If wedding cars do proms what are the problems?

As promised we have taken considerable time to answer the vexed question which so many of you have asked in relation to school proms, parties and any other function you could use your wedding cars for. So here goes with what we hope is the definitive answer.

If I do Proms, Anniversaries or any other work in my unlicensed Wedding Car what are the possible problems?

 Firstly if you are fully licensed by your local authority and have full private hire and reward insurance (not wedding hire insurance) then you have no problems at all provided the car is safe and roadworthy and is being driven by a fully local authority licensed private hire driver. The driver must be licensed by the same local authority as the cars.

The potential problems lie with being unlicensed, they fall into three main categories

      1. The local authority

      2. The Police

      3. Civil action (having an accident with passengers on board)

1. The local authority have inspectors who go to proms and the like, in order to check licences and they report back to their authority that they have caught you breaking the law. The Authority have several courses of action they can take. The most unlikely is to just issue you with a written warning, more likely is that they will bring a prosecution in the magistrate’s court for working unlicensed and finally they could report you to the police for illegally carrying fare paying passengers whilst unlicensed and uninsured. (You will be uninsured as wedding insurance only covers the carriage of passengers in connection with a wedding). If you have obtained full private hire and reward insurance it will only cover fully licensed vehicles driven by fully licensed drivers ergo without all the licences in place, valid and issued by the same authority, the full private hire and reward insurance will be repudiated by your insurance company.

2. The police will take a far more robust view and will definitely prosecute. If at the time of the offence they realise the vehicle you are using is uninsured they will immediately impound it and you will not be able to retrieve it from them until you have produced a valid insurance certificate. To obtain a valid insurance certificate you would need to have the vehicle fully licensed by your local authority. The police won’t let you have it back until it is insured and you will have it tested and certified by the local authority which makes obtaining the correct licences almost impossible. Most local authorities won’t licence vehicles over five or seven years of age anyway. Impasse, the only way you might be able to ultimately get your vehicle back is through the courts – very expensive. Also remember every day that it is impounded the vehicle is racking up parking fees along with the cost of the original impounding, again very expensive. The final outcome could well be that you don’t get the vehicle back and it will be scrapped or sold to cover the fees. Needless to say for driving without insurance you will have your driving licence suspended for at least six months and that’s on top of very heavy fines. Very few if any local authorities, at a later date, would be prepared to licence you for private hire with that on your driving record.

3. Civil action is the worst case scenario. If you have a serious accident with passengers onboard and one or more is maimed for life or god forbid there is a fatality you will get all the problems above together with a probable prison sentence as well, but that’s not all. The victim’s parents could well sue you in the courts and if successful it could mean you have to sell all your assets, including your house, to meet the damages and costs awarded. One point before anyone says rubbish. Third party and passenger cover will still be met by the insurance company as required by law even if your policy is repudiated, but in every case the insurance company will always pursue you through the courts to recover all their costs so the outcome is the same, you could lose everything.

The choice is yours. If you break the law you choose to accept the consequences!!

SOURCES.

Travis Morley Associates. Legal consultants to the Association (for their written opinion click here)

Peter James Insurance. Peter James is the insurance advisor to the Association


15 Comments

  1. tom dable says:

    if i do a prom just for the cost of use and the car is insured for proms is that illegle and what does being ortherised mean for drivers and cars

    • david says:

      Hi Tom

      It is illegal for any wedding car to do anything other than weddings unless they are licensed by their local Authority or VOSA. The cost of licensing varies from council to council but typically you would need an operator’s licence in the region of £150 to £200 per year. The cars would need testing by the authority, they won’t accept an MOT it must be their testing standards (usually tougher than the MOT). This would be in the region of £150 per car per year and if the car is ten years old or more then they may well insist on six monthly testing. Having managed to do all of that your drivers must also be licensed. To obtain a license they must have a medical, usually every three years, the cost being around £60 to £90. The driver must also have passed the Driver and Vehicle Standard Agency taxi/private hire driving test; these tests cost £80 during the day and £100 in the evening (after 1630). All drivers must also have a police records check, this is now called a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check (formerly a CRB check), for the enhanced check the cost is £44 per driver. As far as insurance is concerned your local authority may well insist that you have full hire and reward insurance and this is very expensive indeed. LAST BUT NOT LEAST if you go down this route and licence your vehicles only licensed drivers may drive a licensed vehicle. This means that if your wife wants to use one of the cars to drive to the supermarket she must be licensed!!!! There is no way round this.

