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Uber London can’t be taken to High Court

Ongoing legal cases by London cabbies against Uber means High Court ruling can't be made

London’s black cab drivers have shot themselves in the foot by pursuing individual Uber users and inadvertently blocked a High Court ruling on whether the app is legal.

Transport for London (TfL) had planned to take Uber to the High Court to discover if using a smartphone and GPS to measure time and distance of journeys complied with current laws on taxi meters.

Now TfL, which licenses black cabs and private hires in London, has revealed it can’t go to the High Court because of individual action being taken against Uber drivers by London cabbies at Magistrates’ courts.

TfL said it was “satisfied” that Uber London was acting lawfully and that there were “no grounds to take legal action” at this time.

Cab drivers around the world have protested against Uber. In London black cab drivers have complained that Uber is operating without regulation and that the its use as a taxi fare meter is unlawful. Uber uses a smartphone and GPS signal to work out the length of a journey and calculate a fare.

TfL points out that ti isn’t unlawful for a private hire company to charge customers on the basis of time taken and distance travelled in a journey.

It also explained that as the phone and app “have no operation or physical connection with the vehicles” they could not be classed as taxi meters under current legislation.

“It is for that reason that TfL wrote to all interested parties and advised them of our intention to seek a definitive, and binding, declaration from the High Court”, TfL said.

TfL said that ongoing legal action by London cabbies at Magistrates’ courts was preventing it from seeking a ruling from the High Court. The authority added that it was inevitable that a High Court hearing would be necessary to end the dispute.

But it said that “essential […] clarity about how the law should be applied in these circumstances will not be delivered for some considerable time.”

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