Taxi Company in Landmark Ruling

Woodfines’ Road Transport Law specialists, Mike Hayward and Nathan Taylor-Allkins, are delighted to have assisted in securing the acquittal of Milton Keynes’ largest taxi company, Skyline Taxis, in a recent landmark ruling, involving the first known prosecution in the country under the Deregulation Act 2015 dealing with cross-border bookings.

District Judge Malcolm Dodds, sitting at High Wycombe Magistrates Court, handed down a thorough and reasoned written judgment dismissing a prosecution brought by Milton Keynes Council against ‘Skyline Taxis and Private Hire Limited’ and its Managing Director, Gavin Sokhi.

Kevin Leigh acted for Skyline and Daniel Oscroft for Mr Sokhi, both Counsel at No5 Chambers instructed by Woodfines.

The Council had alleged that the iCabbi computerised system operated by the company, breached the change in the law regarding subcontracting work to another licensed operators. In this case, that operator was another part of the Skyline business, licensed separately by the neighbouring South Northamptonshire District Council.

The Judge noted that the system has been operated for several years, that there have been no other prosecutions regarding its use, and the South Northants Council itself was content with its use.

Milton Keynes Council saw this as a test case and sought to argue that the law required either human intervention in the booking system, or separate computerised systems in each licensing area.

The Judge dismissed the case after accepting there was no case to answer, but went on to say that even if the case had continued, he would have been satisfied on the evidence of the iCabbi system and its operation by Skyline, that Mr Sokhi had acted lawfully. He especially noted that the company had a long and unblemished record as an operator, and that it was a responsible company that had fully engaged with the Council when adopting the iCabbi system following deregulation.

The Judge concluded that the iCabbi system specifically provided for a lawful method of transferring bookings between licensed operators in different districts, and provided a thorough record of such bookings that showed they were lawfully contracted.

For further information on this or any area of taxi licensing, please contact Mike Hayward or Nathan Taylor-Allkins.

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