Uber just won a major case in the UK over the use of its app in London.
The case was brought by Transport for London (TfL) after a surge of complaints by black-cab drivers that Uber was breaking the law by using its app as a taximeter.
It is illegal for private hire vehicles in London to use meters to calculate fares – the right is only reserved for black cab drivers.
The app uses GPS technology, which allows users to find available drivers nearby and contact them. Customer fares are calculated using the same GPS technology, which accounts for a number of factors, such as car type, location, local demand and travel time.
Lord Justice Ouseley said that Uber’s mobile service did not constitute a taximeter.
In his written judgment 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,”
Jo Bertram, Uber’s regional general manager for UK, Ireland and the Nordics, said: “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,”
Uber said: “This is great news for Londoners and a victory for common sense. This ruling was not a marginal call. It was quite emphatic and indeed contemptuous of the fact the case had been brought before the High Court. If the LTDA chooses to appeal it, we will respond.”
Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, commented: “With legal certainty established over taximeters, we will continue to work hard with all of our stakeholders to deliver taxi and private-hire services which meet the needs of modern London.
“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. At the same time, as the regulator, we must ensure that regulatory requirements are met and are developed in a way that delivers the high standards customers deserve.”