Uber wins back London license despite ‘historical failings’

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Uber has won a legal bid to restore its London operating license which was taken away over safety concerns, after a judge ruled on Monday that the company was a fit and proper operator.

Transport for London (TfL) refused to grant the Silicon Valley-based company a new licence in 2019 due to what it called a “pattern of failures”. Uber argued it has since assuaged concerns over insurance verification and driver identification.

The U.S. company was also denied a licence by TfL in 2017, a major blow in one of its most important markets, before a different judge restored it on a probationary basis.

“I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more,” Judge Tan Ikram said on Monday.

“Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London… operator’s licence.”

Uber, which has apologised for mistakes it has made, has run into regulatory barriers and a backlash in other countries, forcing it to withdraw from some markets.

Shares in Uber rose 6% in pre-market U.S. trading after the decision.
In London, it faces a number of rivals, including Ola, Freenow and Bolt.

The city’s traditional black cab drivers have also blocked streets in protest at what they see as a threat to their livelihoods.

Their association was critical of Monday’s decision.

“A leopard doesn’t change its spots and we are clear that Uber’s underlying culture remains as toxic as it has ever been,” the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said on Twitter.