Wednesday, 30 May 2018

And So It Begins....Visa Doubles Transaction Charges to 8%

£1bn assault on the High Street: Shopkeepers suffer as Visa hikes fees on card payments. Unfortunately, this will give the green light to increase transaction charges for Taxi drivers taking Card payments. 

It's estimated that shopkeepers will pay £1billion extra a year to payments giant Visa after it hiked fees.

The increase comes as the Taxi trade faced a boom in customers who want to pay by card.

But what many passengers don’t realise is that every transaction costs the driver, and Visa has been accused of cashing in, by hiking its fees.

Card sharks: Taxi drivers have seen a massive increase in customers who pay by card for even the cheapest journeys meaning that drivers with company's that charge the extra 20p on top of the transaction percentage, pay even more in fees

Experts warned that some will see their bills more than double. 

Obviously it's not just Taxis who will be affected, payments consultant CMSPI said that increased card costs will hit Europe’s shops for £2billion.

In the UK alone, which has embraced contactless cards and chip and pin, the bill will be £1billion.

Visa Europe has doubled charges since 2015 from an average 4p per transaction to 8p, says CMSPI. 

Firm’s crippling £26,750 card bill 
Hardware store owner Vin Vara says his firm is struggling because of huge bills from credit card companies.
Vara, 58, employs 38 people at 11 Tool Shop stores in London and lost £20,400 in fees last year as shoppers paid by credit card. 

Some 60 per cent of customers pay by card and he expects the bill to rise to £26,750 this year.
He said: ‘People don’t understand the damage this can do. I’m scared for others on the High St about what’s going to happen to them.’
It used to keep just 1.5p of this as profit but now takes 5p after cutting costs, the consultant said.

CMSPI chief executive Brendan Doyle said: ‘This is incredibly disappointing. Visa, a multinational that consistently reports profit margins in excess of 50 per cent on multi-billion-dollar revenues, is piling cost after cost onto retailers and the latest change will be particularly hard on struggling small businesses.’ 

He added that CMSPI will complain to the European Commission about the hike.

Visa has become more aggressive since it was bought by its US sister firm for £15billion in 2016.

Until then, Visa Europe had been owned by banks, including Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, and they made billions from its sale to namesake Visa Inc. 

The American company’s chief executive Charles Scharf plotted to hugely increase fees – in 2015, he said he hoped to ‘expand yields in Europe’.

MPs and business groups called for regulators to step in.

SNP MP Stewart Hosie, of the Treasury Select Committee, said: ‘It’s a scandal card issuers’ fees have increased massively. I would hope and expect card issuers would think again before they impose these costs.’

Meanwhile, High Street retailers face average hikes for UK card fees of 75 per cent, and other European card costs will come close to trebling with an increase of 189 per cent.

James Lowman of the Association of Convenience Stores said: ‘We encourage the Payment Systems Regulator to look closely at these fees to ensure fairness.’

Andrew Cregan, at the British Retail Consortium, also backed intervention by the regulator.

Visa said: ‘The figures quoted are misleading and over-inflated. Our pricing means we can invest in world-leading cybersecurity and consumer protection, in innovation such as contactless and mobile payments, and in providing a global network which enables billions to make purchases safely, securely and reliably.’

In the past, we've seen many retailers refuse to take Amex because of the time it takes them to pay up. 
We could now see the same exclusion notices regarding payment with Visa cards.

The London Taxi trade haven't been granted the right to choose how they are paid as our largest org says "it was a done deal'....and it was the drivers who were done!

The trade were promised a increase in bums on seats and a massive publicity campaign from just never happen. 

Mike Brown Apologises For ‘Ill-Judged’ Expansion Of Cycle Superhighway, Blamed For Gridlock And Increased Pollution

Farce of the cycle super highways: London transport chief apologises for ‘ill-judged’ expansion that’s blamed for gridlock and increased pollution

             Mike Brown                    Will Norman

Britain’s most powerful transport tsar has now admitted that the the speedy expansion of controversial cycle ‘superhighways’ has actually slowed traffic for motorists.
Mike Brown, the commissioner for Transport for London, criticised the cycle lane expansion in London as ‘ill judged’ and ‘ill thought through’.

He apologised to motorists who say that the segregated cycle lanes are exasperating traffic problems.

Mr Brown, who is a passionate supporter of cycle lanes, said that they had been hurried through under Boris Johnson during his eight-year tenure as London mayor.

Cycling groups, council chiefs and safety campaigners said that the lanes would reduce congestion and pollution - which causes thousands of premature deaths in Britain every year - and that they make the roads safer.

But in practise, the lanes have infuriated most drivers who claim they are stuck in traffic for longer because part of the road has been taken over by bikes. 

