Uber have been given a 15 MONTH licence with various conditions attached. The appeal hearing lasted only two days out of the expected 3 or 4, and from the moment it opened I gained the impression the Chief Magistrate, Mrs Arbuthnot, had already decided that Uber were too big to fail.
At times the hearing felt almost rushed, she asked few questions and paid scant attention as a catalogue of Ubers mistakes and disregard for TfL and licensing rules in general were read out. Ubers general manager, Elvidge, was decimated by TfL’s QC during questioning on Ubers operational methods. He openly admitted a plethora of lies and rule breaking including the fact that the app had been operating in contravention of the 98 Act but by Monday afternoon it had become clear the Magistrate was merely going through the motions. In fact, she could have saved everyone a lot of time, effort and money had she admitted as much and given them the licence there and then!
When giving her decision she made great play of talking to Uber and its army of lawyers about the perils of not following the conditions of the licence to the letter, but at this point they had all stopped listening and were busy texting, obviously having decided it was back to business as usual!
Our biggest concern was always that the worldwide implications, massive press interest and sheer scale of this appeal would prove to be too much pressure for a Magistrate, and unfortunately we were right, she avoided the limelight, being involved in countless appeals and upsetting the status quo by taking the easiest option, the path of least resistance and simply bowed to the pressure, it is a sad day for British Justice.
We will be holding talks with our lawyers as to what, if anything, we can do. I will update members shortly.