QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF BOROUGH OF TELFORD AND WREKIN||(CLAIMANT)|
|SHREWSBURY CROWN COURT||(DEFENDANT)|
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(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR HUGH RICHARDS (instructed by Elliot Bridgeman Solicitors, Telford) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"Although there was no history of hypoglycaemic attacks, I understood that the medical adviser to Telford and Wrekin Council had always taken the view that diabetics treated with insulin would present an unacceptable risk in taxi drivers. I therefore advised him that he was unsuitable to become a taxi driver because of his medical condition and I did not proceed with the medical. Despite letters from Dr Good who works as an assistant to Dr West the diabetic Consultant at Princess Royal Hospital and some further information from the Licensing Authority, I cannot see that there is any reason to change this opinion. I have discussed the matter with my partners who also act as medical advisers for taxi licensing and they are of the same opinion."
Acting upon that advice, Mr Malik's licence was not renewed.
"I would also draw your attention to the 'What is 'At a glance' issued by the DVLA page 3 or 4 'DVLA does not issue licences for taxis, ambulances or emergency service vehicles. The Medical commission on Accident Prevention recommends that group 2 medical standards should be applied to these categories as an occupational health policy."
That part of the letter was a reference to the DVLA guidance which Dr Wainwright set out.
"I have no doubt having had his licence withdrawn the appellant was in the position of being unable to pursue his occupation. I have no doubt the Local Authority were acting reasonably and honestly. Underlying was mischief of arbitrary approach taken by Local Authority in taking a blanket approach - Dr Wainwright's refusal to examine. Had the Local Authority been more reasonable, the costs might have been avoided."
"... a district council ... shall not grant a licence
(a) unless they are satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a driver's licence."
By section 77 there is a right of appeal during which period the person seeking to appeal may carry on his business. There is a right of appeal to magistrates and thereafter to the Crown Court.
"1. Section 64(1) confers a discretion upon a magistrates' court to make such order as to costs as it thinks just and reasonable. That provision applies both to the quantum of the costs (if any) to be paid, but also as to the party (if any) which should pay them.
2. What the court will think just and reasonable will depend on all the relevant facts and circumstances of the case before the court. The court may think it just and reasonable that costs should follow the event, but need not think so in all cases covered by the subsection.
3. Where a complainant has successfully challenged before justices an administrative decision made by a police or regulatory authority acting honestly, reasonably, properly and on grounds that reasonably appear to be sound, in exercise of its public duty, the court should consider, in addition to any other relevant facts or circumstances, both (i) the financial prejudice to the particular complainant in the particular circumstances if an order for costs is not made in his favour; and (ii) the need to encourage public authorities to make and stand by honest reasonable and apparently sound administrative decisions made in the public interest without fear of exposure to undue financial prejudice if the decision is successfully challenged."
I should note that submissions advanced on behalf of the Council in that case were specifically rejected by the court at paragraph 22. They went too far. Those submissions are recorded at paragraph 10 of the judgment. At that point Mr Blair-Gould's submission on behalf of the Council is recorded as being that no costs should be awarded against an authority making an administrative decision unless it has acted unreasonably, improperly or dishonestly. Thus, the court may order costs even if it takes the view that the authority did act reasonably and properly. Nevertheless, it is plain that costs should not be awarded merely because the licensing authority has lost the appeal. It is difficult to conceive of circumstances in which it would be just and reasonable to award costs against an authority acting in a licensing capacity, unless there was a good reason to do so.