Letter to the Mayor Re Uber license

Rt Hon Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London
City Hall
The Queens Walk
London SE1 2AA

5th August 2019

Dear Mayor Khan,

Uber Probationary License

As I am sure you are aware on the 31st July 2019 at Westminster Magistrates Court, Uber London Ltd were found guilty of on two occasions allowing its drivers to accept bookings in vehicles without the required hire and reward insurance (penalty imposed £14,000 for each count) and for two offences of failing to keep adequate records (penalty imposed £400 for each count) plus Court costs and victim surcharge.

It is clear with regard to the large fines imposed, how seriously the Court took these offences, noting (as is relevant) that had Uber London Ltd held a driving license upon conviction of 2 offences of not having in force the relevant insurance they would have been given a minimum of 6 points for each offence and thus would have been disqualified under the totting provisions.

It is understood that Ubers fifteen month probationary license expires on the 25th September 2019, following a refusal by TFL on the 22nd September 2017 to grant Uber London Ltd a license as they were not a “fit and proper” person within the meaning of the act to hold an operator’s license.

The refusal to grant Uber a license although appealed by Uber London Ltd, was done on the unusual ground of not opposing TFL’s reasons for not renewing the license – in brief they accepted that at the time the license was refused that was the correct decision as they were not “fit and proper”. Mr. de la Mare QC, for Uber London Ltd, even argued that TFL had made the right decision on the evidence at that time, arguing instead that the last 3 inspections showed a “perfect record of compliance” and promising “total compliance to the letter and spirit” of regulatory obligations. This appeared to be a persuasive argument.

In the Judgment of The Chief Magistrate, Emma Arbuthnot, recorded on the 26th June 2018, at para 15 she states:

“Nine months have passed, the changes set out in the skeleton arguments have taken place. The question for this court is whether ULL can be trusted when it says it has changed and whether it will maintain the changes when these proceedings drop away”.

It is submitted that this recent conviction, relating to matters which directly affect the safety of Londoners, is evidence that Uber London Ltd cannot be trusted and establishes beyond all doubt that the changes which permitted Uber London Ltd to be granted a license have predictably not been maintained once legal proceedings dropped away.

Although not the most serious offence for which Uber London Ltd were found guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court on the 31st July 2019; we are sure that you will share our concerns that Uber London Ltd also (on at least 2 occasions) failed to keep adequate records.

Which begs the question; if Uber London Ltd cannot keep adequate records during their probation period when additional conditions attached (which they agreed to uphold) what chance will there be that they keep adequate records when not so heavily scrutinised?

Section 3(3) of The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 sets out that TfL shall grant an operator’s licence where it is satisfied that the applicant is a “fit and proper person” to hold such a licence. In granting a license to Uber London Ltd, Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot stated:

40. I have considered the evidence and submissions in the case. I have given particular weight to the conditions that have been agreed between the parties. Taking into account the new governance arrangements, I find that whilst ULL was not a fit and proper person at the time of the Decision Letter and in the months that followed, it has provided evidence to this court that it is now a fit and proper person within the meaning of the Act. I grant a licence to ULL.

41. The length of the licence has been the subject of discussion. The rapid and very recent changes undergone by ULL lead me to conclude that a shorter period would enable TfL to test out the new arrangements. A 15 month licence will enable Ms Chapman and her team to check the results obtained by the independent assurance procedure set out in condition number 4 whilst ensuring the public are kept safe.

Condition 4 is as follows:

4. Independent assurance procedure ULL shall maintain an independent assurance procedure designed to review and validate the effectiveness of its systems, policies, procedures and oversight mechanisms for promoting compliance with its obligations as a licensed operator in accordance with the 1998 Act as well as these conditions.

ULL shall provide TfL with details about all existing and new customer and/or driver safety and security initiatives, safety and security related products and services and the work of ULL’s Safety Team, and the independent assurance procedure shall also include a review of these safety and security initiatives, safety and security related products and services and the work of ULL’s Safety Team.

ULL shall provide the licensing authority with a copy of an independently-verified assurance procedure report produced every six (6) months from the date of any decision granting this Licence together with a summary of actions ULL proposes to take in response to that report.

We urge you to consider, for the purposes of section 3(3) of The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 whether Uber London Ltd remains a “fit and proper person” to hold such a licence.

If, as accepted by all (including Uber London Ltd and The Chief Magistrate), the refusal by TFL to grant an operator’s license to Uber London Ltd on the 22nd September 2017 was the correct decision surely now, having promised a “perfect record of compliance” and promising “total compliance to the letter and spirit” which Uber London Ltd have spectacularly failed to maintain, even for the 15 months of their probationary license, it is submitted that a decision must NOW be made to immediately revoke Uber London Ltd’s operator’s license.

The Chief Magistrate was clear of the importance of “ensuing the public are kept safe” which it is submitted can never be the case when an operator permits uninsured drivers onto the street of the capital to ferry around unsuspecting fee paying passengers. Uber London Ltd are not fit to hold a driving license (nor would they if they were an individual) let alone an operator’s license.

Condition 4 has clearly been breached, the public are not being kept safe – Uber London Ltd are not complying with either the spirit or the letter of compliance and we respectfully demand that action must now be taken to protect the public and restore London’s reputation as a safe city in which to travel.

I look forward to your urgent reply.

Yours sincerely,

Grant Davis
London Cab Drivers Club

Visit our YouTube Channel at www.LCDC.TV