Westminster Magistrates’ Court has today upheld Uber’s appeal against Transport for London’s (TfL) decision not to renew its operating licence in London.
The Magistrate’s Court decision means that Uber is once again allowed to operate in London but only for an initial 18 month period.
Uber said in court that “This appeal is not an attack on TfL’s Decision. ULL now fully accepts that the Decision was justified. There was insufficient evidence before TfL at that time to satisfy it that ULL had identified and accepted its past mistakes, and done enough to address TfL’s proper consequential doubts as to ULL’s fitness and propriety. ULL (and the wider Uber group) have since acknowledged and apologised for their past mistakes and made far-reaching changes to address them. Thus, the task facing this Court is to judge ULL’s fitness and propriety now, in light of how it operates now, taking full and fair account of all the progress ULL has made since the time of the Decision, and given the strength of its commitments (and safeguards) as to how it will conduct itself in the future.”
TfL set out a wide range of issues in its initial decision notice. However Uber argued that “The steps that ULL has taken mean that the issues in this appeal have narrowed considerably since the Decision Letter.
“In essence, the Court is invited by ULL and TfL to consider whether, in light of the various changes ULL has made and committed to make and the issues set out in the Revised List of Issues, ULL is now a fit and proper person to hold a PHV operator’s licence. Both ULL and TfL take the view that this is a matter for the Court’s assessment alone in light of all of the evidence before it (and in particular new evidence, which was not before TfL at the time of the Decision).”
The particular issues in the appeal relate to ULL’s relevant changes and current processes addressing:
- Corporate responsibility in relation to issues having potential safety implications, particularly in the context of its previous approach to (a) reporting allegations of potentially criminal behaviour to the Metropolitan Police; (b) facilitating prospective drivers obtaining medical reports from Push Doctor between 22 August 2016 and 23 September 2016; and (c) facilitating prospective drivers obtaining enhanced criminal record checks through Onfido between approximately April 2016 and April 2017;
- The provision of information to TfL, particularly in the context of its past approach to providing information to TfL in respect of (a) the process by which bookings were accepted under its operating model; and (b) in respect of the potential misuse of “Greyball” technology in jurisdictions outside the United Kingdom;
- Certain further matters identified by TfL since the time of the Decision Letter principally in relation to other companies within the Uber group, namely (a) a breach of data security in late 2016 which affected Uber users in the United Kingdom; and (b) the use of “Ripley” software to remotely lock devices during unexpected visits by government departments in jurisdictions outside the United Kingdom.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court’ Chief Magistrate, on reviewing the evidence, found that Uber’s changes were sufficient to make it a fit & proper company to hold an operating licence in London. They were granted a 15 month licence and were required to complay with a series of conditions.