A black cab drivers trade body has filed a legal challenge against ride-hailing app Free Now, over claims the taxi firm’s business model is illegal.
The hackney carriage driver’s trade body, United Trade Action Group (UTAG), is seeking to argue that ride-hailing apps that lets customers hail private hire taxis are acting illegally.
The body is set to argue that ride-hailing apps like Uber, Bolt, and Free Now, allow private hire taxis privileges that should only be granted to hackney carriages.
The black cab drivers will argue that laws banning private hire taxis from “plying for hire” – the act of cruising the streets for business – make ride-hailing apps’ business models illegal.
In a skeleton argument seen by City A.M., the cab drivers’ lawyers argued that the very act of driving around “with the intention of responding to a hail” is illegal under the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, unless the vehicle in question is a licensed hackney carriage.
The black cab drivers are now calling for a judicial review of Transport for London’s (TfL’s) licensing decisions.
The skeleton argument notes that in the same way that black cabs are subject to different rules from private hire taxis, they are also allowed certain privileges, including the right to “ply for hire”.
As set out in 2020, black cabs by law must be wheelchair accessible, must charge set fares, and must be driven by a licensed driver who has passed the ‘Knowledge of London’ test, that has been a requirement since 1865.
Free Now has been approached for comment.