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Last year, Transport for London (TfL) revoked Uber for the second time and refused to renew it on the grounds that the company had a “pattern of failures” that endangered passengers in its services and that Uber’s systems allowed unauthorized drivers to impersonate other drivers and fraudulently drive customers.
Judge Tan Ikram argued last night (Monday) in a Westminster court that he “trusts enough” in Uber and that travel in its services no longer poses a risk to public safety. “Despite the company’s historic failures, I find that Uber is an honest company and deserves to hold a London PHV (Private-Leased Car License) operator license,” Ikram said in its ruling.
Uber’s new license in London will last for 18 months and includes a number of conditions reached by the parties. Following the judge’s ruling, Uber shares climbed 6% in trading.
“The judge’s decision is a recognition of Uber’s commitment to passenger safety,” said Jamie Haywood, regional director general for Northern and Eastern Europe. “There is nothing more important than the safety of the people who use the Uber app and we will continue to work together to help the public move around London.”
One of the reasons for receiving Uber’s renewed license was the company’s decision to implement a new system to verify the identity of drivers in the app through a combination of face recognition and a human surveyor.
London is Uber’s largest market to date in Europe. The company has about 3.5 million users and 45,000 drivers in the UK capital since its launch in 2012. Uber is the leading player in the city, but faces stiff competition from several new entrants, including Indian Ola, Bolt of Estonia and German Free Now.
The London ruling does remove a source of regulatory uncertainty for Uber. But the firm is still facing a number of legal battles around the world. In California for example the company is fighting a lawsuit requiring Uber to redefine its drivers as company employees and give them rights accordingly. A loss in a California lawsuit for Uber would result in significant harm to the company. A ruling on the matter is expected later this year.
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