Hogan Lovells secures 15-month probationary licence for Uber

Hogan Lovells has successfully fought for a 15-month probationary licence for long-standing client Uber, though the taxi app was ordered to pay Transport for London’s (TfL) costs as part of the decision.

The taxi firm’s willingness to improve its culture, governance and management were all key factors pointed to by senior district Judge Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrate’s Court in one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2018.

Uber’s London operation has set up a compliance protocol to improve communications between itself and TfL, including the creation of an independent assurance procedure that allows external monitoring of its processes.

However, there was doubt over Uber’s motivations, with TfL interim director of licensing, regulation and charging Helen Chapman questioning Uber’s conduct.

In her judgment, Arbuthnot said: “Ms Chapman raises the important question though, which is whether there is evidence that these changes are embedded in the way Uber London Limited (ULL) conducts itself. Her attitude is perfectly understandable when all the change has happened so fast and much of ULL’s attitude to the regulator has had to be re-calibrated since January this year.”

Hogan Lovells partner Charles Brasted acted for Uber throughout the hearing, instructing Blackstone Chambers’ Tom de la Mare QC and Hanif Mussa.

Brick Court Chambers’ Martin Chamberlain QC, Tim Johnston and David Heaton were instructed by the TfL legal department.

The relationship between TfL and Uber has been strained since it first arrived in London six years ago. On 22 September 2017, TfL announced that it would be revoking Uber’s licence in its current form, triggering a slew of litigation which could still continue.

The latest development came last month as TfL successfully appealed a decision in the High Court which means Uber may be required to establish a “voice contact facility” for customers to voice complaints or concerns.

The legal line-up:

For the claimant, Uber

Blackstone Chambers’ Tom de la Mare QC and Hanif Mussa, instructed by Hogan Lovells partner Charles Brasted

For the defendant, TfL

Brick Court Chambers’ Martin Chamberlain QC, Tim Johnston and David Heaton, instructed by the TfL legal department

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