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Battle between black cabs and Uber rages on in London

Uber car (Skoda) with inscription on the street before sunset

As London’s taxi and private hire drivers continue to compete for fares, London’s cabbies have raised the stakes with a lawsuit which could see them each get £25,000 in lost earnings.

The class action lawsuit has been brought against Uber by almost 11,000 of London’s Hackney carriage drivers, who claim that when applying for a licence to operate in the capital, the ride-hailing company misled Transport for London about how its app worked.


The BBC reports that while litigation management firm RGL Management says the claim is worth at least £250m, San Fransisco-based Uber insists it has done nothing wrong.

A spokesman told the BBC: “These old claims are completely unfounded. Uber operates lawfully in London, is fully licensed by TfL, and is proud to serve millions of passengers and drivers across the capital.”

The lawsuit, filed by Mishcon de Reya solicitors, has been brought in relation to Uber’s operation in London between May, 2012, and March, 2018, with RGL adding that Uber’s intention was to “unlawfully… take business from existing black cab drivers”.

Mishcon de Reya partner and head of commercial disputes Richard Leedham said: “Uber has consistently failed to comply with the law that applies to private hire vehicles in London.”

Similar cases

Similar class-action lawsuits have been filed against Uber in a number of countries.

The BBC reports that the company agreed to pay £141.7m to settle a lawsuit on behalf of 8,000 taxi drivers and operators in Australia who alleged they lost income when the ride-hailing giant “aggressively” moved into the country.

“Since 2018, Uber has made significant contributions into various state-level taxi compensation schemes, and with today’s proposed settlement, we put these legacy issues firmly in our past,” Uber said in a statement.

In December, a similar lawsuit brought against it by 2,500 taxi drivers in France saw Uber cleared after a court ruled the company had not committed acts of unfair competition.


The feeling among many of London’s black cab drivers is that Uber has had an unfair advantage and has cheated them out of income.

Veteran London cabbie Garry White said: “Uber seems to believe it is above the law and cabbies across London have suffered loss of earnings because of it. It is time they were held to account.”

Uber has endured a bumpy ride since launching in London and its current licence is due to expire in September.

There have been several demonstrations against the company and black cab drivers were further infuriated in January when Uber encouraged them to sign up to its ride-hailing app.

Hameed Hameedi, the first London cab driver to join Uber, said at the time: “Uber opening up to black cabs will be a huge advantage to the trade. App bookings are good for me because I know where my next job will be. More passengers booking trips means more cash for cabbies.”

But many of his fellow cabbies felt very differently about the proposal.

Howard Taylor told the BBC: “London black cabs are the gold standard” and he would “never consider joining Uber”.

He added: “That’s how they lure people in and that’s how they did it when they started in London, by offering cheap fares to passengers, and once they’d got them on to the platform, the fares got hiked again.

“We go the extra mile to help our passengers and are committed to providing a safe, accessible and efficient service. From everything I’ve seen, I don’t believe Uber shares these commitments.”

Black cabbies and private hire have never been the best of friends, and probably never will be.

They offer different but important services and competition is good for any industry, but not if one side uses an unfair advantage. It will be interesting to see whether a court finds Uber did anything wrong.

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.

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Public Hire & Uber