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What’s in a Telephone Number?

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

In refusing to allow a taxi firm to use a telephone number relating to an office outside the area in which its vehicles and drivers are licensed, a High Court judge has emphasised Parliament’s intention that taxi services should be local in character.

Blue Line Taxis (Newcastle) Limited had argued that the telephone number – 0191 262 6666 – represents a vital part of its goodwill and branding and that a licensing condition preventing its use by the company for the purpose of taking bookings from the public amounted to an improper interference with its commercial freedom.

However, dismissing the company’s appeal against a district judge’s refusal to overturn the condition, Mr Justice Hickinbottom said that ever since hansom cabs were first regulated in the 19th Century it had been the policy of the law that taxi services should be ‘inherently local’ and that bookings must be taken and vehicles dispatched from premises within a single licensing area.

The company, its vehicles and drivers were all licensed by the Council of the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne which was entitled to impose an embargo on the company’s use of the telephone number because it related to an associated office within the neighbouring licensing area of North Tyneside.

The requirement that the two offices must use separate telephone numbers was a legitimate means of maintaining the distinction between them as well as proper regulatory control over each of them in the hands of the licensing authorities for the areas in which they are situated, the judge ruled.

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