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Uber wins London legal battle over taxi app

But the company still faces the prospect of new restrictions including mandatory wait times

Uber has a won a significant legal victory in the UK, with London's high court ruling today that the company's app does not constitute a taximeter. The legal challenge was brought by London's transport agency Transport for London (TfL), following pressure from the city's black cab and taxi drivers. Taximeters — devices which record distance travelled and are used to calculate fares — are only allowed in licensed taxis. However, the judge in the case ruled that the legal definition of a taximeter doesn't include "smart phones which rely on data from a server outside the vehicle."

Uber hailed the decision as a "victory for common sense," adding that the ruling means the company won't have to change how its app works in London. (Uber could have adapted to any ban on its apps by making it mandatory for users to enter their destination before they book a car, meaning they wouldn't record distance but simply calculate it beforehand.) London's Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, meanwhile, described the outcome as "unbelievable," tweeting: "The law really is an Ass! It uses time & distance to calculate fare and it's not a meter????"

However, Uber still faces ongoing legal challenges in London, including proposals to introduce compulsory five-minute wait times (even if drivers are nearer than this) and the removal of car icons from the map in the Uber app. Polls of Londoners commissioned by Uber suggest that most locals are against these changes, and UK politicians have spoke out against such "heavy handed" regulation. "As a government we welcome innovation and we welcome ‘disruptive technology’," said business secretary Sajid Javid this week. "And I wouldn’t want to see anything done that jeopardies our status as a country that welcomes investment and jobs, and puts consumers first."