Legal people check this document please? - Dave_TD
Hi all.

Today I was given a hastily typed photocopy of a "contract" by the minicab firm I subcontract to. We've never had any agreement on paper up to now, we've always followed the council (licensing authority) regulations and they've been fine. I can't see anything intrinsically wrong with it, but a few of the other drivers are complaining that it infringes their liberties, or goes too far. Can some of you guys with a little experience in these things have a look at it for me before I sign it please? I'm not opposed to it myself, but then I may have missed a major point somewhere along the line, that's where you come in! Here it is:

(photocopied onto headed notepaper)

Contract between Xxxxxx Cars Express Couriers Ltd (Hereinafter referred to as "The Operator" and [driver's name].

The following conditions will apply from 15/1/03 to all Private Hire drivers working through The Operator's radio circuit:

1. Vehicles will be kept at all times in a condition that complies with the provisions of Section 62 of Part II of the Local Government (miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976. This document is issued to all applicants for a Private Hire plate.

2. The Operator has the authority to inspect any vehicle for compliance of Para 1 at any time.

3. All commissions due to The Operator to be paid by the Tuesday after the previous week's work ending Sunday night.

4. Copies of all documentation pertaining to yourself and your vehicle must be lodged with The Operator.


Legal people check this document please? - BrianW
I'm not a lawyer, but:

On the English front, para 2. should read "compliance WITH Para 1" not "OF".

Para 4. "all documentation" is too non-specific as to which documents are required, it could be read to include such things as your birth certificate; driving licence; insurance; marriage certificate; repair bills; work permit; exam certificates; medical reports; etc. etc.
I would like to see it specify which ones.

I believe that the witness should both sign and state name and address. Pugugly?

Legal people check this document please? - frostbite
As a former cab driver, I think this looks quite a reasonable request to make sure all operators are legal.

They really ought to detail the meaning of 'documentation' in p.4, but aside from that it looks fine.
Legal people check this document please? - frostbite
Brian W's message appeared as I was typing mine! I wouldn't have bothered if it had appeared first, but at least we both spotted the oddity.

It seems to be a document produced by a non-legal person, probably with no sinister intent.
Legal people check this document please? - Dave_TD
Cheers so far, yes I've had to correct the English in three or four places when copying it across, but nothing that changes the meaning or the tone of the whole. It's getting late, I missed that grammatical error. "Documentation" I take to mean Driver's Licence, Private Hire Driver's Licence and badge, Schools Transport clearance certificate (ie CRB form) and badge, vehicle certificate of compliance (ie Council extra-strict MoT test), V5 registration document, car insurance certificate.

I'll check back before I start in the morning, about 6ish...
Legal people check this document please? - Pugugly {P}
Can't see anything legally wrong with it. It seems quite reasonable. I would suspect that some issue has cropped up with the Local Authority and possibly an attempt to pass the onus onto drivers of compliance with the regs. I agree with the "documentation" side of it and that this needs to be specific. Of course it relates to Insurance,MoT, Driver's Licence etc etc.

I recently handled a case where a Private Hire driver was, how can I say, "privateering" - apparantly without the knowledge of the Company. He was caught by a sting operation between the Police and Local Authority and well and truly caught, by the way. The side issues involved in a mega scrutineering from the LA which caused the Company some problems - I can see shades of this here.

By the way this ain't legal advice in any way. See a CAB solicitor if you have any doubt or even better contact the Licensing Officer at your Local Council if you can trust him.
Legal people check this document please? - DavidHM
This isn't legal advice either, but...

If I were drafting this, I'd probably replace 'authority' in para. 2 with 'right' - firstly because 'authority' might be ambiguous in favour of the driver, and secondly because it avoids confusion with the people responsible for the licensing. I had to read it twice anyway.

Also, does the right to inspect 'at any time' really mean what it says. In other words, if you're tucked up in bed at 4 a.m., can the operator (or their agent, presumably) demand to see your car there and then? Maybe this is unrealistic but if the working relationship deteriorated enough, it's not impossible and it's probably better to try and impose some kind of framework for inspections if the driver is not working.

It might also be worthwhile, for the avoidance of doubt, to specify exactly what action the operator (as opposed to the LA) will take if a vehicle is found to break the conditions imposed by para. 1 and s.62. IMHO, that would make it more difficult for either side to get shirty with the other if there were a dispute.

It goes without saying that I agree with the other posters as to making it clear what documentation should be provided.

Of course, how you're going to explain all this to your boss, who has presumably drafted this contract himself, is another matter. It's not that the contract is terrible or anything, but contracts only really matter when things go wrong.
Legal people check this document please? - drbe
Have you considered becoming an operator? I did this some 9 years ago and haven't looked back.

An ad in the Yellow Pages (free if you go for lineage only) can bring in a lot of business.
Plusses. You decide when you want to work. You decide how much to charge. No commission to pay.
Minuses. You could find yourself working too many hours. You don't work a shift and finish. If it goes well you could have problems covering all the jobs.

I seem to remember that you are in the North aren't you? I am in the Deep South (Surrey)and there is, it seems, some fairly major differences - sorry if that is a statement of the obvious.

What is it that you are not happy about, concerning the agreement? There seems to be no minimum or maximum period of time on the agreement - surely either party should be able to give the other, say, one weeks notice to terminate.

Email me if you want to discuss things privately.

Regards drbe Don
Legal people check this document please? - Dave_TD
Hi all.

Thanks very much for your responses, I checked this morning but didn't have time to post a reply! The main thing I was worrying about was that I'd missed anything major that might have been implied, it seems I haven't. I will discuss this with the top guy tomorrow, will adjust the bit about documentation then sign away. I think an earlier post was right, a lot of the thinking behind this is just covering the operator's own a**e in case of any future problems.

drbe -

North?? All the way up in the wilds of M1 junction 13 I'm afraid... I decide when I want to work (within reason) anyhow, we pretty much always have more work than we can handle, the controller simply weeds out the bottom layer (rough pubs etc) and we do the rest! I do work too many hours though, but that's through choice, not by force.
The agreement, as I say, has up to now been roughly in line with council guidelines, but if a driver gets the hump he can just hand his radio in and leave, no notice required! There are another 10 companies in town, each with varying quantities and qualities of work, and they will quite happily "poach" drivers from each other.
I wouldn't want to become an owner-operator, for a start the O-licence is nearly £2000, and for another thing all the business in this town goes on reputation, and the company I drive for has the best reputation of the lot. Smartest cars, most punctual, most courteous drivers etc. It takes years to educate the paying public about a new company, most new ventures fold within a year or so.

Once again, thankyou all. ;-)

Dave TD.

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