The UK’s High Court has ruled that Uber can continue to operate in its current form in London.
The ruling is about taximeters, the boxes fitted to cars that taxi drivers use to measure the fare.
Black cab drivers claim the Uber smartphone app should be illegal because it calculates fares like a taximeter. By law, only black cabs can have taximeters installed.
But Transport for London, the organisation that looks after things like London’s Underground network, buses, and Uber, already decided that Uber’s driver phones aren’t taximeters:
TfL admitted in its initial ruling on the taximeter issue that there simply aren’t enough laws and regulations to help it decide how to deal with Uber.
“We have always accepted the law is untested,” TfL wrote. “We decided it would be appropriate to invite the High Court to issue a declaration as to the correct interpretation of the law.”
Basically TfL admitted that it doesn’t know how to deal with Uber because the country’s existing laws and regulations aren’t up-to-date. Elsewhere in the letter it went even further: “The legislation has not kept pace with advances in technology.”
Here’s the High Court ruling that came out today:
The ruling means that Uber won’t have to make any changes to the way its service works in London. It wouldn’t have been able to directly measure how long each journey takes, because then the app would be too similar to a taximeter. It could have gotten around that by forcing passengers to enter their destination before they start the trip, or quoting a flat fare before the trip starts.
Uber UK general manager Jo Bertram provided this statement to Business Insider:
This is great news for Londoners and a victory for common sense. Now the High Court has ruled in favour of new technology, we hope Transport for London will think again on their bureaucratic proposals for apps like Uber. Compulsory five-minute waits and banning ride-sharing would be bad for riders and drivers. These plans make no sense. That’s why 130,000 people have already signed our petition against these proposals. We hope TfL will listen to Londoners and let Uber keep London moving.
This won’t be the end to Uber’s troubles in London, though. It also faces a collection of proposals from TfL that originated by the black cab drivers’ association. The proposed laws include a mandatory five-minute wait time, a ban on animated cars appearing on a map, and a mandatory fare estimate shown before each journey.