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London officials won't take Uber to court – because cabbies are suing the drivers anyway

Capital's transport authority taps out

A guy in a paper hat at the protest

Car-ride booking service Uber has won a victory in London, UK, as the city's transport authority has decided not to pursue action against the biz after all.

Transport for London (TfL) said in a statement to reporters that the San Francisco-headquartered company would not be be subject to further scrutiny by TfL over whether it violates private hire vehicle (PHV) or taximeter laws.

The public authority reckons the US company does indeed operate properly as a private hire vehicle service in London. TfL noted that while Uber needs to clarify certain elements of how its operates with regards to its Netherlands-based Uber BV branch, the company is otherwise cleared to operate with the private hire license it was granted in 2012.

The ruling also addressed the complaint that Uber drivers operate metered car service without proper licensing from taxi authorities. It had been argued that the smartphone app Uber drivers use to calculate trip fares constitutes a meter. Because meters are subject to regulation from taxi authorities, Uber would be illegally operating without a license.

"TfL’s view is that smart phones that transmit location information (based on GPS data) between vehicles and operators, have no operational or physical connection with the vehicles, and receive information about fares which are calculated remotely from the vehicle, are not taximeters within the meaning of the legislation," the agency said.

The statement noted that though TfL had hoped to settle the matter once and for all via a High Court ruling, it could not do so at this time as the London Taxi Drivers Association is pursuing a separate series of cases against individual Uber drivers for operating meters without a license.

As that case is based on the same premise, TfL said that the matter would be settled by the High Court via an appeals process "later rather than sooner".

The statement is a boost for Uber in its ongoing battle with London's taxi industry. London cabbies have argued that the Uber service operates taxi services without any sort of licensing or regulation. The claim has been repeated in a number of cities around the world and has drawn protests against Uber and other app-based services.

Uber, for its part, says that it operates as a ride-sharing service and allow users to coordinate paid car-pooling rather than for-hire taxis. ®

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