US-based global ride hailing service Uber has suffered a fresh setback following a decision by a UK court to uphold recommendations made by a regulatory body that drivers needed to prove their ability to communicate in English.
The regulatory public body Transport for London (TFL) imposed strict new English reading and writing standards on private hire drivers last summer. In addition, to communicating clearly in English, the drivers were also requested to meet a certain standard of reading and writing which Uber deemed was 'too high'.
Uber took legal action against TFL, but last week a court ruled in favor of the transport regulator and now thousands of drivers for the US tech firm could lose their jobs in the UK. It's the latest in a long line of setbacks for Uber who have faced bans and protests all around the world as regulators attempt to establish rules on technology companies that threaten to disrupt traditional operators.
In passing judgement, Judge John Mitting said, "TFL are entitled to require private hire drivers to demonstrate English language compliance." During the case Uber's legal briefs outlined that the strict language measures could result in around 33,000 private hire drivers out of a total of 110,000 operating in London would fail to meet the requirements in order to renew their licenses over the next few years.
TFL's campaign is founded on the series of protest from drivers of London's world famous black cabs, who have expressed grave concerns over Uber's 30,000 drivers that are undermining their business model by not meeting the same standards.
However, Uber's General Manager, Tom Elvidge blasted the ruling and labelled the decision as 'unfair' before declaring that the ride-hailing service intend to appeal the new rules. He said, "Writing an essay has nothing to do with communicating with passengers or getting them safely from A to B. We intend to appeal this unfair and disproportionate new rule."
Uber successfully managed to overturn two other TFL proposals tabled by the regulatory body which included drivers have permanent private hire insurance and that it should operate a call center on a 24/7 basis.
On Friday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the court's decision and said he was focused on better regulating the sector. "From my first day at City Hall I have been determined to drive up standards and improve safety for every taxi and private hire passenger traveling in London," he said.