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RMT expects TfL to remove functionality that allows minicab operators to exhibit availability

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

The RMT expects Transport for London (TfL) to REMOVE the functionality that allows ride-hailing and private hire operators the ability to exhibit availability to customers following a recent High Court ruling.

According to a union spokesperson there is now an expectation for regulators TfL to instruct Private Hire Operators to remove the facility ‘immediately’.

The calls come after the London taxi trade won the right to Judicially Review rules around plying-for-hire as a result of a landmark ruling at the High Court earlier this month.

The opportunity arose, after years of debate within the taxi sector, when a Judicial Review led by the United Trade Action Group (UTAG) against FreeNow was challenged in two parts; the Operator point and Facilitating Private Hire Vehicles (PHV) to Ply for Hire via an App. UTAG was successful on the Operator ground only, but crucially WERE ALLOWED to appeal the decision regarding plying-for-hire at a higher authority.

This new Judicial Review appeal granted will allow the industry to re-open the infamous ‘Reading vs Mr Ali’ case, which remains an important court result central to all plying-for-hire arguments.

Paul Bond, Chair of 0930 RMT London Taxi Branch, said in a statement: “As expected this level of Court were not able to define plying-got-hire or overthrow case law on this and have given UTAG permission to proceed to the Court of Appeal.

“On this occasion TfL were anything but neutral leaping to defend their decisions or to be more correct their inertia in clearly delineating the differential of the Two Tier System, even stating that Private Hire Vehicles (PHV) are just waiting (‘patiently by the roadside’) awaiting allocation of a booking from their operator.

“Of course this is a complete fiction nonetheless if that is TfL’s take on the situation then is abundantly clear PHV have no need to exhibit on a customers smartphone screen. We expect TfL to instruct Private Hire Operators to remove this ‘facility’ immediately.”

For the next legal stages to take place the taxi trade will need to dig deep financially and support UTAG in its quest to bring the Judicial Review appeal to the courtroom.

UTAG is uniquely funded by a diverse membership that contains taxi drivers, suppliers of goods and services to the trade and supportive members of the public. The RMT have urged members and the industry to support UTAG.

Bond said: “We advise our membership to continue to support this initiative and endorse its aims and objectives. Our Branch Policy is clear Defend and Define Plying for Hire, we continue to press where we can politically and within the TU movement, have we done enough? NO, should we do more? YES.”


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