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TfL contact London’s biggest private hire operators to ensure awareness of new licensing obligations

Updated: May 28, 2022

Transport for London (TfL) has directly contacted the capital’s biggest Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) operators, and those with imminent licence renewals, to ensure they are aware of new licensing obligations, said the Mayor of London.

Earlier this year TfL publicly warned all PHV Operators to take ‘IMMEDIATE ACTION’ to make the changes to their terms and conditions and ensure compliance. Several operators are yet to make the shift in model.

The warning follows a High Court judgment that ruled London PHV Operators should contract directly with passengers rather than through its drivers. Operators were also told they must also ensure that passengers have appropriate legal recourse in the event that something goes wrong during a private hire journey.

In the landmark December 2021 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 ruling has now fundamentally restructured 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.

These changes are expected to ripple outside of London later this year as Uber and Sefton Council go head-to-head on similar matters that could force contractual arrangements with drivers and make all operators the principal for VAT on fares.

Andrew Boff, a Conservative London Assembly Member, asked the Mayor of London what TfL has done done to assist PHV operators understand its expectations of them following the ruling in the UTAG vs Uber case in December 2021.

Sadiq Khan said: “The Court’s judgment is clear 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.

“It is the responsibility of all London private hire vehicle (PHV) operators to familiarise themselves with the judgment and to ensure they are compliant with it.

“On the day the Court handed down its judgment (6 December 2021), Transport for London (TfL) immediately published a TPH Notice. The Notice provided a link to the judgment and also made London PHV operators aware that they would need to take steps to ensure that they comply with it, including considering whether any changes to their contractual terms and operational processes were required. TfL subsequently published three more TPH Notices which reiterate that PHV operators must ensure they are compliant with the Court’s judgment and if needed, make immediate changes to their contractual terms and ways of working to ensure compliance.

“In addition, TfL has prescribed a licence condition to ensure all London PHV operators are aware of their obligations and responsibilities and published guidance to assist London PHV operators consider whether their contractual terms and ways of working need to be changed to ensure they are compliant.

“TfL has contacted the largest operators as well as new applicants and those with imminent licence renewals since the Court’s judgment, as a first tranche, and has amended its application packs to ensure that all PHV operators applying for, and renewing, a licence are aware of their obligations.

“TfL has also discussed this with trade representatives in its regular meetings and continues to liaise with individual operators who have any concerns or enquiries relating to their compliance.”


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