Uber granted 15-month licence to operate in London after reforms to 'gung-ho' attitude

Alexandra Rogers
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Uber Loses Its Private Hire Licence In London
Uber was seeking an 18th month licence (Source: Getty)

Uber has been granted a renewed 15-month licence after it was found to have reformed its "gung-ho" attitude to business.

The ruling comes after a two-day hearing in which Uber attempted to persuade Westminster Magistrates' Court and TfL that while it may not have been a "fit and proper" operator nine months ago, it is now.

The licence is subject to conditions agreed with Transport for London (TfL) and include putting together an independently verified report every six months into how the company is progressing, as well as giving TfL a month's notice of any changes it intends to make to its operating model.

Any data breaches must also be reported to TfL.

TfL revoked Uber's licence in September last year on the grounds it had flouted certain requirements over safety and governance. Among TfL’s concerns were the company's processes for reporting crimes to the police and insufficient driver background checks.

Read more: Uber faces review after six months if it wins new TfL licence

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot ruled: "Inevitably such a young business suffered a number of growing pains which have not been helped by what seemed to be the 'gung-ho' attitude of those running the business in the very recent past. The attitude of the previous managers of ULL [Uber London Limited] appeared to me on the evidence to be that of grow the business come what may."

However, she found that the new directors had tried to change the corporate culture. "Taking into account the new governance arrangements, I find that whilst ULL was not a fit and proper person at the time of the decision letter and in the months that followed, it has provided evidence to this court that it is now a fit and proper person,'' she said.

In a win for TfL, Uber was ordered to pay its legal costs of £425,000.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said TfL had been “vindicated”.

“As a result of us standing up for Londoners, Uber has been forced to overhaul the way it operates not just in London but across the world, including completely changing its global governance structures and implementing new systems for reporting alleged crimes.”

Representatives for Uber, including Uber UK general manager Tom Elvidge, admitted in court that it agreed with TfL's decision last year, but that the company had since changed and was worthy of a renewed 18-month licence.

Uber applied for the "probation-style" 18-month licence to show it was serious about reform but on the first day of the appeal Arbuthnot said she thought it would be too long.

Elvidge said the company was pleased with the decision. "We will continue to work with TfL to address their concerns and earn their trust, while providing the best possible service for our customers," he said.

Read more: Uber admits TfL was 'perfectly correct' to revoke its London licence

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