A triumph for the free market or the beginning of the end for London’s famous black cabs?

Uber wins its High Court case in a challenge brought by Transport for London (“TFL”).

London’s famous cabbies were delivered a devastating blow today following a ruling by the High Court. The issue surrounds the use of Uber, a revolutionary app that allows its users to submit a trip request for which they will obtain a fixed fare from an Uber driver.

The technology has taken the world by storm, with many enjoying the certainty and predictability that the app offers. So successful has the app been, that the term ‘Uberfication’ has evolved in reference to its popularity. Free marketeer’s argue that the app can only be beneficial to consumers in that it encourages competition and ultimately leads to lower fares.  Despite this, the app’s legal status has been challenged by TFL following increasing pressure from London’s black cab drivers. The issue surrounds whether the app constitutes a ‘taximeter’ for the purposes of S.11 Private Hire Vehicles Act 1998. A taximeter can only be used by London’s black cab drivers and is a special privilege afforded to those who have taken ‘the knowledge’. Unsurprisingly, the app has resulted in black cab drivers seeing a sharp fall in profits which has resulted in the matter reaching the High Court. Despite the legal challenge, Lord Justice Ouseley found that the technology did not constitute a taximeter and, as such, could continue as normal.  It was held that Uber could not fall under a taximeter because ultimately its server was located outside of the taxi vehicle. The ruling calls into question the position of London’s black cabbies. With over one million registered users in London, the popularity and profitability of the app looks set to continue. It is difficult to imagine a visit to London without flagging down a black cab, indeed, most would agree that it would be a sad day if they disappeared altogether. The power has now fallen totally into the hands of the consumer, it will be interesting to see whether this trend of Uberfication is set to continue, or whether we will be shouting “taxi!” for years to come. Joshua Shuardson-Hipkin Trainee Solicitor The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Setfords Solicitors are a national full service law firm, with dispute resolution solicitors in Guildford and across the country.