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Taxi Regulation Act 2003
Amendment of Road Traffic Act 2002
Amendment of section 23 of Act of 2002 (penalties).
56. —Section 23 of the Act of 2002 is amended in the Table thereto by substituting in column (3)—
(a) at reference number 24, “€1,500” for “€800”, and
(b) at reference number 25, “€800” for “€1,500”.
Amendment of Part 1 of First Schedule to Act of 2002 (penalty points).
57. —The chapeau to the columns of Part 1 of the First Schedule to the Act of 2002 is amended by inserting “or may” after “required to” and the chapeau, as so amended, is set out in the Table to this section.
TAXI REGULATION ACT 2003
[This memorandum is not part of the Act and does not purport to be a legal interpretation.]
The principal purposes of this Act can be summarised as follows—
— to provide for the establishment of the Commission for Taxi Regulation;
— to provide for a new code for the regulation of small public service vehicles and their drivers with a particular emphasis on the establishment of a qualitative and consumer orientated licensing system;
— to realise the establishment of the Advisory Council to the Commission for Taxi Regulation which will advise both the Commission and the Minister for Transport in relation to issues relevant to small public service vehicles and their drivers.
Section 1 is a standard provision regarding the short title of the Act.
Section 2 sets out definitions of various terms which are referred to in the Act.
Particular attention is drawn to the following:
— “Commission” is defined to mean the Commission for Taxi Regulation;
— “Council” means the Advisory Council to the Commission;
— “grant” in relation to a licence, includes the renewal, transfer or continuance in force of the licence;
— “licence” means a licence in respect of a small public service vehicle or a licence to drive a small public service vehicle granted, as the case may be, under section 34 of this Act or section 82 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 ;
— “the Minister” means the Minister for Transport.
Section 3 contains standard provisions relating to orders and regulations made under the Act by the Minister or the Commission, including the requirement of laying such orders and regulations before each House of the Oireachtas.
Section 4 provides that where the Minister incurs expenses under the Act, they may be paid out of monies provided by the Oireachtas, as sanctioned by the Minister for Finance.
Section 5 empowers the Minister to make an order appointing the day to be the establishment day of the Commission for Taxi Regulation.
Section 6 provides for the establishment of the Commission for Taxi Regulation, that the Commission will be a body corporate and will have all the powers necessary for the performance of its functions under the Act.
Section 7 provides for the seal of the Commission, the authentication of the seal and that judicial notice shall be taken of it.
Section 8 establishes that the Commission will be independent in the exercise of its functions.
Section 9 establishes both the principal function and the objectives of the Commission.
Subsection (1) presents the Commission's principal function as being the development and maintenance of a regulatory framework for the control and operation of small public service vehicles and their drivers.
Subsection (2) outlines the objectives of the Commission. A particular emphasis is placed on the promotion and maintenance of a quality service by small public service vehicles and their drivers, that is professional, safe and has a strong customer orientation.
Subsection (3) provides that the functions of the Commission may be exercised by its staff or persons authorised by the Commission.
Section 10 provides that the Minister can give policy directions to the Commission in relation to small public service vehicles and their drivers, which the Commission must comply with. Subsection (3) provides that notice of the giving of a direction under the section and details of it must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and be published in Iris Oifigiúil.
Section 11 allows the Commission to use income generated by receipts from fees under the Act to provide financial assistance to local authorities to support the development or provision of infrastructure to facilitate and support the operation of small public service vehicles. A scheme prepared by the Commission for the purposes of this section will be prepared in consultation with the Advisory Council and with the consent of the Minister.
Section 12 permits the Commission to engage a statutory body to provide services to support the performance of the Commission functions.
Section 13 provides that the Commission shall consist of at least one and not more than 3 members, each to be known as a Commissioner for Taxi Regulation. Subsection (3) provides specifically that the Commission can regulate its own procedures.
Section 14 provides for the appointment and terms of office of the Commissioners.
Subsection (1) provides that the Minister is responsible for the appointment of each Commissioner subject to terms and conditions, including remuneration, fixed by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance.