Now, Mr Brown's attack on one of Mr Johnson’s flagship policies will likely spark more contentious debate about the further roll out of cycle lanes around the country.

LBC Radio host Nick Ferrari – who claims cycle superhighways have caused the biggest slow down in traffic since the Luftwaffe bombed London in the Second World War - was hosting a debate in London where Mr Brown made his controversial comments. 

Mr Brown said: ‘I apologise absolutely for the way cycle lanes were delivered in the last mayor’s administration’ .

‘I think it was ill-judged, it was too fast and ill thought through in the speed in which it was done, which I’m afraid is the main downside of living in a democracy – people want to do things in their term

But Mr Brown also insisted that that the routes have helped save ‘many, many lives’ and made the roads safer for cyclists.  

Fourteen cyclists were killed in London in 2013 but this tragic number dropped to eight deaths in 2016.

Despite his clear concerns, TFL has now insisted that Mr Brown's negative comments about the cycle infrastructure actually referred to the disruption caused by roadworks as too many lanes were built at the same time - and not to any traffic after they were operational.

But the criticism will provide ammunition for those who believe that cycle lanes being built all over Britain are making the roads more congested by reducing space for motor traffic.

Critics claim that this may actually increase  air pollution as cars are stuck on the roads with their engines running for longer as they idle in traffic.

Will Norman, Sadiq Khan's new cycling tsar wants to diversify cycling  to stop London's cycling routes being overwhelmed by middle class men
And so-called 'mamils' (middle-aged men in lycra) were another target for criticism of a burgeoning British cycle culture.

Mamils are dominating the cycling scene in London, leading to a false perception that cycling is not for everyone, Will Norman, Sadiq Khan's new cycling tsar claimed.

Too few females and people from ethnic minority backgrounds are taking to two wheels around the capital and the Mayor's office could introduce 'diversity targets' to combat the figures.

Despite millions being pumped into the cycling infrastructure in London the majority of those making use of it are middle aged men.

At present, black, Asian and minority ethnic groups account for about 15 per cent of cycled journeys in London – around two-thirds less than Transport for London (TfL) estimates it could be. 

Mr Norman told The Independent: 'There is a problem with cycling and the way it is perceived of getting middle-aged men cycling faster around the city, which is not the objective at all.

'It touches on something which is a real challenge for London cycling, which is diversity.'

Too many cyclists in London are middle-aged men according to the city's new cycling chief

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he would make cycling safer around London.

However, members of the London Assembly said it is not being done quickly enough.

Now Mr Norman said more groups should be benefitting from the changes made.

He added: 'Even when we have seen the growth in the number of cyclists, we haven't seen that diversity.

'There are a number of reasons for that. One is that safety is paramount for getting different people from different walks of life cycling: older people, younger people, those from different backgrounds.'

The way in which the gap will be filled, Mr Norman says, is through projects such as promoting electric bikes, cycling courses and grants for community groups who do not typically cycle.

Schemes could be rolled out across London to diversify the cycling scene. (Pictured: One woman cycles among a pack of men)

There was a six per cent recorded rise in female cyclists after the opening of Quietway 1, which links Waterloo with Greenwich, from 29 per cent to 35 per cent.

Mr Khan promised an average of £169m annually for cycling schemes over the next five years.

'Is it ambitious enough in the longer term? I think we need a higher level of change,' Mr Norman told The Independent.

'The target that we have set out in the mayor's transport strategy is over that 25 years we want to shift to 80 per cent of journeys to be walking, cycling or by public transport.

'That is a much more ambitious target and really is fundamentally rethinking the way that we move around our city.

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Saturday, 26 May 2018

Cross Border Hiring By Gerald Gouriet QC

Summary: cross border hiring & localism

“Cross border hiring” is a portmanteau expression covering a miscellany of different activities, some of which are lawfully undertaken, others unlawfully. There is no case law to the general effect that cross border hiring of PHV drivers is per se lawful; and PHV licences may be conditioned so as to prevent cross border hiring from undermining local licensing control.

The ‘Right to Roam’

