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Uber Claimed They Implemented Changes To Regain Its London License Back

The famous taxi-hailing services firm, Uber, recently launched a legal fight against the UK government. While they accepted London’s decision to ban their license last year because of security concerns, they claimed they’ve implemented changes in their business practice since then as they repeal to regain their London license back.

The Suspension

Last September 2017, the Transport for London refused to renew the San-Francisco based ride-hailing company, Uber, their license to operate due to public safety and security concerns, causing them to halt their operations in the capital. The governing body was concerned on how Uber conducted background checks on their drivers to determine whether or not they’re fit to drive in London roads. Uber accepted the TFL’s decision at that time as they halted their business operations in one of their most important foreign markets.

Transport for London claimed in a 21-page document that around 1,148 London-based Uber drivers were accused of category A offenses like dangerous driving, stalking, and even mauling or harassing incidents against their customers. This lead the governing body to revoke Uber’s license in London last September

However, Uber’s representatives filed an appeal to the Westminster magistrates to have their client’s license renewed in the capital. They also told the court the company had cleaned up and implemented “wholesale changes” to comply with TFL’s ruling and guidelines.

The Appeal

Tom de la Mare QC, Uber’s representative, told the court they didn’t oppose TFL’s decision to refuse his client’s renewal at that time, based on the evidence they gathered. However, he argued that they had already implemented changes to conform with TFL this time.

The following is:

  1. Uber now forwards any incident reports from its customers or drivers directly to the police to avoid delays. Before, they logged these criminal complaints and forwarded it to TFL. Hence, it caused delays for the police authorities to solve such incidents.
  2. The Drivers can only use the app in the cities or regions where Uber holds a private hire license.
  3. Uber has regulated the working hours of its drivers. For example, a licensed driver must take a six-hour break (without any interruptions) after 10 hours of driving, either with a passenger or while traveling for pickup.
  4. Last but not the least, the company also revamped its management. They appointed three independent, non-executives for their UK board to monitor Uber’s operations in London and ensure the company follows their new changes accordingly.

A New and Improved Uber

As their appeal is still in the process, Uber hopes the Westminster Magistrates’ Court grants their license renewal. They promised to give a new image to its UK passengers as a gentler, humbler, and kinder ride-hailing company as they battle to regain their business operations in the capital. However, Judge Arbuthnot admitted that the 18-month provisional license renewal Uber is seeking would be too long for the court to grant.

Uber’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, went to London last February to apologize after TFL implemented their final verdict. She also said that what happened cost Uber to be branded with a “bad reputation.” However, she revealed that Uber has been making changes to improve their image as well as their business operations.

Meanwhile, TFL’s lawyer, Martin Chamberlain, agreed with the regulator’s thoughts. He claimed that since Uber had only implemented these changes recently, the court should only grant a short renewal license since they’re still subject to probation and stricter conditions. He claimed that Uber needs to prove itself that its services have improved to reduce risks of endangering the public’s safety.

Aside from London, Uber also faces difficulties in obtaining a license in Brighton, Sheffield, and York. According to a separate case last 2016, Uber lost the legal battle due to the status of its drivers. The London employment tribunal ruled the Uber drivers were workers, rather than independent, self-employed drivers. This means that their drivers are entitled to benefits like minimum wage, paid rest breaks, and holiday pays. And yet Uber failed to comply and give these benefits to their drivers.

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