      All of the above is the reason why we fought the Law Commissions proposal to make all wedding cars licence as Private Hire vehicles. If we were all able to do twenty journeys a day no problem but the majority of wedding cars only do around twenty journeys a year.

      If you do go down the route of licensing with your local authority we would like very much to know how you get on.

      • gary morgan says:

        I paid for all above. In total with insurance £1500. Only to be told my by licencing committee that my 1957 chevy was left hand drive and exempt from seatbelts they would not licence it. Bearing in mind a week earlier they licensed a left hand drive Hummer and all limo’s are left hand drive. Also our bus museum has psv buses with no seatbelts.

  2. Neil Andrew says:

    Having researched this quite extensively it would appear, in Scotland anyway, that there is a bit of a loophole.

    Please see:

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/45/section/22

    This section refers to vehicles excluded from private hire legislation; funeral and wedding cars appear as expected, as well as the interesting clause of ‘vehicles under exclusive hire for a period of more than 24 hours.’ 22(c)

    Best practice guidelines for councils ( http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0039/00391287.pdf ) also seem to encourage a more inclusive approach but, to date, I have yet to find a Scottish council that doesn’t trot out the usual ‘under 5 years old / 10 years old’ mantra.

    So – I will be making an appointment with my council to see what they have to say about this. I would much prefer to have our vehicles tested, CRB checks for drivers, but until the councils will see our industry differently to a fleet of private-hire Octavias, I am wondering if the 24-hour minimum hire period could be used instead.

    I don’t suggest that anyone tries this out, but I am wondering if anyone with legal experience could comment. Can I hire my Cadillacs out for proms as long as I make the hire term a minimum of 24 hours and 30 minutes, with a maximum mileage throughout the period?

    • david says:

      We in England and Wales are rather envious of the Scottish position. I believe in Scotland that any car is allowed to do one fare paying job in a seven day period without having to licensed. Several companies in Scotland offer Classic Cars for corporate events and don’t have to worry about using licensed vehicles so long as the cars they hire in have not done any work in the previous seven days. It is a situation that we would love to have here. In Northern Ireland the situation is ten times worse and it seems that taking your Granny to hospital and she pays for the petrol you have to be licensed. Now that is Draconian.

      • Neil Andrew says:

        David, I have a sneaking feeling that the seven-day, one-job PHV exemption is apocryphal. I can find no evidence of its existence in current legislation, either UK-wide or through devolved powers.

        I would certainly not rely on it, but if anyone can produce evidence I would be delighted to be proved wrong!

        I am, however, going to visit my local licensing office and see what they have to say about the 24hr+ exemption. Because the devolved powers are based on existing English legislation, I would not be surprised to find the same clause there. What I can’t find, thanks to the labyrinthian nature of the website that passes for open government, is the equivalent English document.

        That exemption is, I think, aimed at companies who offer chauffeur-driven contract hire for other companies (airlines, executive travel etc.) and the Scottish government essentially delegates the responsibility for checking driver and vehicle bona fides and suitability to the hirer.

        My interpretation is probably not within the spirit of the law, but it is certainly within the letter. That’s why it would be interesting to find the equivalent document for the rest of the UK govts. and have a competent lawyer comment.

