Uber wins latest legal battle to renew London operations

28 Sep 2020

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The mayor of London has said he will ‘closely monitor’ Uber after the ride-hailing company was granted a new licence to operate in the capital.

Having previously lost its licence to operate in London, Uber will now be able to offer its services in the city once more. According to the BBC, the ride-hailing giant has been granted a new 18-month licence to operate there after a judge upheld the company’s appeal regarding the Transport for London (TfL) decision in November 2019.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that Uber was a “fit and proper” operator “despite historical failings”. The decision now means that approximately 45,000 Uber drivers operating in London can once again offer their services.

TfL argued last year that more than 14,000 of the trips operated in London by Uber were taken with uninsured drivers. In these cases, someone other than the booked driver had picked up passengers who had ordered an Uber through the app.

A total of 14,788 rides were completed on the accounts of 24 drivers who had shared them with 20 other drivers, the court was told. Uber said that this practice is not allowed and that it “could have done better” to respond.

Uber has been ‘an improving picture’

London mayor Sadiq Khan said that while he acknowledged that the company has made improvements in customer safety, he still felt TfL was “absolutely right” not to renew Uber’s licence last year.

“I can assure Londoners that TfL will continue to closely monitor Uber and will not hesitate to take swift action should they fail to meet the strict standards required to protect passengers,” he said.

TfL originally decided not to renew Uber’s licence back in 2017, but the company won a 15-month licence extension in June 2018 following a court case. It was given a two-month extension in September 2019, but once this expired TfL again decided not to renew it.

Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said that despite a “track record of regulation breaches”, Uber has been “an improving picture” that is “fit and proper” to operate.

“I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more,” he added.

Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said the decision is a “recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety” and that the company “will continue to work constructively with TfL”.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic