Recent Submissions to the Law Commission

These submissions are either very well thought out or add a new dimension to the arguments.

The following submission was from member John Prescott to the Law Commission

Dear Sirs

Proposal to Licence Wedding Car Companies

I would be interested to learn of number of problems that have been encountered through wedding car companies not being licensed.  Perhaps you would advise and explain.

Unlike the taxi sector whose taxis operate 10/20 jobs a day per car, 5 days a week, a wedding car will only operate one job a day and then only once a week if he is lucky.  That is the nature of the business or better termed a hobby run by the car’s owner.  With this low volume of business, is it really necessary to subject wedding cars to an overkill policy of bureaucratic nightmares together with the unsustainable costs?  Each car owner is more often than not, a responsible elder who maintains a pride in his car and the wedding he operates.  He does not need to be regulated

Can I please urge you to review this situation with common sense before forcing all owners to hang up their steering wheels.

Finally, what proposals are being put forward to compensate the car owners as a result of the change in the law?  Please refer to the huge costs incurred by the government of the compensation paid out as a result of firearms licences being withdrawn a few years back.

Yours Faithfully

John Prescott

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The following submission was from member Graeme Fillmore to the Law Commission and copied to Norman Baker at the Department for Transport.

Dear Mr Baker,

May I object strongly to above proposed legislation, particularly provisional proposal 11 relating to wedding cars…? Whilst I, and others, see the need for tighter controls in the public hire and taxi services for public protection, this should not effectively kill off an entire industry disadvantaging wedding couples and classic car owners.

Classic cars are often used for weddings and they are the choice of a lot of discerning couples who would like to enjoy a unique experience on their most important day. Provisional Proposal 11 will make this choice impossible in almost all circumstances. Classic cars (vintage 1950′s to 1970′s) are unlikely to meet the stringent requirements for public hire, and logically, for the amount and type of use that they have, there should be no need for them to do so.

If Proposal 11 is not dropped from the legislation, then the following consequences are likely to follow:

  • Prohibitive costs will put most small companies who run classic cars for weddings out of business
  • Most companies like us provide a service of less than 60 days of the year,we do about half of that.
  • Our cars cover less than 1500 miles per annum (unlike taxi’s and PHV covering this in a week or two)
  • Drivers work less than 15 days a year
  • It will cost £261 to licence each car, provided the cars ‘pass’ first time and do not require adaptations to be fitted. We have three wedding cars in our fleet.
  • The cost to us for registration as a licensed ‘Operator’ will be £200.
  • Each of our three drivers will cost £400 to become licensed. This includes a DSA driving test, a medical, a CRB check and a ‘local knowledge test’ all to do less than 10 weddings a year!
  •  Some Local Authorities may refuse to licence a vehicle if it is more than 5 years old – the average age of our cars is 42 years
  • Once licensed, a car can only be driven by a licensed driver, which means we owners of classic cars would have to be licensed, just to go to the shops, or to a classic car show or promotional event – some of which are for charity
  • Putting wedding cars businesses out of work would severely depress the market for classic cars as so many would hit the market at the same time. This would also have a huge consequential effect on the classic car parts and repairs service / supplies businesses. I have just spent £6000 to have a replacement engine and gearbox built and fitted for one of my cars to improve it for the benefit of my business – these funds have been generated through hard work, and will take years to recover, if this legislation does not come into force.

Most people I speak to, see the need to regulate the private hire industry for all the right reasons, however no one I know can see why this should include the minimal use of classic cars for weddings doing a fraction of the work. We are required to have specific wedding insurance, MOT’s and already maintain our vehicles to a high standard – this is a completely unnecessary step and entirely in contradiction to the recent relaxation of MOT requirements for pre-1960 vehicles.  For the common good, and if for nothing other than plain common sense, I implore you to remove Provisional Proposal 11 from the legislation before it goes before the House.

Graeme Fillmore

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This Submission was from member Christopher Hill MBE to the Law Commission

REFORMING THE LAW OF TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE SERVICES  Response to Consultation Paper No 203 As a current vintage and classic wedding car provider I submit my comments (below) regarding the proposed change to legislation for the operation of wedding cars .  (Also submitted by e-mail on 2 August 2012)   Christopher David Hill MBE   Why Change the Current Exemption with Regard to Wedding Cars – What Evidence is Presented to Support the Change?

1. An assumption has been made that wedding car hire providers are part of the transport industry, and therefore the same rules must apply across the industry; thus, the consultation documents sights, “consistency across the transport industry” as a reason for no longer exempting wedding car operators from the revised legislation for taxis and private hire vehicles. I question the assumption that the wedding car industry is necessarily part of the transport industry and that the need for consistency is compelling justification for changing legislation when there is no other specific evidence presented that relates directly to wedding car operations.   The Difference: Transport Industry or Wedding Industry?

2. It can be argued that Wedding Car only operators, who tend in the main to operate vintage, classic or special interest cars, are not part of the transport industry but rather part of the Wedding Suppliers industry. Vintage and classic wedding cars are hired as part of the overall wedding ceremony not just a means of getting from A to B, as are taxis and Private Hire cars. Although mostly hired separately, the chosen vintage, classic or special interest wedding car is as much part of the wedding day and as iconic as the other special elements of the day, such as the bridesmaids, the ushers, the wedding dress, the cake, and the venue, to name just a few. Wedding cars are mostly selected for their iconic appearance and not necessarily for their ability to travel from A to B; the basis of the hire is the car as an icon, not as a means of travel – that tends to be a bonus. Indeed, some clients hire a special vehicle just for the car to be at the place of the ceremony for photos with the wedding party and do not travel in the vehicle at all.

