Uber has won its appeal after losing its license to operate in London, Bloomberg reports. A judge ruled that the service is “fit and proper” and should be allowed to operate in the capital. The company has been granted a license to operate for 18 months. Uber had been allowed to continue operating in London throughout the appeals process.
In his decision, the judge admitted that Uber had made “historical failings.” Last year, London’s transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), cited a “pattern of failures” as its reason for not granting Uber a new license to operate. In particular, Uber was criticized for allowing “unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts,” meaning that unauthorized drivers could masquerade as legitimate.
24 drivers were said to have made use of this loophole to share their accounts with 20 others, and a total of 14,788 trips are believed to have been made by the wrong driver, BBC News reports. All of these journeys were uninsured, and one the drivers who was able to take passengers using this method had their license revoked by TfL, the authority said last year.
In his ruling, deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said that he believed Uber has been working to improve its standards. “I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more,” the judge ruled, according to Bloomberg.
As part of the ruling, Uber was granted a license to operate for 18 months. It’s an increase on the 15 month temporary license granted to Uber back in 2018. More recently, Uber was allowed to operate while going through the appeals process.
The decision was criticized by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, which represents some of London’s black-cab drivers. In a statement posted on Twitter, it called the decision “a disaster for London” and said that Uber has created the “false impression that it has changed for the better.”
Uber has faced multiple legal challenges in recent years, most notably surrounding the employment status of its drivers. In California, the company came close to having to shut down in August over an order that would have required it to classify its drivers as employees. The order was subsequently blocked on appeal. A decision on the same issue is due to be made by the UK’s supreme court later this year.
In a statement, Uber called the decision “a recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety” and added that it intends to “continue to work constructively with TfL.” The company said that “there is nothing more important than the safety of the people who use the Uber app.”
Update September 28th, 8:09AM ET: Updated with statement from Uber and confirmation of the 18-month license term.