Plying for hire.

PaulBishop made this Freedom of Information request to Transport for London

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by Transport for London.

Dear Transport for London,

Can you please publish your policy documents or legislation on the following; or if it is easier give me an explanation which would be equally acceptable?

1. Is a taxi driver plying for hire when then are parked up legally in a parking bay taking a break even though they have their taxi app switched on and are available to accept a job?

2. Is a private hire driver plying for hire when they are parked up legally in a parking bay taking a break even though they have their private hire app switched on and are available to accept a job?

3. Can you publish the legislation or tell me the part of the legislation which states a taxi driver is plying for hire when found standing in the street, but is not plying for hire when they are parked up legally in a parking bay?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Bishop

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Paul Bishop

 

Our ref: FOI-1030-2122/GH

 

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 19
August 2021 asking for information about plying for hire.

 

Your request will be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and our information access policy, and we will issue
you with a response by 16 September 2021. We publish a substantial range
of information on our website on subjects including operational
performance, contracts, expenditure, journey data, governance and our
financial performance. This includes data which is frequently asked for in
FOI requests or other public queries. Please check
[1]http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/transpar... to see if this helps you.

 

We will publish anonymised versions of requests and responses on the
[2]www.tfl.gov.uk website. We will not publish your name and we will send
a copy of the response to you before it is published on our website.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Graham Hurt

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

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FOI, Transport for London

1 Attachment

Dear Paul Bishop

 

Our ref: FOI-1030-2122/GH & FOI-1031-2122/GH

 

Thank you for your requests received by Transport for London (TfL) on 19
August 2021.

 

Your requests have been considered under the requirements of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 and our information access policy.

 

However, to be able to confirm whether we hold the information requested
and to then provide a full response would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’
of £450 set by the Freedom of Information (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
Regulations 2004.

 

Under section 12 of the FOI Act, we are not obliged to comply with
requests if we estimate that the cost of determining whether we hold the
information, locating and retrieving it and extracting it from other
information would exceed the appropriate limit. In this instance, we
estimate that the time required to answer your request would exceed 18
hours which, at £25 per hour (the rate stipulated by the Regulations),
exceeds the ‘appropriate limit’.

 

The requesting and provision of legal opinion and advice is conducted
within the general course of business and so there is no central
repository or reportable manner in which this information can be easily
obtained. In order to ascertain whether we hold any information in
response to your request we would need to manually review a significant
volume of correspondence to consider what, if anything, fits within the
scope of your request. This would be an extensive process for which it
would be difficult to determine at what point we could be satisfied that
we have exhausted all avenues of searching and therefore in a position to
provide a full response. As a result the cost limit would be significantly
breached.

 

It is perhaps also worth noting that the provision of legal advice is
generally considered for exemption in accordance with section 42 of the
FOI Act and so, even if it were found that information was held, it would
be likely that this exemption would be strongly considered and possibly
applied.

 

To help bring the cost of responding to your requests within the £450
limit, you may wish to consider refining your requests to concentrate on
matters which are important to you.

 

Although your request can take the form of a question, rather than a
request for specific documents, the Freedom of Information Act can only be
used to request recorded information. TfL does not have to answer your
question if it would require the creation of new information or the
provision of a judgement, explanation, advice or opinion that was not
already recorded at the time of your request. As previously explained, TfL
does not generally provide legal opinions externally, and any legal advice
which is held is likely to exempt from disclosure under section 42 of the
Freedom of Information Act.

 

If you are not satisfied with this response please see the attached
information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Graham Hurt

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

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Dear Transport for London,

I note that you did not include a calculation or explanation of the costs involved in providing the information. It would be useful if you could do so, to allow me to understand how best to reframe my request and not exceed the cost limit.
As I am sure you are aware, the FOI Act states that it is "the duty of a public authority to provide advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so", and the ICO consider it best practice to provide "arguments or evidence" when applying this exemption.

I would be grateful if you could offer me guidance into how I could best reframe the request in order to obtain as much of the information as possible, while bringing it below the cost limit.
As you may be aware, Section 16 of the FOI Code of Practice (https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...) advises that bodies should 'provide advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so' and ICO guidance (https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...) interprets this as a suggestion that the authority should provide suggestions of this nature.

Yours faithfully,

PaulBishop

FOI, Transport for London

TfL Ref: IRV-037-2021

Thank you for your email which was received by Transport for London (TfL) on 19 September 2021.

You have stated that you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

A review will be conducted by an internal review panel in accordance with TfL’s Internal Review Procedure, which is available via the following URL:

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/internal-revie...

