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October 16, 2015

Uber wins high court case against TfL

News: High court ruling states that the mobile service does not constitute a taximeter.

By James Nunns

Uber has won its high court case in London.

The way the taxi-booking service charges for rides has been proved to be legal, following a case brought against it by Transport for London that claimed the app was being used as a taximeter.

The case came about after pressure from black-cab and minicab drivers, who have been severely disrupted by the app.

This victory means that the company won’t have to change its service to comply with rules that are designed to protect black-cab drivers.

It was ruled by Lord Justing Ouseley that its mobile service did not constitute a taximeter, he said:

"A taximeter?, for the purposes of section 11 of the Private Hire Vehicles Act 1998 does not include a device that receives GPS signals in the course of a journey, and forwards GPS data to a server located outside of the vehicle, which server calculates a fare that is partially or wholly determined by reference to distance travelled and time taken and sends the fare information back to the device."

Uber welcomed the decision with Jo Bertram, regional general manager for UK&I and the Nordics, saying: "Now the high court has ruled in favour of new technology, we hope Transport for London will think again on their bureaucratic proposals for apps like Uber."

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Currently around one million people in London are signed up to the service, with 18,000 drivers.

TfL said: "Disruptive technology and new business models have radically changed the way that taxi and private hire services operate and has widened customer choice. This is welcome."

The ruling has not been welcomed by everyone though, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said on Twitter: "Unbelievable! High Court says it’s NOT a meter! LTDA have lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court."

This was followed by another LTDA tweet, saying: "The law really is an Ass!! It uses time & distance to calculate fare and it’s not a meter???"

While this comes as a boost to the company, it may still find its growth in the capital curbed by a separate TfL consultation on taxi apps. This could propose the introduction of an interval of at least five minutes between booking an Uber and the driver picking up the passenger.

Uber is in a number of disputes with regulators around the world and is banned in Rio de Janeiro and Paris. The company has had its offices raided in both Paris and the Netherlands, where it is being investigated for violating the country’s taxi laws.

The court case was brought on October the 2nd while the consultation by TfL was brought on the 30th September.

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