Uber faces £250mn lawsuit from London’s black-cab drivers

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for freeRoula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favorite tales on this weekly e-newsletter.Uber is going through a multimillion-pound lawsuit from London’s black-cab drivers, reviving a long-simmering battle between the US ride-hailing app and the UK capital’s taxi commerce.The motion, which can be filed in London’s Excessive Courtroom on Thursday on behalf of greater than 10,500 cab drivers, alleges that Uber improperly obtained a licence from Transport for London in 2012. The licence meant the San Francisco-based firm unlawfully took enterprise away from different drivers, based on RGL Administration, a litigation claims administration firm representing the drivers. The worth of the declare is estimated at a minimal of £250mn, with particular person drivers probably eligible for compensation of as a lot as £25,000, based on RGL. “Uber appears to imagine it is above the regulation and cabbies throughout London have suffered lack of earnings due to it,” Garry White, who has pushed a black cab for 36 years, stated in a press release. “It’s time they had been held to account.”The lawsuit, which spans Could 2012 to March 2018, revives a declare the cab drivers first tried to deliver towards Uber in 2018 alleging the corporate misled TfL about how its working system labored. After spending greater than a yr building up consciousness of the go well with among the many drivers, the pandemic and ensuing lack of commerce to taxi drivers meant the motion was briefly deserted. “These outdated claims are fully unfounded,” Uber stated. “Uber operates lawfully in London, is absolutely licensed by TfL, and is proud to serve hundreds of thousands of passengers and drivers throughout the capital.” The brand new declare comes regardless of efforts by Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief government since 2017, to rebuild relations with licensed cab drivers, after the corporate’s co-founder Travis Kalanick described the trade as “an asshole named taxi”. Uber has had a fraught relationship with London for plenty of years. In 2017, TfL refused to resume the taxi operator’s licence after concluding it was not a “match and correct” operator. Khosrowshahi wrote an open letter on the time apologising for previous errors and pledging to struggle the choice. Uber was once more denied a renewal in 2019, which it efficiently appealed. TfL granted the corporate a 30-month licence in 2022, with the allow up for renewal by the top of September this yr. The corporate was compelled to categorise its UK drivers as staff in 2021, entitling them to vacation pay and pensions, after shedding a high-court problem led by a bunch of Uber drivers. The case marked a basic shift in its enterprise mannequin. Licensed taxis have helped Uber fight driver shortages because the pandemic and provide ride-hailing providers the place its conventional “gig employee” mannequin is banned, making cabs a well-known sight on its app from New York to Barcelona. Lots of of black-cab drivers have signed as much as drive for Uber since November, when it launched its newest effort so as to add conventional London taxis to its transport app. The service went dwell for a restricted variety of Uber prospects in April, regardless of continued opposition to the scheme from the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Affiliation, which represents about two-thirds of London’s 15,000 black-cab drivers. Regulation agency Mishcon de Reya is performing on behalf of the claimants, with Katch Funding Group funding the motion.

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