Ruling due on whether Uber will regain licence to operate in London

Joanna Estrada
September 28, 2020

Business campaign group London First said Monday's decision was "good news for millions of Londoners and visitors who rely on Uber to get around the capital".

Last November, London's transport authorities said that they would not renew Uber's license to operate in the British capital after thousands of trips were made with someone other than the booked driver.

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

It follows a four-day hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court earlier this month.

It found a change to Uber's systems had allowed unauthorised people to upload their photos to legitimate driver accounts, enabling them to pick up passengers.

The judge has directed lawyers in the case to make submissions about what conditions should be attached to Uber's new operating licence and the length of it. TfL originally refused to renew Uber's licence in September 2017, following which the company won a 15-month licence by a judge in June 2018 after taking that case to court. Uber's regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said: "It was not what we would do now".

The judge in the case said he had taken into account Uber's record "on breaches of regulations and impact on public safety", adding that "public confidence in the licensing regime is a clear consideration". The ruling this week ends uncertainty for around 45,000 drivers who use the taxi app in London.

However, of more lasting significance will be the case heard by the supreme court in July. This will have significant implications on the rights of the estimated 5.5 million gig economy workers in the United Kingdom - a number that is likely to grow as the coronavirus crisis forces significant numbers of people out of work.

Bates Wells associate Rachel Mathieson told Personnel Today: "One of the key issues is that if they are workers, when are they workers?"

"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", Khan said. "Uber's position is that there is no working time essentially".

Anna McCaffrey, senior counsel, Taylor Wessing, underlined that Uber still had work to do to convince TfL that it had changed its ways.

"Over the past year, we have made a range of safety-related improvements, not just in London but across the United Kingdom, including Real Time ID Check for all drivers, an emergency assistance button, and our first-ever 24 / 7 support line".

Uber was granted a two-month extension to its licence in September past year, but in November TfL decided not to grant it a new licence. Uber says its drivers are self-employed independent contractors.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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