Subsection (2) provides that all Commissioners must be selected by open recruitment competition held by the Civil Service and Local Appointments Commission on behalf of the Commission.
Subsection (3) establishes that the period of appointment for a Commissioner will be not less than 3 years and not more than 5 years.
Subsection (4) relates to the appointment by the Minister of a chairperson of the Commission, where there is more than 1 Commissioner, and subsection (5) provides that the chairperson will have a casting vote where it is necessary.
Subsections (6) and (7) provide for the re-appointment for a second term of Commissioners and that the maximum period that a Commissioner can serve will be 10 years.
Subsections (8) and (9) provide that where the chairperson is not available, another Commissioner can be appointed by the Minister as an acting chairperson and that the Commission can perform its functions even when there is a vacancy in its membership.
Section 15 provides that where there is only one Commissioner, he or she may appoint a member of the Commission staff to be a deputy commissioner to assume and carry out the functions of the Commission in certain circumstances.
Section 16 provides for the resignation of or the removal of a Commissioner by the Minister. Subsection (2) establishes the parameters that must apply in the case of a decision to remove a Commissioner. Subsection (3) provides that the Minister must give a statement of reasons for the removal of a Commissioner and the statement must be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Subsection (4) clarifies that where the chairperson of the Commission ceases to be a Commissioner he or she will also cease to be chairperson of the Commission.
Section 17 establishes that where a Commissioner is nominated or elected to public office in the Dáil, Seanad, European Parliament or a local authority, he or she will be deemed to have vacated his or her office with the Commission. Subsections (4) and (5) also provide that a Commissioner cannot take up other paid employment or take up a consultancy or employment within a year of leaving the Commission that would have a direct relevance to the duties he or she exercised as a Commissioner.
Section 18 provides that the Commission may, subject to the consent of the Ministers for Transport and Finance, determine the number, grading, remuneration and other conditions of service of its staff and appoint persons to be members of its staff.
Subsection (2) clarifies the position of staff of the Commission with previous service in the Civil Service or Local Government service and provides for the reckonability of such previous service.
Section 19 allows the Commission to engage consultants or advisers for the purpose of assisting it in the discharge of its functions.
Section 20 clarifies the position relating to the staff of the Commission with regard to membership of the Oireachtas, the European Parliament and local authorities.
Subsection (1) provides that on being nominated or elected or on becoming a member of any of those institutions, an employee of the Commission will be seconded from the Commission to that institution for the period involved and will not be paid by or be entitled to receive remuneration or allowances from the Commission for that period.
Subsection (2) provides that a person who is entitled to sit in either House of the Oireachtas or who is a member of the European Parliament is disqualified from becoming a member of the staff of the Commission.
Subsection (3) provides that a period of secondment referred to in subsection (1), shall not be reckoned as service with the Commission for superannuation purposes.
Section 21 places an obligation on Commissioners, staff, advisers, consultants, authorised persons and agents of the Commission not to disclose confidential information obtained by them while performing their duties.
Subsection (2) defines “confidential information” for the purposes of this section.
Subsection (3) provides that a person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €3,000 and subsection (5) provides that the Commission can prosecute such an offence.
Subsection (4) clarifies the position in relation to the disclosure of information in a report made to the Commission or by or on behalf of the Commission to the Minister, while subsection (6) amends the Freedom of Information Act 1997 by inserting the reference to this Act into the Third Schedule for the purpose of setting aside the secrecy provisions of this section for the purposes of FOI.
Section 22 establishes requirements for Commissioners, the staff of the Commission, advisers, consultants or any other person engaged by the Commission to disclose any interests that may be of relevance to the functions of the Commission.
Subsection (2) clarifies that a beneficial interest for the purposes of this section includes a small public service vehicle licence or a licence to drive a small public service vehicle.
Section 23 provides for the establishment of a superannuation scheme for Commissioners with the consent of the Minister for Finance.
Section 24 provides for the establishment of a superannuation scheme for the staff of the Commission with the approval of the Minister and the consent of the Minister for Finance.
