Ride-sharing company Uber is appearing in court today to appeal the loss of its license to operate in London today, claiming that the company has “changed” since the initial ruling.
TechCrunch reports that Uber is in court today attempting to appeal a decision from last fall which saw its license to operate in London City rescinded. The appeal is being held in Westminster Magistrates Court today and is expected to last for several days. Transport for London (TfL) ruled in September of 2017 that it would not be approving Uber’s application to renew its license to operate in London, claiming that Uber was “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.”
It would seem that Uber’s history of flaunting rules applied to other transport companies and numerous legal scandals were finally catching up to it as TfL stated that Uber had demonstrated “a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.” Uber’s development and use of their “Greyball” software, which allowed them to evade regulatory and law enforcement duties, was also likely a deciding factor in TfL’s decision not to renew Uber’s operation license.
The appeals process will mean that the court must decide whether or not Uber is fit and proper to hold an operator license, this means that many of Uber’s operational changes will be taken into consideration as a result. This will include the replacement of CEO Travis Kalanick with Dara Khosrowshahi who had only been acting as CEO for a short time when Uber’s license was revoked.
Uber’s UK general manager Tom Elvidge recently published an op-ed in the Evening Standard newspaper — whose editor George Osborne is a consultant for one of Uber’s biggest investors, BlackRock. In the op-ed, Elvidge admits that Uber “got things wrong along the way” but claims that the company is trying to improve. Elvidge writes:
Over the past year we’ve been working hard to put right past mistakes as we’ve gone through a much-needed period of reflection and change. Our new global CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is establishing a new culture and direction for the company from the top, while in the UK we’ve brought in three experienced independent directors to help us stay on the right track. If there are times when we fall short, we are committed to being open, taking responsibility for the problem, and fixing it.
Khosrowshahi told Politico recently that tech companies must take greater responsibility for their companies actions or prepare to have regulations placed on them by governments. Khosrowshahi stated:
We’re open to doing business with cities in the way in which cities want to do business. We’re not going to be absolutist in our approach, we will adjust on a local basis. This was a company that had a very particular culture that worked for it during the unbelievable growth years, during the startup phase. But it was time for the culture to change.
Uber now has their own e-bike division named Jump, which may play a large part in its bargaining with TfL and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Pollution and traffic congestion has been a key point of interest for both TfL and Khan, Uber’s plans to expand their e-bike division and turn many of their operating cars electric by 2025 could be a reason for London to allow the company to continue operating. “We are… determined to help the Mayor with one of his biggest priorities: tackling air pollution in the capital,” stated Tom Elvidge.