Uber wins legal fight to regain London license

A man holding up a smartphone with the Uber transport app visible on screen, while taxis queue in the background, on June 4, 2019. (Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images)

Olly Curtis | Future | Getty Images

Uber won its legal fight to continue operating in London on Monday, as a judge overturned a ban on the ride-hailing app by the city’s transport regulator.

Last year, TfL stripped Uber of its license for a second time — it first declined to renew Uber’s London license in 2017 — citing a “pattern of failures” that had put passengers at risk.

The watchdog said a glitch in Uber’s systems allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other driver accounts and fraudulently pick up passengers in at least 14,000 journeys.

Handing down his decision at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Judge Tan Ikram said he had “sufficient confidence” Uber “no longer poses a risk to public safety.”

“Despite their historical failings, I find (Uber), now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV (private hire vehicle) operator’s licence,” Ikram said in his judgement.

Uber shares climbed 6% in premarket trading following the judgement.

Uber had tried to allay the regulator’s passenger safety concerns, introducing a new system in April to verify drivers’ identities through a mix of facial recognition and human reviewers. Despite losing its license, the company was still able to operate in London as it appealed the ban.

London is Uber’s largest market by far in Europe. The company has racked up around 3.5 million users and 45,000 drivers in the U.K. capital since launching there in 2012.

It’s the city’s top ride-hailing player but faces heavy competition from several new operators including India’s Ola and Estonia’s Bolt.

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