The licensing requirements of PHV drivers and their vehicles, and the exemptions therefrom, are different from those made of PHV operators. The so-called ‘right to roam’ (insofar as it is a right) applies to PHV drivers and vehicles – not operators.
PHV drivers and vehicles
Outside Greater London the owner of a vehicle may not use it as a private hire vehicle in a controlled district unless the vehicle is licensed under section 48 LGMPA 1976: section 46(1)(a). Nor may the vehicle be driven otherwise than by someone licensed under section 51: section 46(1)(b). It is also an offence for the owner of a vehicle to employ as a driver someone who is not so licensed: 46(1)(c).
No offence under sections 46(1)(a), (b) or (c) is committed in respect of the use of a vehicle in controlled district A  if a driver’s licence and a vehicle licence issued in controlled district B are in force: section 75(2).  All three licences, however, (operator’s, driver’s and vehicle), must be issued by the same authority: Dittah v Birmingham City Council [1993] RTR 356.
The so-called “right to roam” of PHV drivers and vehicles derives from section 75(2). The right is not unqualified: PHV drivers and vehicles may not ply for hire, and may only fulfil a booking accepted by an operator licensed by the same authority as licensed them: Dittah.
PHV operators
Section 80(1) LGMPA 1976 provides:
operate” means in the course of business to make provision for the invitation or acceptance of bookings for a private hire vehicle.
An operator may only make provision for the invitation or acceptance of PHV bookings in the controlled district in which he is licensed: LGMPA section 46(1)(d), applying section 80, subsections (1) & (2).
Section 75 of the LGMPA 1976 does not provide an exemption for operators (from section 46(1)(d)), equivalent to that which it provides for drivers and vehicles (from sections 46(1)(a), (b) & (c)). Thus, whilst drivers and vehicles may lawfully undertake journeys “which ultimately have no connection with the area in which they are licensed” (per Latham LJ in Shanks v North Tyneside BC [2001] LLR 706), lawful provision for the invitation or acceptance of bookings is anchored to the controlled district in which the operator is licensed.

Unlawful provision for invitation of bookings by PHV drivers

Whether or not provision has been made in breach of section 46(1)(d) is a question of fact. The following guidance emerges from the cases –
  • “It is simply a question of asking, in common sense terms, whether there has been provision made in the controlled district for invitation or acceptance of bookings”: Kingston Upon Hull City Council v Wilson(1995) WL 1082181, per Buxton J.
  • “There could well be provision for invitation of bookings in one place and for acceptance in another”: East Staffordshire BC v Rendell (1995) WL 1084118, per Simon Brown LJ.
  • “As the authorities clearly show, the main question is not where the act of accepting any particular booking or bookings take place, but where the provision is made”: idem
  • “The determining factor is not whether any individual booking was accepted, let alone where it was accepted, but whether the person accused has in the area in question made provision for the invitation or acceptance of bookings in general”: Windsor and Maidenhead v Khan [1994] RTR 87, per McCullough J.
If a PHV operator makes arrangements for drivers in his fleet to go to remote areas (i.e. other than the area of the authority that licensed the operator/drivers/vehicles) it may well be that, on the facts of a particular case, he is unlawfully making provision for the invitation of PHV bookings. If he has organised dedicated parking areas and pick up points for his drivers, and the means to let the public know they are waiting there and available for hire, it may be difficult to conclude otherwise.

Undermining local licensing control: revocation or refusal to renew licence

Section 62(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 gives a licensing authority power to refuse to renew (or revoke) an operator’s licence on the grounds that –
(a) he has committed an offence under the 1976 Act (or an immigration offence);
(b) he is otherwise not fit and proper to hold the licence;
(c) there is a material change of circumstances: or
(d) any other reasonable cause.
Even in circumstances that are otherwise lawful, a PHV operator who knowingly sends drivers in his fleet to work (exclusively or predominantly) in remote areas where they are not licensed, is vulnerable to having his operator’s licence revoked or refused renewal under section 62(1)(d) of the 1976 Act on the ground that he undermines local licensing control.  The threat to public safety (let alone the affront to local control) in the growing use of drivers who ‘shop’ to be licensed by authorities that demand only the lowest standards, so that they can work in an area where standards are higher but licences more difficult to obtain, is ample demonstration of “reasonable cause”. At least one PHV operator has been known to steer potential drivers to licensing authorities with minimal licensing criteria and low licensing fees.

Erosion of localism: licence conditions

The Courts have said that “the hallmark of the licensing regulatory regime is localism[1], and that “that the authorities responsible for granting licences should have the authority to exercise full control” over “all vehicles and drivers being operated … within its area.” [2]
In The Queen on the application of Delta Merseyside Limited and Uber Britannia Limited v Knowsley BC [2018] EWHC 757, Kerr J said –
I refrain from expressing any view on the point, but I am fortified in my conclusion in this case by the consideration that, in principle, a condition on a licence could be imposed which, if otherwise lawful, would require a fit and proper person who is a licence holder to abide by whatever restrictions are contained within a condition that are considered reasonably necessary to meet any perceived erosion of localism in the governance of PHV licensing.”


Although correction of the abuses of what may lawfully be done by way of cross border hiring may, as has frequently been said, require national legislative change, it is only necessary to enforce existing law to address some of the widespread concerns about unlawful cross border operations and the erosion of localism by some minicab firms and their drivers.

Gerald Gouriet QC

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