Bilking is depriving a cab driver of his wage. It is an offence. Taxi business is a driving profession that drives a long mile with trust. The customer trusts the driver to take them safe and comfortable from point A to point B.
Taxi driver trusts the customer will pay for his services at the end of the journey. But, what happens when the trust breaks down?
Taxi industry is aware of these problems and tries to resolve this issues. It is trying to resolve these issues in co-ordination with the local authorities. Yet, to what extent it has been successful in its objectives still remains a big question. A taxi driver is vulnerable. He is helpless when such a bilking situation occurs.
Bilking – Is it a criminal or civil matter
The taxi industry has observed the debate on Bilking. Often the taxi driver has informed by some of the police that bilking is a civil matter. But, it is not. The law is quite straightforward. If a passenger refuses to pay the fare or elope away without the payment then, it is certain to be a criminal offence.
According to law, if a passenger runs away without paying then it is an act of theft under section – 3 of the theft act 1978. “Making off without payment”. If a passenger takes a journey in a taxi without having the money to pay
Does not inform the driver of this until the final destination then,
It is an offence under Section 11 of the Fraud Act 2006 – Obtaining services dishonestly.
If the passenger refuses to pay, this would also considered an offence under Section 11 of the Fraud Act.
There is no ambiguity in the two pieces of legislation stated above. The offences are a police matter and not a civil matter.
How do you deal with the offence?
Never hold the passenger locked them inside the vehicle. This puts you at risk of charged with false imprisonment under the civil law. As a taxi driver ensure that no offence has taken place until the passenger has left the vehicle.
As soon as the passenger has left the vehicle you can make a citizens arrest. You need to inform the passenger of this and also of the offence that they have committed. You can use reasonable force to hold the person before handing them over to the police. This also seem to be a tricky situation. You may find yourself open to charges of assault.
The next tricky part if when passenger offers to make a part payment for the fare. This situation then becomes a civil matter and not a criminal one. This only applies if the passenger also provides their correct name and address only.
CCTV or utilising a voice record function on your mobile phone can keep you in a safer position. You can show the incident to the police or any concerning authority to prove that you have not committed a crime.
Finally, always report the incident to the police. Inform the taxi association and the licensing department of the situation. They may try to help you out in an other way.
Disclaimer: The article is not a legal advice. It is to help a taxi driver with minimal information only.