Thursday, January 30, 2020

Chiltern Law Update On UTAG’s Judicial Review Of Transport For London

The post below is well worth a read, to get an update on the UTAG17 Judicial Review of Transport for London. 

The  article is authored by Darren Rogers, who is the UTAG instructing solicitor. 

Transport for London (“TfL”) is a specialist regulator with a wide range of powers to sanction breaches of regulations. The primary legislation applying to private hire vehicles (“PHV”) is the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 (‘the 1998 Act”).  In London, PHVs are subject to a distinct regulatory regime from the iconic black cabs or “Hackney carriages”. 

Black cabs are governed by various legislation but primarily the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 and the various London Hackney Carriage Acts.
In recent years we have seen the rapid emergence of the gig economy of which Uber is the most well known in London.  Uber is not a third category of taxis, they are simply PHVs and governed by the 1998 Act and regulated by TfL.  As of November 2019 there was almost 108,000 PHV licences of which approximately half are Uber drivers.

TfL has to be satisfied that a PHV operator is a “fit and proper person” to hold a PHV operator’s licence pursuant to s.3(3) of the 1998 Act. In broad terms this means “anything which a reasonable and fair-minded decision maker, acting in good faith and with proper regard to the interests both of the public and the applicant could properly think it right to rely on”.

In November 2019 TfL decided that Uber was not a fit and proper person to hold a PHV operator’s licence and refused to renew / grant Uber’s licence in London.  

TfL did not exercise its power under s26(2) of the 1998 Act to suspend or revoke Uber’s operator’s licence with immediate effect as they argue it was neither necessary or proportionate.  We are judicially reviewing the decision not to immediately revoke on grounds of irrationality given the systemic and repeated failures of Uber to “get their house in order” and ensure public safety.

There have been serious breaches of regulations and conditions imposed by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot following her decision to grant a 15 month licence in June 2018.  Not least being prosecuted for “causing/permitting the use of a motor vehicle without insurance” to which Uber pleaded guilty at the same Magistrates’ Court which granted them the a 15 month licence.

We will argue that the decision not to immediately revoke Uber’s licence is irrational for, inter alia, the following reasons:
  • That Uber is not fit and proper to hold a PHV operators’ licence
  • That Uber had repeatedly and seriously breached the terms of the 15 month licence granted following its successful appeal before the Chief Magistrate in June 2018
  • That there was indeed a pattern of regulatory breaches since the “probationary licence”
  • That many of those breaches had placed passenger safety and security at risk
  • That having considered their independent assessments of Uber’s systems, TfL concluded it did not have confidence that Uber had robust systems in place for protecting passenger safety; and
  • By necessary inference that TfL did not have confidence that similar serious breaches would not reoccur in the future

In simple terms it’s irrationality v proportionality and we await the single judge’s decision as to whether permission is granted to JR this decision.

It really is a no brainer....ever driver and support services worker attached to the London Taxi trade, needs to get fully behind the UTAG17 team. 

It’s amazing how drivers are only too pleased to let third parties dip into their earnings with very little in return. 

It’s time for the drivers them selves to dip into their money bags and contribute towards this project.

This isn’t a pipe dream, this is actually happening, but it needs your support. 

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