11 011 536

Category : Environment and regulation > Licensing

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 27 Jun 2012

Summary

Castle Point Borough Council failed to provide taxi drivers who it had overcharged since 2004 with compensation recommended by the Local Government Ombudsman in a 2011 report.

The complaint

The Ombudsman said: “Drivers who have held a licence since 2004 have been caused an injustice due to the overcharging. The Council has not provided a full remedy for that injustice.”

In February 2011 the Ombudsman issued a report against the Council finding that it had overcharged licensed taxi drivers since January 2004. She asked the Council to reimburse the complainant – a licensed taxi driver – and to take steps to remedy the injustice caused to other drivers since 2004. The Council refunded £99 to that complainant and gave him £75 in recognition of his time and trouble in pursuing the complaint.

Mr A was also a licensed taxi driver. He complained that the Council had not provided a remedy for himself and 24 other drivers in line with the Ombudsman’s report. The Council had taken some steps, but Mr A says the Council’s action did not fully reimburse his losses.

Conversely, the Council said it had offered a free Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check worth £44 to all the affected drivers and it has reduced the licence fee. The Council said it had fulfilled the recommendations of the previous report.

The Ombudsman found the Council has not implemented a remedy that met the recommendations of her previous report. She welcomed the offer of the free CRB check but this was not enough to remedy the full injustice caused to Mr A and to the other drivers. The reduction in the licence fee could not form part of the wider remedy because it merely moved the fee towards the amount it would have been had the fault in 2003 not occurred.

Mr A and other drivers who had held a licence since 2004 had been caused an injustice due to the overcharging. The Council had not provided a full remedy for that injustice.

Recommendations

The Ombudsman recommended the Council to:

  • calculate how much it has overcharged Mr A and the other 24 drivers and refund those amounts, and
  • pay £50 to Mr A in recognition of his time and trouble in pursuing the complaint.

As an alternative, the Council could pay £55 to Mr A and to each of the 24 drivers. This would be in addition to the free CRB check.

The Council should apply the same approach to remedying injustice in other similar cases that come to its attention.

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