London taxi drivers have commenced a JR of a court decision to allow Uber a licence.
The High Court action is based on conflict, bias, apparent bias and flawed reasoning and seeks to quash the judgment which allowed Uber to operate for a further 15 months.
The action seeks a re-hearing with a newly constituted court and is the first part of a three-phase legal action which will include TfL and Uber.
Papers have been filed for a judicial review of the decision by Westminster Magistrates Court to give Uber permission to continue to operate despite the company admitting that it had repeatedly failed to conform with the law. The action is being brought by the United Cabbies Group on behalf of United Trade Action Group.
Its solicitor, Darren Rogers of Chiltern Law, has instructed Robert Griffiths QC and Stuart Jessop of 6 Pump Court Chambers. The claim which was filed earlier his week is said to be based on the admission by the court’s Chief Magistrate, Emma Arbuthnot, that she was conflicted in the case. Last month The Guardian reported that her husband worked for one of Uber’s biggest investors. The revelation prompted Ms Arbuthnot to rule herself out from future cases involving Uber.
“By admitting it was a big enough conflict to stop her hearing future cases it shows that she had no right to sit in the case in which she gave Uber a green light,” said Angie Clarkson of the United Taxi Action Group.
The High Court action will challenge Ms Arbuthnot’s decision on the basis of actual and apparent bias. The claim will also look at the reasoning behind her decision to renew Uber’s licence for 15 months. It will argue that the extension resulted from unreasonable, implausible and illogical reasoning.
It will also highlight how the judge made no finding that Uber was a “fit and proper person” according to the legislation. Despite this she still granted the licence. The claim is the start of a series of legal actions which will challenge Uber’s business model and commercial practices as well as the failure of TFL to effectively regulate them.
“The legal storm clouds are gathering over Uber. Its reckless approach to the law is finally catching up with it,” said Angie Clarkson.
The UTAG will be asking individual drivers to donate to the cause which is seeking to raise £1.5 million. A spokesperson from the group hoped that around 7,000 drivers from the taxi community would donate £5 per week for the year or £250 up front to see the regulator and other parties in court.
Funding will commence soon in a taxi industry historically divided on opinion but all have found common ground to unite for this particular cause. In the first week, £100,000 has already been pledged by trade stakeholders.