Judge To Rule Whether Uber Deserves New London Licence

Ruben Fields
September 30, 2020

London Mayor Sadiq Khan reported that although Uber has made advancements to receive back its license, the organization will still be carefully inspected.

The company was successful in overturning a previous TfL decision not to renew its licence in September 2017. TfL has also vowed to keep a close eye of Uber as it continues to operate in London.

Uber, which is based in San Francisco, California, had been allowed to continue operating in London until the appeal process was completed.

Uber was stripped of its licence in the city for the third time last November, with London's transport regulator highlighting a "pattern of failures" and "several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk".

Uber challenged the decision in a four-day hearing held at Westminster Magistrates' Court earlier this month.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram ruled that the Silicon Valley-based company was "fit and proper" to operate in the United Kingdom capital, despite "historical failings". However, the fact that the length of extension is up for debate, rather than securing Uber's preferred five-year licence, demonstrates that Uber will have to work hard to continue to prove to TfL and the Court that it has really changed.

Detail of a man holding up an Honor 20 Pro smartphone with the Uber transport app visible on screen, while taxis queue in the background, on June 4, 2019.

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It was granted an 18-month license that comes with "a number of conditions" that will allow TfL to "closely monitor Uber's adherence to the regulations and swiftly take action if they fail to meet the required standards".

Anna McCaffrey, senior counsel, Taylor Wessing, underlined that Uber still had work to do to convince TfL that it had changed its ways. But the magistrate said he found no evidence of Uber attempting to cover up "the driver photo fraud issue". Uber, which has thousands of drivers in the city, continued operating during the battle. But the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, which represents London's licensed black cab drivers, called the decision "a disaster for London".

London is one of Uber's biggest markets worldwide, with 3.5 million users and 45,000 drivers in the city. This technique was utilized in a minimum of 14,000 journeys, in response to TfL, and within the intervening months Uber has deployed new facial recognition know-how to confirm drivers.

McNamara said the judge had set a "very low bar" considering Uber's track record.

Uber "does not have a flawless record, but it has been an improving picture", the court said.

Unite, representing almost 1,000 London taxi drivers, said the decision is "devastating" news for cabbies and customers.

Transport for London chose in 2019 to not renew Uber's working license over security issues. Advertisement TfL revoked Uber's license in November for the second time after it said drivers were using fake identities to pick up passengers.

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