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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71053
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I am a taxi driver. I have had many disputes with the council

Customer Question

I am a taxi driver. I have had many disputes with the council licencing department.
It all came to a head after I made a complaint about taxi marshalls. The council turned my complaint around and agreed with the marshalls that I was at fault. They decided to put me infront of a discaplinary committee. I was finally accused of three different offences. Trying to run the marshalls over,touting, and swearing at the marshalls. I showed the marshalls to be liars and the committee could not find against me on the two seriouse charges, but decided that I had probably sworn at the marshalls. I knew the council were after my licence by any means so I went to the expence of taking a lawyer with me. My expences came to over £3500. After the hearing I complained to the Local Government Ombudsman. The Ombudsman decided almost entirely in my favour and made the council write a letter of apology to me for the unjust way they dealt with me. They also made the council put measures in place, and change their way of dealing with people. The Ombudsman could not find fault with the committee hearing because it is not within their power to do so. But the council were clearly at fault. The Ombudsman did not say the council should reimburse my costs. I think they should. Would I stand any chance of getting my costs from the council if I took them to court. They were clearly negligent and biased in the way they dealt with me. A prime example is the witnesses statements. I have a admission from a licencing officer that both taxi marshalls and two licencing officers were sitting round a table writing the statements together. Colluding. The council also made no effort to get evidence.The street where the incident was supposed to have happened was covered by CCTV. They also didn't ask me for my side of the story until they had told me I was guilty and had to answer to a committee. They also had a statement from a policeman saying there was nothing to answer to, but they still put me in front of a committee in an attempt to remove my taxi licence. Do I stand a chance of getting my cost from them?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

What are you costs please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


I have put that in my original question. Over £3500.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Is this purely legal costs? That seems enormously high.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The solicitor had to come to two hearings because the council committee voted to postpone the first one because their witnesses, the marshalls I had complained about did not turn up. We wanted the whole thing to be thrown out as a waste of time but they set a new date and made me return. Vastly increasing my costs. I suppose a lot of the solicitors charges resulted from having to travel to two hearings in Shrewsbury which is about 20 miles from Oswestry where we are based.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for the information.

I am sorry but I cannot give you good news then.

At an Ombudsman hearing there is no scope to order costs. You just plain cannot get the Ombudsman to do so.

You don’t have a contract with the licensing department so you cannot sue on that basis.

I suppose you could try arguing that they were negligent. They are a public body and have as much duty as anybody else to avoid negligent conduct. The problem here is that your loss is pure economic which is prohibited under negligence claims.

Also, I’m afraid, it was ultimately your choice to secure representation. It was clearly the right thing to do but its not something that flows from the misconduct of the council entirely .

They might settle if you do issue. Quite often councils will to avoid the upheaval of having to explain their decisions. That is a risk that you take though.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thats what I thought. If I do try to get my costs from the council would I need to engage a solicitor or would I be able to go through the small claims court?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
You can engage a solicitor but it will rack up the costs and you won't be able to reclaim it.

This is a small claims court sum so it will be cheap and quick to issue here

I realise its too late now but for future information, you will find a barrister under public access much cheaper than a solicitor. I do a lot of these hearings and I probably would have done it for £500.