Uber’s appeal to overturn a ban on its operation in London begins today. The hearing, which opens at Westminster magistrates court, is expected to last several days, and represents the latest chapter in a long-running battle between the ride-hailing firm and authorities in Britain’s capital.
Last September Transport for London (TfL), the city government’s transport body, told Uber it would not renew its license due to concerns over public security and safety. Fears included how Uber reported serious crimes; how drivers’ medical records and criminal background checks were carried out; and the use of technology that helped it evade law enforcement.
“Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate,” the body said in September. “TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a license.”
Uber claims to have 45,000 drivers who have transported 3.6m users in London, which ranks just behind Moscow as Europe’s second largest city. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi struck a concilliatory chord in his response to the decision, writing in a company memo that “change comes from self-reflection.”
Uber says that it has made changes to its platform since the original hearing, and has been able to operate as normal during the appeal process. New measures to cooperate with police over driver complains were announced in February, for example.
Uber will seek an 18-month license rather than the customary five years, adding to its current image of contrition. London’s chief magistrate will decide soon if that contrition is twinned with an adequate level of safety for its users.