Uber’s application for a new licence in London has been rejected on the basis that the company is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator.
Uber said it planned to challenge the ruling by London’s transport authority in the courts immediately.
The current licence expires on 30 September but Uber has 21 days to appeal and can continue to operate until that process expires.
Transport for London said that it had rejected the US ride-hailing company’s application to renew its licence because “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks.
The licensing body also said it was concerned by Uber’s use of of Greyball, software that can be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to its app and undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he fully supported the decision to revoke Uber’s licence, saying all companies needed to “play by the rules”.
He said: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.
“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect –particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.
“I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”
Uber said in a statement that the decision would “show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.
“3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision,” the company added.
“To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”
James Farrar, a co-claimant in a landmark employment tribunal decision against Uber and chair of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain’s private hire drivers’ branch, said TfL’s decision would be a “devastating blow” for the company’s drivers.
“To strip Uber of its licence after five years of laissez-faire regulation is a testament to a systemic failure at TfL,” Farrar said.
“Rather than banish Uber, TfL should have strengthened its regulatory oversight, curbed runaway licensing and protected the worker rights of drivers. The mayor must call for an urgent independent review of TfL to identify the causes of failure and prevent something like this from ever happening again.”
In London, Uber has faced criticism from unions, lawmakers and traditional black cab drivers over working conditions.
Globally, Uber has endured a tumultuous few months after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the company, leading to investor pressure that forced out former chief executive and co-founder Travis Kalanick.
The company has been forced to quit several countries including Denmark and Hungary, and has faced regulatory battles in multiple US states and countries around the world.
Source: Guardian UK