Taxi drivers’ challenge derailed

Posted: 19th March 2014

Train platformBristol taxi drivers have failed in a costly legal challenge to the imposition of a £375 annual charge for the right to stand in ranks at the city’s Temple Meads Station.

Two cab drivers, representing all members of the Bristol branch of the National Taxi Association, had fiercely objected to the charges proposed by train company First Great Western, which held a leasehold interest in the station. It was submitted that the station’s two cab stands had been established by bye-law and were ‘public’ in nature. It did not matter that they stood on private land and the train company simply had no power to levy the charges.

Those arguments did not persuade the High Court and, in dismissing the cabbies’ challenge to that decision, the Court of Appeal found that their demands to be able to await their passengers free of charge were subject to the train company’s private property rights.

After conducting a detailed analysis of various statutory provisions relating to taxi stands, the Court found that Parliament had consistently recognised and respected the right of private property owners to prohibit any inroad into their power to control use of their land.

Noting that there was ‘nothing inherently contradictory’ in public taxi stands being fixed to private land, the Court found that First Great Western was entitled to make its permission to use the station ranks conditional on taxi drivers obtaining a permit and paying the controversial charges. The cab drivers were ordered to pay the train company’s substantial legal costs.