Every effort will be made to provide you with a response by 15 October 2021. However, if the review will not be completed by this date, we will contact you and notify you of the revised response date as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Emma Flint
Principal Information Access Adviser
FOI Case Management Team
Transport for London

show quoted sections

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Mr Bishop

 

I am contacting you with regards to your email of 20 September 2021.
Following your email a review has been carried out by individuals who were
not involved in the handling of your requests (the panel). You have
disputed the response which was provided to your requests of the 19 August
2021 which advised that both your requests were being refused under
section 12 of the FOI Act due to the appropriate cost limit being exceeded
(FOI-1030-2021 / FOI-1031-2122).

 

You made 2 separate requests on 19 August 2021 asking the following -

 

FOI-1030-2122 -

 

1. Does TFL have a legal opinion or ordinary opinion that a taxi app job
offered to a taxi driver constitutes a booking? If so, can you please
publish this legal opinion or ordinary opinion?

 

2. If TFL agree the case of DPP v Comcab basically sets out that a taxi
hiring starts when the booking is accepted by the taxi driver then:

Has TFL sourced a legal opinion whether a taxi driver would be prosecuted
for starting the taximeter once the app booking has been accepted and the
taxi driver has started driving to the passengers pick up location?  If
so, can you please publish your legal opinion on this point?

 

3. Alternatively, does TFL have a legal opinion or ordinary opinion to
publish that shows the taxi driver is contracting with the app company and
at what point the taxi driver starts the taximeter after accepting the app
booking is a matter between the taxi driver and the app company?

 

4. Or a further alternative, does TFL have a legal opinion or ordinary
opinion to publish that shows it is unlawful for a taxi driver to start
the taximeter until the passenger has entered the taxi even though the
taxi driver has pressed accept and accepted the booking on the app some
considerable time earlier than picking up the passenger?

 

5. Lastly, how many taxi drivers has TFL prosecuted in the last 36 months
for charging  a fare above what has been showing on the taximeter when the
taxi trip fare is charged via an app?

 

FOI-1031-2122

 

Can you please publish your policy documents or legislation on the
following; or if it is easier give me an explanation which would be
equally acceptable?

 

1. Is a taxi driver plying for hire when then are parked up legally in a
parking  bay taking a break even though they have their taxi app switched
on and are available to accept a job?

 

2. Is a private hire driver plying for hire when they are parked up
legally in a parking bay taking a break even though they have their
private hire app switched on and are available to accept a job?

 

3. Can you publish the legislation or tell me the part of the legislation
which states a taxi driver is plying for hire when found standing in the
street, but is not plying for hire when they are parked up legally in a
parking bay?

 

To provide you with a little more context with regards to your request for
information, section 12 of FOIA allows a public authority to refuse to
deal with a request where it estimates that it would exceed the
appropriate limit to-

 

(a) either comply with the request in its entirety or;

(b) confirm or deny whether the requested information is held.

 

The estimate must be reasonable in the circumstances of the case and where
we claim that section 12 is engaged, we should, where reasonable, provide
advice and assistance to help the requestor to refine the request so that
it can be dealt with under the appropriate limit. The relevant Regulations
which define the appropriate limit for section 12 purposes are The Freedom
of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees)
Regulation.

 

Regulation 4(3) of the Fees Regulations states that a public authority can
only take into account the costs it reasonably expects to incur in
carrying out the following permitted activities in complying with the
request:

 

• determining whether the information is held;

• locating the information, or a document containing it;

• retrieving the information, or a document containing it; and

• extracting the information from a document containing it.

 

Additionally in such circumstances as may be prescribed, where two or more
requests for information are made to a public authority within a
consecutive 60 working day period-

 

(a) by one person, or

(b) by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting
in concert or in pursuance of a campaign,

 

the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to
be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them. We do not have
to make a precise calculation of the costs of complying with a request(s);
instead only an estimate is required. However, it must be a reasonable
estimate.

 

We do not have to make a precise calculation of the costs of complying
with a request; instead only an estimate is required. However, it must be
a reasonable estimate.