Section 25 provides that the chairperson of the Commission or the Commissioner will be required to give evidence before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee and specifically any other Committee of one or both Houses of the Oireachtas whenever required or requested to do so.
Section 26 allows the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to advance money to the Commission out of moneys provided for by the Oireachtas.
Section 27 enables the Commission, with the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance, to borrow money for the purpose of carrying out its functions.
Section 28 requires the Commission to draw up and adopt a Statement of Strategy within 1 year of its establishment and every 5 years thereafter. The draft statement must be subject to a public consultation process. The statement must be presented to the Minister and any Committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas as the Minister directs and must also be published.
Section 29 provides for the keeping of accounts by the Commission, the auditing of these accounts by the Comptroller and Auditor General and for their laying before each House of the Oireachtas, together with the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. The section also provides for the presentation of an annual report of the Commission to the Minister.
Section 30 obligates the Commission to keep abreast of policies, objectives, resolutions and guidelines which may emerge from the Minister, the European Commission and any other public authority inside or outside the State which may have a bearing on any matter with which the Commission is concerned.
Section 31 allows the Commission to publish any report or code of practice on matters relating to its functions.
Section 32 empowers the Commission to purchase, lease, equip and maintain offices and premises for the purposes of discharging its functions, subject to the consent of the Minister and the Minister for Finance.
Section 33 provides that the Minister may make orders bringing the provisions of Part 3 of the Act into operation. This Part provides for the regulation of small public service vehicles.
Section 34 provides a new legislative basis for the regulation of the licensing, ownership, control and operation of small public service vehicles and their drivers. It will replace section 82 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 and empowers the Commission to make regulations that will provide a replacement to the current Public Service Vehicle Regulations.
Subsection (1) empowers the Commission to make regulations relating to the licensing, ownership, control and operation of small public service vehicles and the licensing and control of the drivers of such vehicles. The subsection also establishes a benchmark to the overall focus of the new licensing regime which will relate primarily to qualitative standards.
Subsection (2) provides for the regulation of a broad range of matters such as:
— the categorisation of small public service vehicles and their drivers;
— the determination of the appropriate authorities for the purpose of granting licences;
— requirements for the consideration and grant of licences;
— standards for the operation of licensed vehicles;
— the inspection of vehicles both for the purpose of the grant of licences and the ongoing operation of the licensed vehicles;
— the determination of powers for authorised persons (see section 49 ) in connection with regulations made under this section.
Subsection (3) provides that the Commission can establish requirements and conditions for licence applicants in respect of a number of areas focused on the delivery of good quality services to consumers.
Subsection (4) allows the Commission to authorise or approve persons for the purpose of making determinations as to the competence of a licence applicant in respect of any of the areas in respect of which standards are applied.
Subsections (5) and (6) relate specifically to the licensing of the drivers of small public service vehicles. The former provides that the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána and the Advisory Council must be consulted in respect of any regulation made that relates to drivers. Subsection (6) provides for the regulation of additional issues over those provided for in subsections (2) and (3) in relation to drivers, following consultation with the Garda Commissioner and the Advisory Council.
Subsections (7) to (9) relate generally to the making of regulations and provide in particular that different requirements and conditions can be applied to different categories of vehicle and driver licences.
Subsection (10) provides that a person who fails to comply with or contravenes a regulation under this section, will be guilty of an offence.
Section 35 provides that any decision made to refuse to grant, suspend or revoke a licence can be reviewed at the request of the applicant or licence holder and that where the decision is upheld, an appeal can be made to the District Court.
Section 36 introduces a system of automatic disqualification from applying for or holding a licence for those who have been convicted of one of a range of very serious offences. The section includes provisions through which a person who is affected by this provision can request the courts to allow them to apply for a licence in certain restricted circumstances.
In addition, where a person has committed one of a number of serious traffic offences he or she will be disqualified for holding a licence to drive a small public service vehicle for a period additional to any driving disqualification that is applied.
Section 37 provides that all decisions to grant licences under this Act will be subject to the production by the applicant of a tax clearance certificate.
