Monday 14 September 2020 10:44 am

Uber's second London legal challenge gets underway

Today Uber will appear in a Westminster court for a second time, appealing a previous ruling which banned it from operating in London over safety concerns.

Transport for London (TfL) stripped Uber of its licence again last year, alleging a failure to protect its customers when using the service. Uber has been allowed to continue to operate while the appeal is ongoing.

TfL said it had discovered more than 14,000 trips were made on the app between 2018 and 2019 by drivers using fake identities, at least one of which had previously had their licence suspended.

Read more: Uber’s food delivery business doubles but demand for rides falters

The two sides will spend the next four days in court, where Uber will seek to prove it has made a number of changes to its systems and leadership.

It implemented a new facial recognition system in April to help prevent drivers from sharing their accounts and cars by changing their photos, and installed an in-app button to allow users to call emergency services.

Uber first lost its licence in London in 2017, and had since been operating on a 15-month probationary licence. It then received a two-month licence in September last year, before failing to convince authorities it should have a future in the capital.

Uber has more than 45,000 drivers in London, while also operating separate businesses in food delivery and dockless bikes.

Read more: Uber snaps up UK taxi tech firm Autocab

Over 3.5m Londoners use the app’s car services, while it faces rising competition from rivals such as Ola, Bolt and Freenow.

Globally the company has said pandemic-related costs are at around $1.8bn, as use of its ride-hailing services plummeted. Rides in the most recent quarter fell to 737m worldwide, down from 1.6bn in the same period last year.

It is not known when a ruling will be handed down after this week’s appeal. Should it not be successful, Uber will be given 21 days to make another appeal to a higher court.