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Ubers appeal against TfL’s decision not to renew its operating licence has begun.

The case management hearing was held in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in last month (April).  During the case management hearing, Uber said it has sought to “repair and reform” its business.  It said lessons had been learned from extensive criticism by TfL.

TfL reportedly served a 21-page decision letter outlining in great detail the reasons why it would not be renewing Uber’s operating licence.

Uber said that its reaction has been one of repair and reform.

It told the court that: “It has accepted a large number of those criticisms made by TfL. It admits it has failed in many respects. It has apologised.

“It has made changes to the way it operates – it has changed its leadership, its directors.”

It is has been reported that TfL accepted changes had been made but felt it is really for the court to decide whether, in light of the changes made, Uber is fit and proper.

In a recent article by the Evening Standard, Tom Elvidge, Uber’s UK general manager, said: “We’ve made mistakes at Uber but now we’re on a new journey.”

He said, in response to the TfL decision: “…as we reflected on what had happened our initial response rightly changed — we had to look to ourselves rather than blame others. TfL’s decision soon became the latest wake-up call for a company that had grown incredibly quickly but still needed to grow up.”

Speaking about the work Uber have been doing since, he said: “Over the past year we’ve been working hard to put right past mistakes as we’ve gone through a much-needed period of reflection and change. Our new global CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is establishing a new culture and direction for the company from the top, while in the UK we’ve brought in three experienced independent directors to help us stay on the right track. If there are times when we fall short, we are committed to being open, taking responsibility for the problem, and fixing it.

“Crucially, we’ve spent the past few months listening and acting on the issues raised by passengers, drivers and TfL. First and foremost, the safety of drivers and passengers must always be at the core of everything we do. That’s why we’ve introduced limits on the number of hours drivers can use our app, and we’ll soon launch 24/7 phone support for the first time in the UK. Passengers now get more information about their driver before they get in the car — not just their name, photo, rating and registration number but their private-hire licence details too.

“These changes aren’t the end of the journey. I know we got things wrong and that we have more work to do. But I promise Londoners we will keep listening and improving as Uber moves forward in a new direction. Over the coming months we want to earn your trust.”

Last week (31 May 2018) Uber asked TfL for a 18 month licence “…to prove it was in a state of constant review.”  Uber allegedly said that if there are any further issues, TfL can simply refuse to renew its licence at the end of 2019.

Comment

From the above it is clear that Uber have been working hard to improve its practices, procedures and modus operandi but whether this will be enough to convince the court that they are (now) fit and proper to continue to operate in London remains to be seen.

The substantive hearing has been scheduled for the summer and no doubt Uber will continue to work on its “repair and reform”.  It told the court that it has already addressed the majority of the issues raised by TfL.

TfL’s view(s) on Uber’s progress will play a vital role in the outcome of Uber’s appeal.  TfL have reportedly acknowledged the progress Uber had made.  If by the time of the substantive hearing it is satisfied that sufficient progress has been made this will become a material consideration for the court to take into account.

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