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Court halts granting of new taxi  licences in Dublin
The Examiner -  08, February, 2000 


PROPOSALS to more than double the current number of taxi  licences in Dublin city and to increase the number in Dundalk, Co. Louth were halted yesterday by High Court orders granted to four men who hold hackney licences.

Feichín McDonagh SC, for four licence holders, said his clients were challenging ministerial regulations governing the process for the issue of taxi  licences. 

If successful the action would mean there would be no prohibitions on the granting of such licences in future.

The four hackney drivers are Christopher Humphrey, St Teresa’s Gardens, Donore Avenue, Dublin; Kevin Brady, Ashbrook Avenue, Dundalk, Co. Louth; Tony Doyle, St Laurence’s Park, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin; Thomas O’Connor, Greenwood Drive, Red Barrons Road, Dundalk.

Mr Justice O’Neill gave the four men leave to seek a judicial review of ministerial regulations which have controlled taxi  licensing since 1978. 

The men allege that successive Ministers for the Environment and Local Government have exceeded their powers in making such regulations. The proceedings are also against the State.

The judge granted interim injunctions restraining Dundalk UDC and Dublin Corporation from allocating any taxi  licences, on foot of recent ministerial orders, pending the outcome of the judicial review proceedings. Mr Humphrey in an affidavit said he wished to hold a taxi  licence but had been prevented due to the quantitative restrictions imposed by Dublin Corporation and the criteria for assessing applicants.

Between the late 1970s and 1991 the number of taxi  licences in Dublin had been about 1,800; up to the end of last year the number was 2,700. It was now proposed to more than double the current number of licences available.

The court was informed that Mr Doyle had invested £1 million in a radio operating system for hackney cabs and despite this had been precluded from competing for even one of the licences to be issued. Mr McDonagh said it was intended under the proposed scheme to offer the holders of taxi  licences in Dublin a second licence. This meant that some people holding two, twenty and even thirty licences would get an additional licence for each one they held.

Mr McDonagh said that following the enactment of the Road Traffic Act 1961, public service regulations were introduced in 1963 for an application to be made to the Garda Commissioner by a person who wanted to hold a taxi  or hackney licence. There was no quantitative restriction.

Radical changes were made in 1978 by a provision whereby each local authority was required to set a limit on the number of taxi  licences. This was being challenged by his clients. There was a subsequent scheme whereby a taxi  licence could be sold and this gave rise to a market in such licences.

In 1995 a further ministerial regulation decided that taxi  licences were not to be issued by way of a points system. Regulations introduced in 1997 and 1999 varied the conditions.

Mr Brady and Mr O’Connor in affidavits complained that Dundalk UDC were charging £25,000 to issue a new taxi  licence. This had no bearing on either the costs of supervising or licensing the public service vehicles in the area but was to raise revenue for other council activities. The applicable fee for a taxi  licence in Northern Ireland was £58.50p.


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