UBER has won a legal battle in the UK to restore its London operating licence, after a judge ruled on Monday(28) that the company was a fit and proper operator despite “historical failings”.
Transport for London (TfL) refused to grant the Silicon Valley-based company a new licence last year due to what it called a “pattern of failures”, including thousands of trips conducted where drivers other than those advertised picked up passengers.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who also chairs TfL, warned Uber to stick to its obligations.
“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 in a statement.
Soon after the judgement, London’s traditional black cab drivers have blocked streets in protest at what they see as a threat to their livelihoods.
In the court Uber argued that it has improved insurance document verification systems and rolled out real-time identification.
The US company was also denied a licence by TfL in 2017, in a major blow in one of its most important markets, before it was restored on a probationary basis.
“I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more,” Judge Tan Ikram said on Monday.
“Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London… operator’s licence,” he said, granting an 18-month right to take rides.
Shares in Uber rose 6 per cent in pre-market US trading after the decision.
“This decision is a recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety and we will continue to work constructively with TfL,” Jamie Heywood, Uber’s boss for Northern and Eastern Europe, said.
The association representing London black cab drivers said a judge’s decision to restore Uber’s operating licence was a “disaster” for the British capital.
“Uber has demonstrated time and time again that it simply can’t be trusted to put the safety of Londoners, its drivers and other road users above profit,” the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association said in a statement.
“By holding up their hands and finally accepting some responsibility, Uber has managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the court and create a false impression that it has changed for the better.”
In London, Uber faces a number of rivals, including Ola, Freenow and Bolt.