FOI request detail

Freedom of Information request - Taxi Apps and starting the taximeter.

Request ID: FOI-1030-2122
Date published: 10 September 2021

You asked

Dear Transport for London, 1. Does TFL have a legal opinion or ordinary opinion that a taxi app job offered to a taxi driver constitutes a booking? If so, can you please publish this legal opinion or ordinary opinion? 2. If TFL agree the case of DPP v Comcab basically sets out that a taxi hiring starts when the booking is accepted by the taxi driver then: Has TFL sourced a legal opinion whether a taxi driver would be prosecuted for starting the taximeter once the app booking has been accepted and the taxi driver has started driving to the passengers pick up location? If so, can you please publish your legal opinion on this point? (There is no free flow of information between TFL and taxi app companies to consider for rejection of this request because there is no regulation of taxi app companies by TFL, similar to how TFL regulate private hire app companies/operators and require the free flow of information). 3. Alternatively, does TFL have a legal opinion or ordinary opinion to publish that shows the taxi driver is contracting with the app company and at what point the taxi driver starts the taximeter after accepting the app booking is a matter between the taxi driver and the app company? 4. Or a further alternative, does TFL have a legal opinion or ordinary opinion to publish that shows it is unlawful for a taxi driver to start the taximeter until the passenger has entered the taxi even though the taxi driver has pressed accept and accepted the booking on the app some considerable time earlier than picking up the passenger? 5. Lastly, how many taxi drivers has TFL prosecuted in the last 36 months for charging a fare above what has been showing on the taximeter when the taxi trip fare is charged via an app?

We answered

Our ref: FOI-1030-2122/GH & FOI-1031-2122/GH

Thank you for your requests received by Transport for London (TfL) on 19 August 2021.

Your requests have been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and our information access policy.

However, to be able to confirm whether we hold the information requested and to then provide a full response would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’ of £450 set by the Freedom of Information (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.

Under section 12 of the FOI Act, we are not obliged to comply with requests if we estimate that the cost of determining whether we hold the information, locating and retrieving it and extracting it from other information would exceed the appropriate limit. In this instance, we estimate that the time required to answer your request would exceed 18 hours which, at £25 per hour (the rate stipulated by the Regulations), exceeds the ‘appropriate limit’.

The requesting and provision of legal opinion and advice is conducted within the general course of business and so there is no central repository or reportable manner in which this information can be easily obtained. In order to ascertain whether we hold any information in response to your request we would need to manually review a significant volume of correspondence to consider what, if anything, fits within the scope of your request. This would be an extensive process for which it would be difficult to determine at what point we could be satisfied that we have exhausted all avenues of searching and therefore in a position to provide a full response. As a result the cost limit would be significantly breached.

It is perhaps also worth noting that the provision of legal advice is generally considered for exemption in accordance with section 42 of the FOI Act and so, even if it were found that information was held, it would be likely that this exemption would be strongly considered and possibly applied.

To help bring the cost of responding to your requests within the £450 limit, you may wish to consider refining your requests to concentrate on matters which are important to you.

Although your request can take the form of a question, rather than a request for specific documents, the Freedom of Information Act can only be used to request recorded information. TfL does not have to answer your question if it would require the creation of new information or the provision of a judgement, explanation, advice or opinion that was not already recorded at the time of your request. As previously explained, TfL does not generally provide legal opinions externally, and any legal advice which is held is likely to exempt from disclosure under section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act.

If you are not satisfied with this response please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Graham Hurt
FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

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