London's Uber Drivers Will Have to Take an English Exam

By Gary Cutlack on at

Uber has lost a court case in which it wanted to stop its London drivers -- and all private hire drivers working in the city -- from being forced to take English language tests, so now the fleet of semi-casual carsmiths must take some sort of writing test to see if they can perform to the required level of offensive chit-chat.

The case saw Uber trying to get out of a Transport for London requirement for an English test for all drivers in return for being allowed a licence. Judge John Mitting said the requirement is legally allowable and should stand, though, explaining that: "In my judgment, TfL have demonstrated that they were and are entitled to require drivers to demonstrate a level of competence in written and spoken English," okaying TfL's plan to test the written language skills of the capital's private drivers via a compulsory £200 exam.

It won't cover all drivers though, only ones coming from countries that aren't majority English speaking -- and Uber's trying its best to train them up in advance. [Bloomberg]

Update: Uber has got in touch with us because they think we should emphasise that it was an essay writing test of the drivers' written English. They offered up this statement, attributed to Tom Elvidge, Uber's General Manager in London:

“While we are glad the court agreed with us on the other measures TfL tried to impose this is a deeply disappointing outcome for tens of thousands of drivers who will lose their livelihoods because they cannot pass an essay writing test. We’ve always supported spoken English skills, but writing an essay has nothing to do with communicating with passengers or getting them safely from A to B. Transport for London’s own estimates show that their plans will put more than 33,000 existing private hire drivers out of business. That’s why we intend to appeal this unfair and disproportionate new rule.”

So if you're an Uber driver, perhaps now is the time to start brushing up on all of the allegory in Macbeth.

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