Uber can keep operating in London after the ride-hailing company won a court appeal on Monday after transit regulators had declined to renew its license last year.
The U.S. company had challenged Transport for London’s (TFL) decision in late 2019 not to renew its private hire vehicle (PHV) operating license over safety concerns involving imposter drivers.
“Despite their historical faillings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV operator’s license,” Deputy Chief Magistrate Tanweer Ikram wrote in his decision.
However, he said he wanted to hear from lawyers for both sides before deciding how long Uber’s license should be and under what conditions it should operate.
Uber was allowed to continue operating while the appeal was underway. The decision came after a four-day hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.
Transport for London in 2019 had rejected Uber’s application for a new license, citing several breaches that placed passengers at risk. The regulator noted, among other things, that Uber’s systems allowed unauthorized drivers were able to carry out thousands of rides by uploading their photos to other driver accounts.
This let them pick up passengers as though they were the booked Uber driver on at least 14,000 trips, which means all those journeys were uninsured, TFL had said at the time.
The magistrate said he took into account Uber’s efforts to improve oversight and didn’t find any evidence of a “cover up” of the driver photo fraud problem.
TFL had already been keeping Uber on a tight leash following concerns about aggressive corporate tactics and passenger safety. It had revoked Uber’s license once before, in 2017, but a court later granted it a license lasting only 15 months, which TFL then extended for two more months in September, while also imposing a set of 20 stricter conditions.
The legal victory in a lucrative European market will help Uber as it struggles to turn a profit. The company posted a $1.8 billion loss in the latest quarter, raising doubts that it can meet its goal of becoming profitable by 2021.