  3. keith says:

    Does anyone know which council will except cars over five and less than seven years old

    • David Jones says:

      Hi Keith
      All councils have the right to accept whatever age of car they decide on. When I had my chauffeur company the local authority would accept up to ten years old and if I was to licence my wedding cars they would have to approve that each individual car was acceptable to them. They would expect an MOT and the car would also have to pass the rigorous “Taxi” test as well, being over the ten year mark they wanted the Taxi test twice a year (over £500 a year just in testing fees). That for me would have been a non starter as the majority of my wedding cars are vintage and up to ninety-two years old and could never pass such a test.

      There are two important points to remember about licensing wedding cars:
      1) Once a car is licensed it can only ever be driven by a person who holds a local authority Taxi Drivers Licence. This means if you wish a member of your family or anyone else to drive they have to hold such a licence, if anyone drove without the license you and they could be prosecuted, even to just go to the supermarket!
      2) Local Authorities will only grant licences if you reside in their area. I know of none that would issue an operators license to anyone living out side of their area.

      I’m sorry if this scuppers your plans. You will have to wait and see if the Law Commissions proposals are accepted and signed into law to see if anything changes as far as private hire is concerned – it could be a very long wait.

      David
      Chairman NAWCP

  4. blakey says:

    If the person you are taking to the prom in your classic car has not paid , offered to pay or not given anything as could be construed as payment then I can see no legal issue . As the person in the car at the time was taken to the prom for free . To prosecute for private hire then cash or monies need to have been exchanged.

    • David Jones says:

      No problem at all. You only need to licence if you accept payment. So taking a friend or neighbour’s daughter or son to a prom for free is perfectly OK. Taking money or payment in kind is definitely illegal

      • Jez Moore says:

        If you are using your wedding car to take someone to a prom or similar, even if no payment is received, then you should be licensed. The issue is around its use. The legislation refers to ‘sole use’ as a wedding car or funeral car. If you use it for any other purpose then it needs to be licensed.
        We have a big problem with people who hire out VW Campers or classic cars for self drive and then the owners use the same vehicles for driving people to weddings and doing proms. They need to be licensed.
        I have a couple of vehicles which I use for weddings, airport transfers, tours and proms so I have jumped through all the hoops and got licensed.

      • David Jones says:

        You seem to be saying that if you use your wedding car to take your friends or Grand-daughter to her prom or your Grand-parents to their 60th birthday party you have to licence the car, driver and obtain an operators licence.

        NOT SO. We have gone into this very thoroughly and as we see it there is no problem at all if you do not accept any payment. Licencing revolves around the word hire. Hire means supplying the use of something that you accept payment for with the anticipation of making a profit, so if no payment in cash or kind is received then there is no hire. It might doubtfully be considered hire if a contribution to fuel is made as there has been a slight clarification/change in the law relating to car sharing that a contribution to fuel cost and depreciation does not make the vehicle a hire car, provided that the owner/driver does not make a profit.

        If your local authority disagrees with us please give me their contact details so we can discuss it with them and if necessary get our Legal Eagle to confirm the above to them.

  5. james says:

    I do a number of jobs, including proms where the money, in full, is turned over to a registered charity. I don’t charge fuel or time so I make no profit. Should I still get some kind of PL insurance?

    • David Jones says:

      It would seem that what ever way look at it you are charging for the Prom etc., which is illegal without Private Hire licencing. The donation to the charity is a voluntary, personal or company donation which happens coincide with the amount you charged.

      You could seek legal opinion that if the payment is given to you by way of a cheque which is made payable directly to the charity or a bank transfer goes directly to the charity to see if you need licensing. Whatever, you will still need public liability insurance, so check with your vehicle insurance company to see if you are covered for this type of work and public liability.

  6. Peter Yeoman says:

    I would say there are MANY of us that are too small and the cars too unique and historical to justify the Local Authority`s requirements for licencing. Can we not find some way of changing from Funerals, Weddings to include Proms.
    I get inundated with requests for proms and the reply I get when I say unfortunately no, is’ I don’t want to send my child in a taxi with a driver in a sweaty t shirt and I would like something different.

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