2.1 Surely, there can be no justification for imposing the legislation of one industry on another, just because both industries have one common resource, the car without sound and compelling justification.   The Difference: Legislative Requirements

3. Legislation should reflect society’s wishes and requirements, while ensuring safety for the individual, but it should not stifle choice or the wish for style and substance.

3.1 If ‘Safety’ of the car is put forward as an argument, then this would be questionable; witness the current change coming in legislation in November 2012 that will exempt pre-1960s cars from the requirement for an annual MoT. It is believed by the legislature that vintage, pre-60s classic and special interest car owners will maintain their vehicles and keep them safe such that an MoT serves no purpose. Why then the belief by the Law Commission Review Team that vintage, classic and special interest wedding car operators should be any different? No evidence has been put forward to support this belief, rather an assertion seems to have been made that vintage, classic and special interest Wedding Car operators need to be regulated to ensure they maintain their vehicles in a ‘safe’ condition. No evidence for this assertion has been presented in the consultation document.

3.2 Vintage, classic and special interest wedding car operators are enthusiasts who wish others to enjoy their cars on very special occasions and most do not offer their cars for hire/use by the public for anything other than weddings. The institution of marriage is something special that this government fosters and encourages; over regulating wedding car hire providers will place a heavy financial, operational and practical burden on vintage, classic and special interest car providers that will serve only to eliminate wedding cars that, due their date of manufacture, cannot not fit precisely into the private hire car regulatory criteria. Why cause difficulty for those choosing to join the institution of marriage when there is no evidence to support the apparent need for a change in legislation?

3.3 The business model for Private Hire/Taxis is based on the vehicle and drivers operating on a 5 or 7 day basis to ensure appropriate revenue flow to ensure the additional costs for licensing the operation, cars and drivers can be covered. Wedding only cars, by definition, are very unlikely to be on the road every day throughout the year, more commonly just weekends during the spring, summer and early autumn. Furthermore, the overall operation of wedding cars is fundamentally different to that for Private Hire. Private Hire in the main is for the transportation of individuals from A to B; type, colour and quality of the car are not a factor that is generally considered in the hiring process. This is not the case for the operation of wedding cars. Brides tend to book a particular car due to its style, colour and overall appearance as part of the marriage ceremony, not just as a means of travel from A to B. Indeed, bookings tend to made many months and sometimes years in advance and normally following a viewing of the car to make sure it is the car of their dreams. So, clients are normally fully aware of what is being hired and have ample opportunity to consider all the facts regarding the car, the chauffeur and the operation well before the event takes place; it is most unusual for a wedding car hire to be initiated on the day of the wedding, as it would be with the initiation of private hire.

Impact of the Change in Legislation

4. Specialist wedding cars, by definition tend to be vintage, classic cars or special interest cars. Although they may be in perfect condition for their age, by virtue of their aged design, vintage, classic and special interest cars are likely not to meet Private Hire technical requirements: in particular, with regard to the need for seat belts, easy access and size of seating area. Consequently, vintage and classic cars will not, without extensive adaption, be eligible for a Private Hire licence. Furthermore, the significant cost and time involved for licensing each car, each chauffeur and the overall operation together with the cost of adapting each vehicle to meet the ‘Private Hire’ technical criteria, if indeed it is at all possible, would be prohibitive, and if passed on to the clients would make hire fees extremely high and economically unviable for most engaged couples. It is estimated that the total annual cost for an owner to hold an operator’s licence, driver’s licence and just one licensed vehicle would be around £600.00. Each additional car would cost around another £250.00 and if the owner were to pay for the licensing of drivers the cost would be around £300.00 for each driver. Additional chauffeurs are essential for the efficient operation of wedding cars; they tend to be around retirement age and as a consequence of their age they have the proper skills to drive vintage and classic cars.

4.1 Furthermore, vintage, classic and special interest vehicles, again by definition, tend to attract wider interest from the general public and consequently, those cars used as wedding cars tend also to attend vintage, classic and special interest shows and exhibitions around the country on a regular basis. If licensed as Private Hire vehicles, vintage, classic and special interest cars would not be in a position to continue to entertain the general public due to the restrictive terms of the Private Hire Licence on the car, the operation and the chauffeurs.

4.2 Consequently, it is quite clear that a change of legislation as proposed would drive most vintage and classic wedding car operators out of business as they just could not cope with the increase in overheads nor with the technical changes required to comply with private hire regulations. Furthermore, Wedding Car business models take this into account and hire fees for individual bookings during a short season determined accordingly. Overall yearly profit margins are slim. If legislation does change, the only ‘wedding cars’ then available would be modern cars that comply with the technical requirements for Private Hire; the very same style of car seen every day on the Private Hire circuit, not the cars most brides dream of for their wedding day. This would deny Brides and Grooms the opportunity to complement their wedding day with a special car, not normally seen on a daily basis   Conclusion

5. The Terms of Reference for the reviewing team state:   “To review the law relating to the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles, with a view to its modernisation and simplification, having due regard to the potential advantages of deregulation in reducing the burdens on business and increasing economic efficiency.”

5.1 It can be seen that with regard to Wedding Car only hire, a change in legislation such that the operators of wedding cars would be liable to the regulations pertaining to the Private Hire industry would increase the burden on business and decrease economic efficiency; a result contrary to that intended by the reviewing team.

Christopher Hill MBE

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