 

A realistic estimate is one based on the time it would take to obtain the
requested information from the relevant records or files as they existed
at the time of the request, or up to the date for statutory compliance
with the request. We are not obliged to search for, or compile some of the
requested information before refusing a request that we estimate will
exceed the appropriate limit. Instead, we can rely on having cogent
arguments and/or evidence in support of the reasonableness of its
estimate. However, it is likely that we will sometimes carry out some
initial searches before deciding to claim section 12. This is because it
may only become apparent that section 12 is engaged once some work in
attempting to comply with the request has been undertaken. If we do start
to carry out some searches without an initial estimate, we can stop
searching as soon as we realise that it would exceed the appropriate limit
to fully comply with a request and we are not obliged to search up to the
appropriate limit.

 

The information that you seek regarding legal opinions and/ or legal
advice regarding this subject matter is not information that, if held,
would be stored in a separate and singular repository that we can easily
access and locate what you are asking for. Any legal advice / legal
opinions shared between TfL employees would be provided as part of ongoing
email discussions between said TfL employees which could cover significant
periods of time as situations change and develop.  Therefore to try and
identify and locate this type of information we would need to run a
company wide email search using a search tool called eDiscovery. This
allows us to conduct company wide email searches using keywords, dates and
email addresses. The more specific a requester can be as to what they are
looking for, the more we can narrow the search and therefore stand a
better chance of a more relevant or focused result. eDiscovery will return
a volume of ‘hits’ and each ‘hit’ is a single email, although that email
will often consist of a chain of emails containing a keyword search term
at least once.

 

Using the information contained within FOI-1030-2122, the types of key
words we could use, for example, would be ‘taxi app’ or ‘taxi app
bookings’ and as you have not provided a time period for this information
to cover, any results returned could potentially span 7 years in line with
our retention policy regarding how long we retain emails for.  Therefore
the panel are more than confident that any searches of this nature would
return a result of tens of thousands of ‘hits’ – if not more.  These
results would inevitably contain vast amounts of information that is
irrelevant to your request as well as mass duplication.  However to
identify what information may be within the scope of your request, every
‘hit’ result would need to be manually reviewed, which clearly we would
not have the staff time or resource to do and would significantly exceed
to 18 hour time limit set out under FOIA.

 

To confirm, any searches would be conducted remotely by the FOI Case
Management Team. There is no other centralised process that could be
undertaken to collate information that would be relevant to your request
and it is for this reason that we recommend that requesters outline
clearly and concisely exactly the information that they require,
preferably making reference to specific documentation, as wide ranging
correspondence requests do often lead to concerns about the processing
time necessary to fulfil them. Due to the nature of correspondence
requests, it is often inevitable that a significant volume of information
not relevant to the specific subject matter is caught by a search by
virtue of commonly recurring keywords that are used to identify the
material. However, the process of reviewing and extracting the relevant
material caught by a remote email search and then collating it in response
to an FOI request is entirely manual and it is this process that leads to
the cost limit being breached.

 

Given all the considerations above the panel are satisfied that s12 has
been correctly applied to both your requests in their entirety. Finally as
s12 of the Freedom of Information Act is not a qualified exemption it does
not require consideration of the public interest test.

 

We appreciate that the above response may come as a disappointment
therefore when considering this review response and the all explanations
provided to you the panel suggest that if you wish to make a new FOI
request, you either greatly narrow the scope of the correspondence you
seek, provide narrow timeframes and consider what information is of a
priority to you at the stage. The framing of your  questions naturally
casts a wide net and it is a far better use of the resources available to
you under the FOI Act to be as narrow and specific as you are able to
allow a focused search for the information you are interested in and allow
us to assist you.

 

Correspondence requests by their very nature can incorporate large volumes
of information, much of which would be likely to be irrelevant or of very
limited interest or value. We encourage requesters to take into account
the guidance and advice provided by the Information Commissioners Office
(ICO) such as the “dos and don’ts” published on its website in order to
make the best use of the processing time available under the FOI Act. It
can be far more productive to request specific reports, documents or ask
direct questions rather than cast a wide email search as the burden
created by these can often result in consideration of an exemption on the
basis of the time required to complete.

 

The following link to the ICO website provides advice on how to make an
FOI request -
[1]https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/off...

 

Finally you should also bear in mind with any new requests you make for
legal opinion or legal advice they may be considered exempt by virtue of
s42 of the FOIA – legally privileged.

 

I hope the above response has provided a better clarity regarding the
information you seek, however if you are dissatisfied with the internal
review actions to date please do not hesitate to contact me or alternately
you can refer the matter to the independent authority responsible for
enforcing the Freedom of Information Act, at the following address:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

 

A complaint form is also available on the ICO’s website
([2]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Emma Flint

Principal Information Access Adviser

FOI Case Management Team

Transport for London

[3][TfL request email]

 

 

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