Thank you for your recent correspondence, addressed to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. As a Correspondence and Investigations Officer for Service Operations, your correspondence has been forwarded to me for response on Mr Khan's behalf.
I can confirm that Uber London Limited is registered as a private hire operator in London, having met the same pre-licensing requirements as any other applicant for an operator's licence and is subject to all legislation which applies to private hire operators in the Capital.
Similarly all taxi and private hire driver applicants must meet a range of strict criteria to ensure they are 'fit and proper' prior to becoming licensed in London. All applicants must undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal records check both before they are granted a licence, and every three years after. The standards in this respect are the same for both taxi and private hire drivers.
Private hire drivers are not restricted from taking bookings anywhere in England and Wales, provided the vehicle, driver and operator are by the licensing authority where the booking is accepted. This is commonly referred to as "the triple licensing requirement".
A national change is required to address issues of cross border hiring and we are currently raising our concerns with Government to ensure that there are appropriate controls. However we do not currently have any legal jurisdiction to prevent private hire vehicles being licensed with more than one authority.
In respect of your comments relating to Uber and plying for hire; clearly, the introduction of smartphone technology has changed aspects of both the private hire and taxi industries. Private hire operators who offer their customers the option to book via app have significantly reduced the time it takes between booking a private hire vehicle and the journey starting. That being said, booking via an app is legal as long as a private hire journey is booked in advance through a licenced private hire operator, and the job is then despatched to a licensed driver and vehicle.
The time between a booking being made and a journey starting is not currently subject to any statutory control in primary legislation, or regulations. We support the concept of a statutory definition for plying for hire and pre-booked to enhance public safety and ensure the longevity of the two-tier system in London. We will continue to press government for a response to the Law Commission report on taxi and private hire services, in which this specific issue was considered.
Correspondence and Investigations Officer
Transport for London
I thank you for your reply, and I am well aware of the rules and regulations including the app based booking systems that technology has brought to the trade, I agree that the technology has a huge role in the industry, provided of course that it meets all current laws and regulations.
However, can I bring to your attention an article that was published online which I wrote, it explains the issue in detail. The reference from the Canadian court is very much supportive of my case and although not British Law, Canada is a colonial country that has many similar laws to Britain.
My example alone of how Uber accepts, or rather the driver accepts a booking is proof enough that every journey made by Uber is in fact illegal, something that your department does have the authority to deal with.
Perhaps TfL can take Uber to court and show their teeth instead of it being the other way round.
The evidence is there to show that the driver accepts the booking and not Uber.
Please respond as soon as possible, this is a matter of both urgency and due to insurance being invalid, public safety.
Let's hope no one has to prove this after a death occurs.
Thank you for your email response of 17 October 2016.
When booking a private hire vehicle, the passenger is deemed to be entering into a contact with the licensed operator who is inviting the booking and then fulfilling it with a licensed driver and vehicle. When accepting a booking, by whatever means, the operator is obliged to make a record of it at their licensed operating centre. The details of contracts between passengers and specific licensed operators are a matter for those two parties.
In accepting the booking and taking the payment, there is, in our view, what amounts to a contractual arrangement between the operator and the passenger. We will not comment on any specific contractual arrangements between the various parties.
As previously advised, Uber London Limited is registered as a private hire operator in London, having met the same pre-licensing requirements as any other applicant for an operator's licence and is subject to all legislation which applies to private hire operators in the Capital.
On 2 November 2016 at 22:51, lee ward wrote:
I have not finished with this line of inquiry, but I thought that it would be a good time to keep everyone updated.I sent this email to Sadiq Khan on the 7th of September 2016...
Mayor Sadiq Khan
I write to plead for your help in what has become a nationwide issue which started almost 5 years ago in the Great City of London.
My reason for writing to you is twofold, one that you are in a position to act and two that as a qualified solicitor in law, you have the skills to see what this problem is without someone explaining it to you. There is also the added bonus that you are a Labour member and have previously held positions in the following departments with those departments responsibilities listed.
Department for Communities
the Thames Gateway
Department for Transport
Sustain economic growth and improved productivity through reliable and efficient transport networks;
Improve the environmental performance of transport;
Strengthen the safety and security of transport; and
Enhance access to jobs, services, and social networks, including for the most disadvantaged people.
These attributes that you have gained among many in your career are the reason that I turn to you.
Uber came to these shores and set down in the Great City of London, where initially concerns were raised but fell on deaf ears, perhaps because of the Deregulation Bill that was going through Parliament at the time, perhaps for another reason, who really knows.
