Uber can keep operating in London after the ride-hailing company won a court appeal on Monday against the refusal by transit regulators to renew its licence.
The US company had challenged Transport for London’s (TFL) decision in late 2019 not to renew its private hire vehicle (PHV) operating licence over safety concerns involving imposter drivers.
“Despite their historical faillings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV operator’s licence,” Deputy Chief Magistrate Tanweer Ikram wrote in his decision.
However, he said he wanted to hear from lawyers for both sides before deciding how long Uber’s licence should be and under what conditions it should operate.
Uber was allowed to continue operating while the appeal was underway. The decision came after a four-day hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.
Transport for London had decided in 2019 to reject Uber’s application for a new licence, citing several breaches that placed passengers at risk. The regulator noted, among other things, that unauthorised drivers were able to carry out thousands of rides by uploading their photos to other driver accounts.
The magistrate said he took into account Uber’s efforts to improve oversight and didn’t find any evidence of a “cover up” of the driver photo fraud problem.
TFL had already revoked Uber’s licence once before, in 2017, but a court later granted it a licence lasting 15 months, which TFL then extended for two more months in late 2019, but with 20 added conditions.
The legal victory in a lucrative European market will help Uber as it struggles to turn a profit. The company posted a $1.8 billion loss in the latest quarter, raising doubts that it can meet its goal of becoming profitable by 2021.