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It would be ‘INAPPROPRIATE’ for Private Hire Operators to fulfil ALL BOOKINGS says Mayor of London

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

Mayor of London image credit: Greater London Authority (GLA)

Forcing all Private Hire Operators to fulfil all bookings accepted would be ‘inappropriate’ says Mayor of London.

The comments follow recent probing questions put to the Mayor of London around the contractual changes within the Private Hire (PH) sector.

Assembly Member Keith Prince asked the Mayor of London to confirm whether PH Operators now have a responsibility to pick the passenger up after the acceptance of their booking. The question comes after a recent Taxi and Private Hire Notice from Transport for London (TfL) which states each operator must now enter into a contract with the passenger, rather than the driver, as the principal.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, responded: “TfL set out its response to the 6 December 2021 Divisional Court judgment in TPH Notice 19/21 which states:

“In order to operate lawfully under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 a licensed operator who accepts a booking from a passenger is required to enter into a contractual obligation with the passenger to provide the journey which is the subject of the booking.

“All operators will need to demonstrate to TfL through their operating procedures, booking processes or otherwise that they enter into a contractual obligation with passengers to provide the journey which is the subject of the booking.

“However, as set out in my previous response, there may be legitimate reasons why a private hire vehicle operator may not be able to fulfil a booking they have accepted.”

In a separate response mentioned by the Mayor of London, Khan said: “There are around 1,800 licensed private hire vehicle (PHV) operators in London, many of which have different operating models and numbers of drivers and vehicles at their disposal.

“As the regulatory authority, Transport for London expects London PHV operators to act responsibly and do everything that they can to carry out bookings they have previously accepted.

“Despite this, there may be legitimate reasons why a PHV operator may not be able to fulfil a booking they have accepted, for example due to road closures, a vehicle breakdown or a driver becoming unwell. For this reason, making a mandatory requirement in all cases would be inappropriate.”

In a landmark December 2022 ruling, the High Court Administrative Court refused Uber’s application declaring its gig-economy business model must change.

The ruling followed Uber seeking a declaration from the High Court that it is lawful for Uber’s drivers to continue to contract directly with Uber’s passengers for transport services. Uber had argued that its role was confined merely to that of an internet booking agent and that it was not party to any contract for the provision of transport.

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) said at the time that the misclassification had been used to shield operators from employer liability, legal liability to their customers and for payment of VAT.

The ruling will now fundamentally restructure the private hire industry in London as almost all TfL’s 1,800 licensed operators have used this model of operation since the industry first came under regulatory supervision in 2002.


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