Several years down the line, scores of accidents, numerous charges of rape and sexual crimes, and various protests have all failed to bring this company to an end, and I cannot help but wonder why?
Any other group with this kind of record would have been dealt with, just cast your mind back to football hooligans, they were dealt with and to be honest, they were not in the same league as this corporation and its business ethics. A business that even states to its customers in the Terms and Conditions within its app that departs them from any lawsuit if the customer is injured in any way.
I am fully aware of the amount of correspondence that you and your department receive with regards to this matter, but this time it is not from a London Cabbie, but a Northern Private Hire driver, attempting in his lay mans terms to get across what Uber is doing to the industry nationwide.
It has no interest in the drivers, except for when it is promising to fill the tax mans coffers, but how can that happen if they flood the market with drivers at every opportunity that they get, these drivers will not be paying tax due to the lack of income that they will receive but will in fact claim any support benefit that they can to survive. While Uber takes 20-25% of every journey and pays what into the countries coffers exactly?
This company run the ‘Ignition Scheme’ where they pay the driver to become licensed in areas where the license authority are naive to the industry and what’s happening, fast tracking people to be licensed and then use the Deregulation Act 2015 to enable them to work in an area where they could not be bothered to obtain a license because of the requirements needed, this is also happening with licenses from TfL, easy to obtain and off you go to where you really want to work, borders are irrelevant now.
But that’s ok, because they have a smart phone with a sat nav on, of course they can be a taxi or Private Hire driver, safely transporting paying customers who are ignorant of the qualification that the driver has, or indeed the insurance also. Would this be suitable in other industries and more importantly, would it be accepted?
Explosion Scheme? Where a gas fitter gets to walk away with a smart phone and you tube.
Lightening Scheme? Where an electrician gets to use the same smart phone with you tube.
I am guessing here, but I would say no. That’s the bits where your previous posts can be an asset to assist in the answers I am sure, but now for the legal bit that your lawyer hat can help to answer.
An operator of Private Hire Vehicles must accept the bookings on behalf of the Licensed Private Hire Drivers, and quite frankly, Uber do not do this because they are a P2P company as admitted under oath in Toronto 2015. I am pleased to read that the judge seated on that case was a little techno savvy and got the truth out of Uber and how it operates. But to be fair, he didn’t have to go that deep into it, he simply had to read the Terms and Conditions, and look at Ubers advertising where they never say that they accept a booking, they always say that they put the customer in touch with the third party provider (the taxi or PHV driver) they even state on one of the adverts that an Uber driver is a former Taxi Driver and now an Uber Partner;
7. Wait for a driver to accept your request.
8. When your request has been accepted, you'll see your driver’s location on your map, along with an ETA. Your app notifies you about one minute before your driver should arrive.
Or how about the advert mentioned previously where drivers are now Former Taxi Drivers?
You see, what we have is Uber paying for people to become drivers, usually of Private Hire Vehicles, and like all people who circumvent a process, these drivers do not care for the industry, the rules or the people that they are trusted to take from A to B. They are however like moths to a flame, flooding the area with unsustainable drivers where the people who use taxi services stay at the level as they have always been, you cannot make people catch taxis who do not usually catch taxis. This ‘pie’ of taxi users can only feed so many mouths.
Yes the English and Math test will slow down the influx of drivers for TfL, and the Insurance Policy that is in place for the term of the plate, as requested in the LGMPA 1976 Section 48 (1)(b) which is a year (as proven by Benson v Boyce) will of course make people think twice before they commit to what all others have committed to, or more importantly, all others up and down this land who did not circumvent the process.
I can see why you are struggling to deal with what you have inherited from the previous Mayor of London, shutting down Uber and having people shout that you have put out of work 35,000 people, but you will not be doing that, you will push these people to regular operators who work within the law and employ people to answer telephone requests to make bookings, perhaps you would even make 10,000 new jobs. But nothing should prevent you from ensuring that a company who transports tens of thousands of people daily in this country to be legal, nothing.
Unfortunately, you chose to put yourself forward for this position and it is now your duty to close this illegal company down, for the benefit of the people who trust in the Transport Sector of this country, be them living and working here or simply visiting, either way they trust this industry, because this industry is one of the most regulated in the world and ask any real driver, they will tell you how proud they are to be a representative of this industry, we are fit and proper people, it’s time for you to be the same.
I trust you as a person, and know that deep down, you know what you have to do. Be the man that you promised to be, sort this sorry situation out, don’t compromise, steralise.