Black cab and mini cab trade bodies fail in challenge to legality of Uber phone app

16th October 2015


The Uber phone app, used to calculate fares has been judged lawful and does not constitute a meter, a devise reserved for licensed taxis, the High Court has ruled. The taxi hailing app operated by Uber does not break the law, the High Court has found.

The court was asked to determine whether the company’s smartphones were considered meters. These are are outlawed for private hire vehicles in a case taken by the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), which represents many of the 25,000 licensed London taxi drivers, asked the judge to rule it was a meter and ban its use.

Interestingly, the challenge to the app was backed by the Licensed Private Hire Car Association, which represents many mini cab drivers, which argued the app was “an attempt to circumvent the statutory prohibition” on minicabs using meters.

The Uber phones use GPS and external servers to calculate the cost of a journey. Transport for London, which took the case, said it had been “in the public interest”. The app-based company allows users to order cars via their smartphones.

Mr Justice Ouseley said that taximeters do not operate in the same way as the app as they do not depend on GPS signals or include the app’s other new-tech characteristics to calculate fares.

TfL and Uber had both argued at a one-day hearing earlier in October that the app was not a meter. An Uber spokesman said: “This was not a marginal call; it is quite emphatic. In fact, it is contemptuous of the case brought before it.

“Uber will continue going about our business and making sure customers have choice.”

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