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Uber escapes the clutches of British law to remain operating in London

On-demand taxi service Uber has been given the green light to continue operating in the capital, after the High Court decided it does not break any laws.
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It had been suggested by a number of protesting parties, including London’s traditional black taxis, that Uber was breaking rules by using smartphones as meters – devices outlawed for private hire vehicles.

On a number of occasions in the last year, black taxi drivers have held protests by blocking the streets of London with their vehicles. They feel that Uber should be regulated to a greater extent, and are a threat to their livelihoods.

If Uber had failed to get the High Court decision it was after, it would have had to comply with the rules set for black taxi drivers. These drivers are allowed to use a meter because of the training required to navigate the streets of London.

In a statement describing the ruling, Lord Justice Ouseley said: “A taximeter‎, for the purposes of section 11 of the Private Hire Vehicles Act 1998 does not include a device that receives GPS signals in the course of a journey, and forwards GPS data to a server located outside of the vehicle, which server calculates a fare that is partially or wholly determined by reference to distance travelled and time taken and sends the fare information back to the device.”

Statistics show that one million people in London are signed up to use Uber, which has 18,000 vehicles operating in the capital.

At the beginning of 2015, Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick declared the year would be a big one for growth, with 50,000 jobs created in Europe alone.

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Personalities including Russell Brand have waded into the Uber discussion, saying: “It’s more money being siphoned out of our country. If you get a black cab that money stays in our country, stays in our economy. That’s one clear advantage.

“When you look at it, Uber is just another tax-evading company like Amazon, Starbucks or Tesco. Of course we all use Tesco, Amazon and Starbucks, they’re unavoidable and we’re just human beings.”

On the High Court ruling, an Uber spokesman said: “This was not a marginal call; it is quite emphatic. In fact, it is contemptuous of the case brought before it.

“Uber will continue going about our business and making sure customers have choice.”

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About Author

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven is the editor of Real Business. He is also the editor of Business Advice, a title focused solely on a section of the business community currently underserved – micro companies. Alongside this, he is part of the team that hosts the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative.

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