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Is Uber banned in London from 2020? Licence dispute explained

Jack Turley September 28, 2020
is uber banned in london 2020
Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images

Uber’s London licence has been the subject of ongoing disputes. So is Uber banned in London from 2020?

Is Uber banned in London from 2020?

The short answer is no. However, here’s why this is even a question and how the London licence issue will affect Uber’s future.

Mixed race woman with protective face mask travel by taxi

Uber’s London licence issue explained

Since black-cab drivers’ protests against the ride-sharing company in 2014, Uber’s presence has divided opinion. Transport for London (TfL) ruled in 2017 against renewing Uber’s licence in the UK capital, but Uber has continued to operate while appealing the result. 

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This morning’s court ruling overturned TfL’s decision, declaring Uber “fit and proper” to operate minicabs in the city. However, the judge pointed to “historical failings”. So, despite posting regular financial losses, the US tech giant continues to operate in London. 

But who are the winners and losers from this court case? Why was this an important ruling? And what other legal battles are hindering the company’s quest for market dominance? 

Disgruntled workers

London’s black-cab drivers, who have to pass the gruelling Knowledge test to obtain their licence, and minicab drivers will be particularly annoyed by the decision to renew Uber’s London licence. 

Meanwhile, Uber’s own UK drivers took action through the Employment Tribunal, asking to be classed as workers and not independent contractors. The move was made to try to force Uber to provide basic employee rights such as the National Minimum Living Wage and paid leave. The tribunal sided with the drivers and now Uber is appealing the decision with the Supreme Court

Potential Uber bans elsewhere 

The San Francisco-based tech giant isn’t only finding problems in London. A similar Supreme Court judgement in Canada ruled in favour of workers. This opens another can of worms for Uber.

California’s attorney general has also taken issue with the wrongful classification of drivers (by both Uber and rival Lyft) as independent contractors, as this violates state law. 

Apps such as Gett Taxi make catching a black cab easier than ever, although Uber users frequently bemoan the price of alternatives in the capital.

Gett taxi app works like Uber, just without the controversy. Image Credit: Gett

However the question remains – if Uber can’t make money at present, will its gig-economy business model work in London at all? 

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J E Turley is a novelist and freelance writer. To read more about his novels, or about living with Crohn’s and Colitis, head to jeturleywriting.co.uk.