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Sheffield City Council ‘working to establish the full extent’ of landmark PHV sector ruling

Updated: Aug 6, 2023



Sheffield City Council is currently ‘working to establish the full extent’ of a groundbreaking ruling on private hire operators that was handed down last month. Following the landmark decision, the council intends to determine how this ruling ‘impacts’ licensed private hire operators.


The ruling emerged from a legal dispute involving Sefton Council and local minicab operators who sought to preserve the existing arrangement, wherein the contract for minicab transportation was considered to be between the driver and passengers rather than between the operator and passengers. However, Uber and the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) successfully challenged their opponents, resulting in a significant transformation of the private hire vehicle (PHV) sector.

Councillor Joe Otten, Chair of the Waste And Street Scene Committee, said: “Sheffield City Council is aware of the recent High Court ruling in the case of Uber Britannia Limited v Sefton Borough Council, relating to private hire operators. The council is working to establish the full extent of the ruling and determine how this impacts private hire operators that are licensed by Sheffield City Council.”


This ruling follows a previous legal action taken by the ADCU against Uber in 2021, which compelled the company to contract directly with passengers and recognise drivers as workers entitled to statutory protections. Additionally, as Uber became the primary party, it became liable for VAT, resulting in a settlement with HMRC for £615 million in back VAT payments. However, Uber is disputing an additional claim of £386 million related to VAT, which is currently under appeal.

The recent ruling aimed to extend the obligations imposed on Uber in London to encompass the rest of England and Wales, thereby creating a level playing field in the private hire industry nationwide. This move faced opposition from the Veezu Group, Delta Merseyside, and a coalition of operators claiming representation by them.


While major app-based operators like Uber, Bolt, and FreeNow have already implemented the required changes throughout England, Wales, and London, the court ruling mandates that all other operators must also adhere to the same regulations.


In a similar ruling in London, regulators Transport for London (TfL) swiftly urged all Private Hire (PH) Operators to take immediate action, requiring changes to their terms and conditions to ensure compliance.


The implications of this landmark ruling are expected to reshape the private hire industry and establish consistent regulations for operators across the country. Local licensing authorities, such as Sheffield City Council, are beginning to diligently assess the full impact to ensure compliance and fair practices within the sector.

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