Uber loses London licence

22 September 2017

Transport for London (TfL) has rejected Uber’s application for a new licence in London, after it concluded that the US company was “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence”. 

TfL said “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks.

In August, police accused the firm of allowing a driver who sexually assaulted a passenger to strike again by not reporting the attack. 

TfL flagged up Uber’s approach to how drivers’ medical certificates were obtained, with examples of drivers using an online GP service via video instead of having checks in person, as the regulations insist.

The licencing body said it was also concerned by Uber’s use of Greyball—software that can be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to its app and undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties. 

Uber’s current licence expires on 30 September but it will have 21 days to appeal and can continue to operate until that process expires.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he fully supported TfL's decision to revoke Uber’s licence.

“All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect—particularly when it comes to the safety of customers," he said.

"Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security."

In London, Uber has faced criticism from unions, lawmakers and traditional black cab drivers over working conditions.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licenced Taxi Drivers' Association, which represents black cab drivers, said the mayor had made the right decision.

"Since it first came onto our streets, Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers," he said.

"This immoral company has no place on London's streets."

Globally, Uber has also suffered a turbulent few months after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying in the company, leading to investor pressure, which forced out former chief executive and founder Travis Kalanick.

Tom Elvidge, Uber London general manager, said Uber planned to immediately challenge the decision in the courts to “defend the livelihoods of all those drivers and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app”. 

“The 3.5m Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licence drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision,” he said.

“By wanting to ban our app from the capital, TfL and the mayor have caved into a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice. If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licenced drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.” 

Elvidge added that drivers who use Uber are licenced by TfL and have been through the same enhanced background checks as black cab drivers.

“We have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents and have a dedicated team who work closely with the Metropolitan Police,” he said. 

“As we have already told the TfL, an independent review has found that greyball has never been used or considered in the UK for the purposes cited by TfL.”

 Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.

Location: Home-Based with travel
We are offering a salary up to £60,000 for this role, depending on experience.
Zurich Insurance Ltd
Canary Wharf, London (Greater)
£33,119 - £37,209 pa
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates