Uber Admits TfL Was 'Perfectly Correct' To Revoke Its London Licence

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Uber Admits TfL Was 'Perfectly Correct' To Revoke Its London Licence

Uber's UK general manager Tom Elvidge has said he "absolutely accepts" TfL's decision to revoke its licence on the grounds it was not a "fit and proper" private licence holder.

Giving evidence at a three-day hearing in which the operator is seeking to persuade TfL it has changed and deserves a renewed licence, Elvidge said Uber was undergoing a period of change and made mistakes with regards to TfL's concerns.

"In light of what was available to TfL and given the mistakes made, I absolutely accept the decision," he said.

TfL first raised concerns about Uber in 2014 over issues including safety – such as how drivers accepted bookings rather than Uber itself – its reluctance to report criminal incidences to the police, how Uber obtained drivers’ medical certificates and its use of software in the US that allowed it to escape the scrutiny of regulators.

Elvidge's concession was echoed by Uber's barrister Tom de la Mare QC, who said the company agreed TfL was "perfectly correct" to take away its licence on 22 September last year.

"It is not a part of our case to say that decision was wrong," de la Mare said. "This hearing is not an attack on that decision."

He said it was that acceptance that had led to "wholesale change in the way we conduct our business", adding that Uber had changed from a "business that has grown very fast to a business that has grown up".

He told Westminster Magistrates' Court of the changes Uber has made in the nine months since TfL refused to grant its licence, including appointing three new non-executive directors to oversee its operations, as well as reporting more criminal offences to the Metropolitan Police - one of TfL's main sticking points.

"There has been no criticism that the package of reform had been incomplete, insincere or ill-thought through," he said.

However, the chief magistrate sitting in the case, Emma Arbuthnot, said she was concerned the 18-month licence Uber had applied for was too long.

She also said she would feel "uncomfortable" if she were to grant a licence to Uber if the same people who "misled" the High Court in 2014 were still employed by the company.

Elvidge said under the tenure of Jo Bertram, Uber's former general manager in the UK who no longer works at the company, the "potential for error was not negligible" and that the individuals involved had an "insufficient understanding of the issues involved".

He accepted Uber's correspondence with TfL had been "inadequate".

TfL said that while it accepted Uber had taken steps to address its concerns, any licence granted to Uber should be a short one subject to TfL's "stringent conditions".

Uber applied for an 18-month licence instead of a five-year licence to show it was taking reform seriously. It argued it needed at least 18 months to allow external advisers at Deloitte to oversee the changes it said warranted licence renewal.

Uber's appeal is likely to last three days. The company will be able to continue operating while the appeals process passes through the courts.

This article originally appeared on City A.M.

Last Updated 25 June 2018