Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Transport for London's (TfL) General Manager for Taxi & Private Hire, Graham Robinson, has issued a statement to private hire operators in the capital to begin measures to ensure they are in compliance of all regulatory obligations following a recent High Court ruling.
The notice follows the Divisional Court judgment, issued on 6 December 2021, which confirmed that 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 London PHV operators must ensure they are compliant with this requirement including considering whether any changes are required to written terms and conditions, the booking process and considering any other changes that may be required to their operations to ensure regulatory compliance.
TfL has said it has begun its review of PHV operator terms and conditions and is writing to several PHV operators as a first tranche, including those with an imminent licence
Once a private hire operator receives a letter from TfL or a request through routine compliance inspections, they are being warned that it is important they comply with the instructions contained within that letter and provide evidence to TfL, including any written terms and conditions and confirmation of whether they have implemented any changes to customer and/or driver terms and conditions, booking processes, information to customers and drivers, standard operating procedures or otherwise.
Robinson has said that private hire operators "should not wait to be contacted before satisfying themselves that they are acting within the regulatory regime" and should be prepared to demonstrate such compliance to TfL, upon request, at any time.
Robinson concluded: "It is recognised that not all operators have written terms and conditions. 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."
On 6 December, a landmark ruling at the High Court Administrative Court refused Uber’s application declaring its controversial gig-economy business model must change.
Uber, despite the Supreme Court worker rights ruling, sought 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 court's decision sent shockwaves through the private hire industry. The capital currently has around 1,800 private hire operators. All will now face a regulatory overhaul making sure they are operating within the legal requirements set out by Transport for London.