Uber judged ‘fit and proper’ to operate in London

A judge has ruled that Uber is “fit and proper” to hold an operating licence in London despite “historical failings”.

The ruling comes after Transport for London (TfL) had in November rejected the app’s application to continue trading in the capital, pointing to “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.

Judge Tan Ikram said in a written verdict: “Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV (private hire vehicle) operator’s licence.”

He invited lawyers in the case to make submissions about what conditions should be attached to the licence and the length of it.

TfL initially denied the licence, saying it had found a change to the company’s systems had allowed unauthorised people to upload their photographs to legitimate driver accounts, enabling them to pick up passengers.

Uber was allowed to continue operating in London while the appeal process was going on.

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”.

“Some breaches in themselves are just so serious that their mere occurrence is evidence that the operator is not fit and proper to hold a licence,” the judge said.

“I do not find this to be one of those cases.”

The judge said concerns about Uber’s systems and processes had now been “adequately addressed”.

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) gave a cautious welcome to the decision, saying it secured the jobs of 43,000 drivers.

However, it called for a break-up of the company’s operations in London, arguing there should be a limit on the number allowed to register for Uber in the capital.

Adam Tyndall, programme director for connectivity at business group London First, said: “This is good news for millions of Londoners and visitors who rely on Uber to get around the capital.

“As TfL recognised last year, Uber has taken significant steps to improve its operations and safety in London.

“This court ruling recognises these important enhancements to its service.”

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Uber is facing a separate legal battle over whether it should give drivers basic employment protections such as minimum wage and holiday pay.

The firm’s drivers are counted as contractors rather than employees.

But Uber’s directly-employed workers have also been feeling the impact of the coronavirus crisis, with the company revealing earlier this year that it was cutting a quarter of staff.

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