The Licensing Service has been contacted by a number of interested parties raising concerns about the operation of Uber within the Council’s area. We have therefore published the following statement in order to set out the Council’s stance in a consistent and transparent manner:
The team have taken legal advice and have watched the unfolding case law surrounding this area with interest. We have also noted the content of legal advice obtained on behalf of the Medway taxi trade which was shared with us recently.
As the law stands, at present the Council do not consider that Uber is operating unlawfully within the Council’s area.
The triple lock, or trinity, of licences which is required for an operator to conduct business lawfully is met with Uber holding an operator’s licence issued by TFL and using drivers and vehicles which are also licenced by TFL. There is no geographical restriction on where the drivers may start and finish a journey booked with a lawfully run operator (as set out within S75(2) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and confirmed by Shanks v North Tyneside Borough Council 2001).
The Courts have considered many aspects of Uber’s business model and as yet the practices have been confirmed as lawful.
The Court in the very recent Reading case (Reading Borough Council v Ali 2019) have confirmed that an Uber driver who is waiting in an area (and therefore shown to potential customers on the app) is not plying for hire simply by being present within the area.
The ability to book journeys through the app is simply an updated version of a newspaper ad and telephone call referred to in Windsor and Maidenhead Royal Borough Council v Khan 1994 which was not deemed to be making provision for the invitation of bookings.
Considering all the above the Council does not believe that it could currently bring a successful prosecution against Uber.
We will however continue to monitor the situation. Should the legal position change then the Council will reconsider its stance.