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Uber earns back its London license

The Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday granted human cloud firm Uber Technologies Inc. a license to continue to operate in London after Transport for London had previously refused [1] to renew its license.

The fight over Uber’s license to operate in the city began in 2017, when Transport for London refused to renew [2]  Uber’s license on the basis that the company is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator; it also expressed concerns over Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offenses.

At the time, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi apologized for Uber’s mistakes [3] and vowed to make changes.

Uber was granted a 15-month probationary license, which was then extended for two months. Then, in November 2019, Transport for London announced it would not renew [4] Uber’s license to operate in London. The human cloud ride-sharing firm then appealed Transport for London’s November decision.

In its decision [5] Monday, Westminster Magistrates Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram said “Despite [Uber’s] historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV (private hire vehicle) operator’s license.”

According to The BBC [6], the new license will run for 18 months and comes with a number of conditions, allowing TfL to closely monitor Uber’s adherence to the regulations.

“We are committed to help keep London moving during this critical time,” Uber stated in a blog post [7].

Worker classification. Separately, Uber is embroiled in a court case in the UK over whether its drivers should be classified as workers or self-employed. Currently, Uber drivers are treated as self-employed; however, in a landmark 2016 decision [8], a London employment tribunal ruled that two Uber drivers should be classified as workers and not self-employed. Uber has continuously appealed the decision and is taking the fight to a final hearing [9] in the Supreme Court.

And in an ongoing battle in California state, an appeals court Tuesday issued an injunction [10] that allows Uber and Lyft to continue operations while they fight a superior court ruling that they must classify their drivers as workers. Lyft earlier yesterday had said it would halt operations in the state.