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ACT NOT REACT INTRODUCTION


What should you do when faced with a problem? This question could be viewed philosophically, but for the purposes of this editorial, I propose to view it is as a commercial question.


CONTEXT


If a new competitor emerges in your operating area, you are ultimately faced with two options: act or do nothing. There is a risk associated in doing either option, however, by doing nothing you are handng over your control of the situation to your new competitor who will have the opportunity to take advantage of your complacency.


Put another way, if you notice that you have a cracked tooth, it is likely that if left untreated, the tooth will decay and could ultimately lead to the tooth needing to be pulled or a dreaded root canal. I am particularly fond of this metaphor, as a filling is relatively inexpensive in comparison to a root canal or extraction and can solve the problem of the cracked tooth. If left untreated the cost of addressing the issue is likely to rise, often significantly.


The purpose of the cracked tooth scenario above is to high- light to potential risk of failing to react to a problem. Sometimes, when we react to the cracked tooth, it is too late to save the tooth and we are left with damage control.


The purpose of this editorial, is to address some of the prob- lem(s) operators may face, but often fail to address in a timely manner. For the avoidance of doubt, the problems I am refer- ring to can also be called disputes, as they often derive from differences of opinion, but if left unactioned have legal con- sequences.


DISPUTES AND PRIVATE HIRE OPERATORS


As you are no doubt aware, the landscape the modern private hire operator faces is a competitive minefield, where the operator may often feel it is them against the world.


It may be hard to argue against this point of view, given an operator may have to face: local licencing authorities, private hire and hackney drivers, competitors, vehicle hire and maintenance, account customers, customers, passengers, complaints, accounting issues and taxation, in an ever changing legal environment.


A dispute can potentially arise from (but not limited to) any of the above. In certain cases it is inevitable that disputes will arise, especially when an account customer or driver owes the operator money but is disputing the value.


Most disputes can be resolved through effective communication or negotiation to resolve the dispute before it turns into a larger issue. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, negotiations break down and neither party is willing to concede.


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Where a dispute, like the above becomes a “cracked tooth”, is when legal proceedings are threatened or commenced.


THE “CRACKED TOOTH”


Legal proceedings can commence in a variety of ways depending on the nature of the issue in dispute.


For example, civil claims for breach of contract will require a ‘letter of claim’ (not to be confused with a claim form) to be sent by the claimant (the person issuing proceedings) to the respondent (the person the claim is against).


Employment disputes are often heralded by an invitation to ‘early conciliation’ by the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitra- tion Service (ACAS) or a claim form from the Employment Tribunal.


DO NOT IGNORE ANY CORRESPONDENCE FROM A COURT OR TRIBUNAL


If you receive communication from a tribunal or court, seek professional assistance at the earliest possible moment. These issues do not disappear. This can only be dealt with through alternate dispute resolution outside of court or by being tried in court.


You may decide to handle these issues on your own, do so with extreme caution, as the law can often be ambiguous and requires an in depth understanding of statute and common law. If you decide to instruct a professional, well into proceed- ings, they may be faced with damage limitation as opposed to resolving the issue, as with the “filling” above.


Seeking professional help may seem an unnecessary expense at first, but it may save considerable amounts compared to the alternative.


Should you have any queries, please contact Connor Nolan at TaxiLaw on 01743 298460 or email admin@taxilaw.co.uk


PHTM EXPO


We will be exhibiting at the Expo on the 14th and 15th September 2021 and will be on stand 7.


Should you have any questions or would like to meet our team in person, feel free to stop by.


I will be collaborating with Gary Jacobs of Eaziserv on Wednesday 15 September 2021 at 11.30am, to give a seminar in relation to the challenges


the private hire operator faces post Uber ruling. SEPTEMBER 2021


T A X I Law


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