Why Would You Use An Illegal York Or Yorkshire Chauffeur Firm
We live in a world where there is no escape from the “health and Safety” brigade, yet when it comes to handing out a big chauffeur contract a high proportion of businesses fail to carry out the proper checks to ensure they only use licensed companies, drivers and vehicles. To be fair it is understandable that an employee in a transport department might not be fully aware of the laws in relation to private hire vehicles in the uk.
Added to the problem is the public and businesses perception that if a service is being offered in public on a website etc it must be legal. This is a very misguided approach. With councils looking at having their budgets slashed and the fact the law states councils cannot add enforcement costs onto private hire and taxi licences, the industry relies on councils taking enforcement action against unlicensed companies and individuals breaking the law knowing that any legal costs will have to come out of other departmental budgets.
With the law on private hire vehicles being so complex and the fact some within the industry feel licensing officials find it easier and cheaper to look the other way how can we expect businesses to know the law, aside from that we as a company have never been asked by any company or individual to produce any of our licences, insurance etc.
So what can be done to ensure that businesses comply with their duty of care,
Considering the fact that a company who chooses to break the law tends to have a reason for doing so highlights the need to only use fully licensed chauffeur companies. In certain parts of the UK, chauffeurs, private hire and taxis who operate outside the law can be involved in criminal activities, some of which have a direct serious safety issue for the people travelling in their cars.
The drivers of unlicensed chauffeur companies won’t have had a class two medical or for that fact any medical at all. The same will apply for the compulsory criminal background checks all private hire and taxi drivers have, which again won’t apply to an unlicensed chauffeur because he or she won’t be forced to have one. This could allow criminals or people with serious criminal offences on their records to be driving around members of the public.
The vehicles which are being used won’t be independently checked and if less than three years old will operate off the three year manufacturers MOT exemption even though these vehicles can be doing anything up to 100,000+ miles a year. Would you like to be driven in a car with the up to 300,000 miles on the clock without ever having an MOT, I certainty wouldn’t. There are many reasons why chauffeur companies avoid the independent checks and up to three council MOT’s a year cost, the fact that the owner of said vehicle couldn’t obtain a licence anyway, most councils like our own York City Council have very stringent procedures to obtain the relevant licences to operate but for some reason will not chase those who for a multitude of reasons have no licences.
So, we have unlicensed unchecked vehicles and drivers and the potential that criminals own these firms and criminal activity taking place behind the scenes which could all come back to bite a respectable company if they give a contract to an unlicensed chauffeur firm. If the company providing the services is found to be a front for serious organised crime – which may sound a little over the top but as the owner of a very well respected chauffeur company in york i personally know of one chauffeur firm who have no licences, the owner is currently bankrupt and neither vosa or York City Council will do anything to catch or check this company, I FEAR FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND BUSINESSES ALIKE.
Finally, you have to consider the insurance implications. The law is there to protect the innocent in the UK if you are hit by an uninsured driver, but at the same time it has helped cause issues within the private hire industry. Because everybody is either covered by the insurance fund or ‘the last insured’ all third parties are insured whether there is an insurance policy in place.
It is because of this law that the police and officials take the view that an unlicensed chauffeur involved in an accident will always result in a paid claim for its passengers .I think it will take a death before a test case is put before a court.
Most, but not all UK insurers, have terms and conditions stating that if the driver, vehicle and operator don’t hold the relevant licenses as required by law then they are deemed to NOT be insured this in its self is an escape clause for any insurance company who doesn’t want to pay a massive claim. Also, material non-disclosure is important as more and more licensing authorities are starting to ask for insurance proposal forms and are finding after carrying out extensive checks that individuals or operators have lied to obtain the insurance. In the event of a tragedy the unlicensed firm will undoubtably collapse which would mean that the company who hired the service could be liable for any litigation. If a company offers a chauffeur service to their clients and it is found not to be licensed as required by law and they have failed to carry out the correct due-diligence, even if they have a waver claiming they are not responsible again liability most likely will rest with them.
The only way perceptions and attitudes will change is if companies are educated into changing their approach to hiring chauffeurs in the UK. I cannot believe the industry and their trade associations say it will take a serious assault, rape or death or an organised crime ring to be exposed before companies start asking the right questions. I can say that when and not if this happens it will be to late for some respectable corporations.
When requesting an insurance certificate for vehicles or public liability ask to see the original insurance policy and duly ring the insurance company to double check
Ask to see copies of the companies private hire operators licence and confirm the details are correct with the relevant authority.
Ask to see copies of all drivers and vehicles private hire licences.
Talk to the council issuing the licences to check the companies/vehicles/drivers history.
Ask councils for their licence terms and conditions for executive and chauffeur vehicles to enable you to know the rules the chauffeur service you are considering to give a contract to have to abide by.
Remember the responsibility is on your business to only use fully legal and licensed companies. The fact a service is being provided, no matter how big the chauffeur company definitely does not mean it is licensed in the UK to provide chauffeur services and by using these illegal operators, vehicles and drivers you not only risk the lives of your employees and visitors but could be supporting organised crime.