Uber won its appeal after losing its operating license in London, Bloomberg reports. A judge ruled that the service was “fit and suitable” and that it should be allowed to operate in the capital. The company was granted an 18-month operating license. Uber had been allowed to continue operating in London throughout the appeal process.
In his ruling, the judge admitted that Uber had committed “historic failures”. Last year, the London transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), cited a “chess model” as the reason for not granting Uber a new license to operate. In particular, Uber has been criticized for allowing “unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts”, meaning that unauthorized drivers could pose as legitimate.
24 drivers would have taken advantage of this loophole to share their accounts with 20 others, and a total of 14,788 trips were made by the wrong driver, BBC News reports. Not all of those trips were insured, and one of the drivers who was able to pick up passengers using this method had his license revoked by TfL, the authority said last year.
In his ruling, Associate Chief Justice Tan Ikram said he believes Uber is working to improve its standards. “I am convinced that they are doing what one would expect from a reasonable company in their sector, maybe even more,” said the judge, according to Bloomberg.
As part of the ruling, Uber was granted an 18-month operating license. This is an increase from the 15-month temporary license granted to Uber in 2018. More recently, Uber was allowed to operate while going through the appeals process.
The decision has been criticized by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, which represents some of London’s black cab drivers. In one statement posted on Twitter, he called the decision a “disaster for London” and said Uber had created “the false impression that he had changed for the better”.
Uber has faced multiple legal challenges in recent years, especially when it comes to the employment status of its drivers. In California, the company nearly closed its doors in August following an order that would have forced it to classify its drivers as employees. The order was then blocked on appeal. A decision on the same issue is expected to be delivered by the UK Supreme Court later this year.
In a statement, Uber called the move “recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety” and added that it intended to “continue to work constructively with TfL”. The company said, “There is nothing more important than the safety of people who use the Uber app. “
Update September 28, 8:09 a.m. ET: Updated with Uber statement and confirmation of 18 month license term.