Taxi Regulation Act 2013 restates and revises the Taxi Regulation Act 2003. It seeks to strengthen enforcement including in particular
- managing disqualifications from holding a licence on conviction of certain offences,
- suspension and revocation of a licence or refusal having regard to the suitability of the applicant, including in particular a conviction for certain relevant offences or breaches of taxi regulation;
- fixed charge offences and offences that qualify as demerit offences and specification of conditions of a demerit scheme, leading ultimately to disqualification from holding a licence;
- enabling the Authority to enter service agreements with third-party providers for the purposes of enforcement;
- authorisation of officers to inspect and examine condition and unworthiness of the vehicles on private premises;
- enabling the National Transport Authority to authorise establishment and use of camera, CCTV and other apparatus for enforcement of taxi regulations and provide for admissibility of such evidence.
The Authority is to develop, operate and maintain a regulatory framework for licensing operation and standards of small public service vehicle’s drivers and services. The legislation prescribes the objectives which the Authority must seek to achieve in carrying out its functions.
Subject to Ministerial policy directions, the Authority is independent in carrying out its functions. The functions of the Authority can be carried out through its members, its employees or persons under a service agreement.
The Authority is to make small public service vehicle regulations in relation to the standards applicable to vehicles, drivers, dispatch officers and duties of drivers. It is an offence not to comply with the regulations.
The Authority may establish and adopt codes of practice for the purpose of giving practical guidance relating to the licence holders and standards with regard to duties of drivers etc. Codes of practice are in addition to and not in substitution for the small public service vehicle regulations.
It is the duty of licensees to comply with the codes of practice. In proceedings for an offence where a relevant code of practice is in effect, failure to observe the relevant code of practice or comply with it, is admissible as evidence.
It is an offence to provide small public service vehicle services without a licence. A person may not drive or use a vehicle in a public place for carriage of persons for reward without an SPSV driver’s licence which entitles him to do so.
A person may not drive or use a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place for carriage of persons for reward without an SPSV vehicle licence. It is an offence to act as a dispatch operator unless duly licensed.
A driver who charges above the fare agreed before commencement of a journey commits an offence. A passenger cannot be unreasonably refused by a taxi driver. Exceptions are specified. The journey must be completed by the taxi driver by the shortest route. It is an offence to fail to comply with any of the above.
The Authority may specify maximum fares by order. Different maximum fares may be fixed in respect of different hires whether single or shared or for different circumstances or times.
The Authority shall consult with the relevant Local Authority Advisory Committee and Legal Metrology Service, before fixing maximum fares. It shall consult publicly through a website and newspapers in respect of its proposals to fix a maximum fare. It is to take account of the representations. An Authority may publish on its website or in newspapers where maximum fares have been fixed.
An officer of the Authority may issue a certificate with regard to a specific day that a maximum fare was fixed. This is deemed evidence of its contents until the contrary is shown. It is an offence for a taxi driver to charge more than a maximum fare. Prior arrangements for payments are to be honoured in line with any maximum fares order.
Local authorities may make byelaws in relation to appointed stands (taxi ranks). Different byelaws may be made for different areas and in different circumstances. A driver of a taxi is not to stand for hire other than that at an appointed stand specified in the area or county specified in his driver’s licence.
A person shall not stand for hire at an appointed stand in contravention of byelaws. Where an appointed stand is full, a taxi driver may not consider part of the road adjoining it to be part of the appointed stand. A taxi driver may not stand or park with a vehicle at the appointed stand unless the vehicle is for hire.
The driver of a mechanically propelled vehicle which is not a taxi, may not stand or park with the vehicle at an appointed stand. An authorised person may ask a driver contravening this provision or certain public order provisions to move on. Contravention of any of the above constitutes an offence.
Making the byelaws is a reserved function. The Authority may draw up guidelines and byelaws are to be made having regard to the same.
A person cannot display or use the word taxi or its Irish variant or other derivatives if the vehicle is not licenced as a taxi. A person may not use any document or advertisement in respect of a small public service vehicle using the words “taxi” or its derivatives unless the service relates to a licensed taxi service. A person may not display a taxi sign or identification as a taxi unless it is duly licenced as such. Contravention is an offence.
It is an offence to forge, alter with intent to display any identification, signage etc. under the regulations. Any identification, signage etc. for one vehicle may not use on another vehicle. A person cannot use or display identification, signage etc. for that a SPV driver in respect of another driver.
Contravention of the above is an offence. A member of an Garda Síochána may arrest a person without a warrant if in his opinion, an offence has been committed under the provision or is being committed.
Regulations may be made prescribing the obligations of passengers in relation to their behaviour in taxis. Passengers or intended passengers must comply with code of passenger behaviour or reasonable requests made by the taxi driver. Passengers or intended passengers shall not without permission consume food or drink in a taxi.
A passenger may be asked by the driver to leave the vehicle or not to enter it if he contravenes the above provisions. Where a person refuses to leave a vehicle at the request of a driver, the driver may request assistance from a member of Garda Síochána. It is an offence for a passenger to contravene any of the above provisions.
The Authority may appoint authorised persons to carry out specified functions under the Act. Authorised officers have powers to ensure compliance with the legislation and codes of practice. They have powers to ensure vehicles are in a roadworthy condition. An authorised person may apply for a warrant where they seek to enter a private dwelling house.
An authorised person can require a person in charge of an SPSV that it not be used without testing before being used due to being unroadworthy or having a defect. An authorised person may seize and detain an SPSV and signage where the request is not complied with.
A authorised person must be accompanied by a member from Garda Síochána in seizing a vehicle above. Costs of seizure must be paid if release of the vehicle is sought. It is an offence to obstruct or fail to comply with a requirement by an authorised officer exercising his functions. A person who does so, may be arrested without warrant by a member from member of an Garda Síochána.
The Authority may approve location and operation by or on behalf of the Authority or by persons appointed under a service agreement, to facilitate monitoring and compliance with requirements, detection and monitoring of offences. The legislation provides for the use of cameras, CCTV and other apparatus. There is provision for use of the photographic evidence in court.
The Authority may bring and prosecute summary proceedings for offences under the Act. A court may revoke a licence upon conviction for an offence where the person who has been convicted is considered unsuitable to hold a licence.
An authorised officer can issue a fixed payment notice for specified breaches of the taxi regulation. Upon proof of payment of the notice, a prosecution may not be brought. Regulations may be made in respect of fixed penalty notices. The Authority may enter service agreements in relation to carrying out its functions and obligations.
The Authority is to establish and provide a user-friendly and assessable complaints procedures for small public service vehicles service users. It is to be published in its website and in printed form.
There is provision for fees in respect of SPSV licensing, award of quality service certification and issue of certificates relating to registers.
The Authority may establish a scheme of certification of quality SPSV providers. The Authority may determine the content, design and terms of display of notice regarding the quality certification. It is to consult with the Advisory Committee, Garda Commissioner and other relevant bodies in framing the scheme.
Regulation of the SPSV industry is an objective within the Authority’s strategic planning process. The Authority is to consult with the industry end users in this regard.
An Advisory Committee is to be established in relation to small public service vehicles. A Minister is to appoint a Committee chairperson and ordinary members. Members may be nominated for a range of disciplines and interest groups.
It is the general duty of the Council to advise the Commission or Minister in relation to issues relating to SPSV licences, drivers and dispatch operators. The range of matters in respect of which the Council may provide advice is set out.