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Harold – “I successfully challenged a councils’s taxi licensing decision in court and got my taxi licence”

Harold recently contacted our helpline for some advice after his local council refused him a taxi licence due to the non-disclosure of his historic convictions.

He explained that as his convictions were from 30 years ago, he’d assumed that they were spent and therefore didn’t need to be disclosed. Immediately he became aware that his convictions had been disclosed on his enhanced DBS certificate he’d contacted the council and asked for the opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding them. This had been refused.

Believing that the council had acted unfairly in not allowing him the chance to explain his omission, Harold appealed to the magistrates court and had been given a date for a hearing. He was looking for some advice on how he could demonstrate that he should be given his taxi licence.

We advised Harold that as he had more than one conviction, they would not be filtered from his enhanced certificate. Although he’d made a mistake in assuming that his convictions wouldn’t show up on his DBS certificate, it was likely that the council would have seen this as a ‘breach of trust’. This was likely to have contributed to their decision to refuse his taxi licence.

We suggested to Harold that he:

  1. Make it clear to the court that he wasn’t trying to hide his convictions from the council. His non-disclosure was as a result of his lack of understanding around the disclosure laws.
  2. Explain that his convictions were historic (over 30 years old) and not relevant (minor and not a safeguarding issue) and should therefore be disregarded with regards to his taxi licence application.

Harold contacted us several weeks later to tell us that the magistrates had found in his favour and he had been granted his taxi licence. He also stated that the magistrates had been critical of the council for not letting him discuss his historic convictions prior to declining his application.

Harold said:

“I never intended to deceive the council, I was sure that as my convictions were so old I didn’t need to disclose. I was amazed when I wasn’t given the opportunity to explain my convictions and my application was dismissed out of hand. The advice I received from Unlock and the sensible attitude taken by the court meant that I’ve now got my taxi licence.”


This case demonstrates that where you have the evidence to support your case, it is possible to successfully overturn a council’s decision through the courts. The rules around disclosure can be complicated and it’s not always the case that non-disclosure is a deliberate attempt by an individual to hide their criminal record. In Harold’s case the court were very critical of the council’s decision not to give him the opportunity to disclose his convictions once they’d been revealed on his enhanced DBS certificate.


Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

Published September 2019

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