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Thread: Pedicabs to go to court - 2007

  1. #1
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    Post Pedicabs to go to court - 2007

    Published Date: 21/Dec/2007

    In 1998, Bugbugs Ltd started operating bicycle rickshaws, or ‘pedicabs’, in central London. Today, it has over fifty pedicabs and three hundred riders who hire the pedicabs to carry passengers around the West End.

    Whether or not these pedicabs should be licensed as hackney carriages has been a legal question that has not yet been resolved, and on 21 December the company failed in an attempt to stop the question being re-opened.

    A High Court ruling in 2003 defined pedicabs as Stage Carriages but the PCO has failed to introduce an appropriate licensing regime.

    Although these operate in some other major cities, such as Edinburgh and even Skegness, different legislation applies to London.

    The Public Carriage Office – which regulates hackney carriages in the capital for Transport for London - had sought a High Court declaration that a pedicab is a hackney carriage. Bugbugs had asked that the application be struck out.

    Counsel for Bugbugs told Mrs Justice Swift that the issue had been decided in favour of Bug-Bugs by courts in 1999, and twice in 2003 (see 26 Licensing News 21).

    The matter was therefore settled law, they argued, and TfL were abusing the process of the court to reopen the matter.

    The judge held that the master was however entitled to dismiss the application to strike out the application. She said it was generally agreed a system of regulation was necessary for the safe and efficient operation of pedicabs. TfL had decided the best way was through an amended form of hackney carriage licensing regime. This could not occur unless there was an authoritative decision as to whether, in law, a pedicab was a hackney carriage.

    This was not a case where there were purely private issues at stake. TfL’s application for a declaratory judgement was founded on the state’s responsibilities towards potential passengers of pedicabs and other road users, as well as their riders and operators. She rejected the notion that TfL’s conduct was ‘unjust harassment’ of Bug-Bugs.

    TfL has a duty to consider the interest of parties other than Bugbugs, she said. It had considered the effect of the case by agreeing to a pay a substantial sum towards the cost of opposing TfL’s application, and had embarked on a wider process of consultation about pedicab licensing. This had started in 2006, at the time TfL had embarked on its application for a declaratory judgement.

    Last October, Westminster council proposed a voluntary licensing regime for the vehicles. The Local Transport Bill presented to parliament in November was originally expected to contain proposals for a licensing regime, but this has now been dropped.

    Clause 34 of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London (No 2) Bill introduced on 5 December 2007 makes provision for the regulation of pedicabs if they are licensed.

    Today's judgement means the case can now go for a full hearing for a ruling on whether pedicabs are to be classed as hackney carriages.

    More information are in the Institute Library under Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles, or at or at

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  3. #3
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    And 3 years later it is still a big ugly mess in the West End with no end in sight. So sad that at times I feel like getting a real job.
    Good times and riches and son of a bitches,
    I've seen more than I can recall.
    J. Buffett

    It's all shits and giggles until someone giggles and shits!

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