.
6.5. Taxi fares are a maximum, and in principle are open to downward negotiation between passenger and driver. It is not good practice, however, to encourage such negotiations at rank, or for on-street hailings as there would be risks of confusion and security problems. However, licensing authorities can usefully make it clear that published fares are a maximum, especially in the context of telephone bookings, where the customer benefits from competition. There is more likely to be a choice of taxi operators for telephone bookings, and there is scope for differentiation of services to the customer's advantage (for example, lower fares off-peak or for older people).
6.6. There may be a case for allowing any taxi operators who wish to do so, to make it clear - perhaps by advertising on the vehicle - that they charge less than the maximum fare.
Email: Joanna Mackenzie