Section 38 provides that the Commission can establish and maintain a register or registers of licences which will include data held by other licensing authorities.
Section 39 empowers the Commission to make regulations in relation to the conduct, general behaviour, deportment and the duties of drivers of small public service vehicles.
Subsection (2) sets out a range of matters in respect of which the Commission may set requirements through regulations including requirements relating to the general behaviour and deportment of the drivers of small public service vehicles while driving or otherwise using such vehicles. A driver who does not comply with such requirements will be guilty of an offence.
Section 40 establishes obligations and rules that apply to any person who is either a passenger or an intending passenger or a hirer of a small public service vehicle. The obligations include reference to general or criminal behaviour and to the payment of fares.
Section 41 provides that the Commission can declare an area to be a taximeter area and alter or extend existing taximeter areas following consultation with the Garda Commissioner, the Advisory Council and the relevant local authority.
Section 42 provides that the Commission may make orders fixing the maximum fares for taxis operating in any taximeter area following a consultation process including public advertisement. Fares can be fixed for either shared or single hires.
Section 43 provides that a person shall not drive or use a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place for the carriage of persons for reward unless both the vehicle and its driver is licensed under this Act.
Section 44 establishes a range of penalties to be applied on conviction for offences under this Act. Generally maximum penalties of up to €3,000 or €1,500 can be applied depending on the seriousness of the offence. However an offence of being engaged in any activity relating to the operation of small public service vehicle services when disqualified under section 36 could on conviction on indictment, attract a fine of up to €50,000 and/or 3 years in jail.
Section 45 provides that offences under this Part of the Act or under section 82(6) of the Road Traffic Act 1961 can be prosecuted summarily by the Commission, a member of the Gardaí, another authorised person or another licensing authority.
Section 46 empowers the Commission to make regulations, with the consent of the Minister, for the purpose of applying fixed charges to offences under the Act or under section 82 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 . The payment of a fixed charge will mean that a prosecution will not be taken.
Section 47 provides that the Commission may draw up guidelines for other licensing authorities in relation to the licensing and operation of small public service vehicles and their drivers.
Section 48 empowers the Commission to establish a quality service certification scheme to be applied to services that support small public service vehicle operations.
Section 49 provides that authorised persons may be appointed by the Commission. Members of the Gardaí will be automatically regarded as authorised persons. Authorised persons will perform the enforcement functions necessary to support the regulations and other controls applied under this Act.
Section 50 provides for matters relating to the accrual, use and disposal of fee income received by the Commission.
Subsection (3) provides that where another body is carrying out licensing functions on behalf of the Commission, a percentage of the fees received as a result of that body's involvement can be retained by it. The determination of that percentage will be subject to agreement with the Minister and the Minister for Finance.
Subsection (4) provides that where there is excess income available to the Commission each year, having provided for the necessary funding provided for in this section, its disposal will be provided for in agreement with the Minister and the Minister for Finance.
Section 51 provides for the establishment by the Commission of a complaints procedure for members of the public, users and intending users of small public service vehicles.
Section 52 provides that section 82 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 will continue to apply to the licensing and operation of large public service vehicles only. The section also provides for the continuance in force of regulations made under section 82 in relation to small public service vehicles and empowers the Commission to amend or revoke such regulations with the consent of the Minister.
Section 53 provides that the Minister may make an order appointing a day on which the Advisory Council to the Commission for Taxi Regulation will be established.
Section 54 provides for the establishment of the Advisory Council, for its membership and related matters. The Minister will appoint the Council, chairperson and ordinary members. Members may be nominated from a range of disciplines or interest groupings referred to in subsection (4).
Section 55 provides that the general duty of the Council will be to advise the Commission or the Minister in relation to issues relevant to small public service vehicles and their drivers. The range of matters in respect of which the Council may provide advice from time to time to either the Commission or to the Minister is set out in subsection (2).
Section 56 provides for an amendment to the Table to section 23 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 to make a correction to the maximum fine that may be imposed in respect of two offences under section 106 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 .
An Roinn Iompair,
PUBLISHED BY THE STATIONERY OFFICE