Uber wins judicial review of English tests for drivers and other new rules

Lynsey Barber
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Prospective London Taxi Drivers Prepare For The Knowledge Test
Uber is taking TfL to court over the new rules (Source: Getty)

Uber has succeeded in the first stage of its legal challenge against new rules on English language tests for drivers in London after the high court today approved a judicial review.

The billion dollar startup argues the English exam, which it claims is tougher than the test for British citizenship, is discriminatory and contravenes the Equality Act.

City A.M. exclusively revealed in August that Uber was launching a legal challenge against the new rules imposed by Transport for London (TfL).

Read more: Uber launches legal challenge over new London taxi rules

A high court judge today allowed a judicial review to go ahead and also gave the green light to a review of two other new rules - having to locate its customer service call centre in London and having to alert TfL of changes to its business model or app.

Uber will be able to challenge who the English language requirements should apply to, however, the court denied its challenge to the level of proficiency needed by drivers.

The tech company's challenge on other counts - requiring insurance that covers drivers when they are not working and the need to have a customer service telephone line - were also denied.

The rules on English tests and locating call centre staff in London were both due to come into force on 1 October but they will now be put on hold pending the outcome of the judicial review which is expected to begin in December.

“We’re pleased that the judge has decided this case deserves a hearing," said Uber London general manager Tom Elvidge.

Read more: London cabbies welcome a review of new Uber rules

"TfL’s plans threaten the livelihoods of thousands of drivers in London, while also stifling tech companies like Uber”.

A TfL spokesperson said: “We note that the court has refused permission for judicial review of the principle and standard of English language test, the requirement for hire and reward insurance and the ability for customers to speak to someone by telephone.

“The changes to private hire regulation were made to enhance public safety and we are determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market, with space for all providers to flourish. We look forward to the remaining issues being resolved in due course.”

Uber renewed a long running battle with the transport regulator last month after welcoming new rules earlier this year as a result of a major review of the taxi and private hire industries in London.

Uber had called on the Mayor of London and TfL to rethink the rules which it believes have become to onerous in their detail, and eventually turned to the courts.

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