Illegal cab firm finally brought to justice after two year court battle

Rutland County Council taxi licence on 1st Choice vehicle, Aylesbury
Rutland County Council taxi licence on 1st Choice vehicle, Aylesbury

A cab firm has finally been banned from Aylesbury’s roads and ordered to pay a hefty £25,000 following a two-year battle to get them off the streets.

Call a Cab – also known as Easy Cabs – unlawfully operated under a Rutland County Council private hire licence which Aylesbury Vale District Council claimed was illegal.

It said cabs must be licensed by them to ensure they were subject to the same safety checks and regulations as other taxi firms in the Vale.

After several twists and turns during a two year battle in the courts, a judge has finally convicted the firm and its boss Ahtiq Raja of operating without a licence.

Chairman of the licensing committee councillor Judy Brandis said: “This has been a protracted and costly prosecution but sends the strongest possible message that Aylesbury Vale District Council will challenge unlawful practices which undermine public safety, essential regulatory standards and fair competition. This was an important case and we are delighted with the outcome.”

In 2012, the district council prosecuted the firm for acting as a private hire operator without a licence from AVDC together.

However, the case collapsed on a legal loophole after Call a Cab argued that the council had not properly adopted the relevant provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1977.

The council had passed a resolution to adopt the provisions on March 8 1989 and was able to provide evidence of the newspaper advertisements, but it could not prove that notices had been sent to parish councils and meetings because its files had been destroyed.

For this reason, the court dismissed the council’s case.

However, in November last year the High Court allowed the council’s appeal and sent the case back to the Magistrates’ Court for reconsideration.

This week Call a Cab was convicted of five offences of operating a private hire vehicle without a licence and its sole director at the time, Mr Raja, for aiding and abetting the commission of the offences.

District Judge Tim Pattinson decided that the additional evidence obtained by AVDC left him in no doubt that the appropriate notifications were made and that the resolution passed by the council in 1989 was valid.

He had no hesitation in rejecting the defence that the company did not require a licence because it was acting as an intermediary, and imposed a fine of £2,500 each on the firm and Mr Raja.

Both the company and Mr Raja also have to pay a victim surcharge of £50 and prosecution costs of £20,000 in total.

Judge Pattinson also noted that the firm had put the council to a great deal of expense and taken up valuable court time.