There are many things you can say about the court system, but universally fast-moving is not one of them. Even though Transport for London refused to renew Uber's operating licence last September, effectively 'banning' the ride-hailing service, the company's appeal has only just hit the courts. The company is set to make its case at Westminster Crown Court later today, with a hearing that's expected to last several days.
TfL took issue with Uber's business practices, particularly with its efforts to allegedly impede investigations by regulators, and deemed it was't 'fit and proper' to hold an operating licence within London. This move effectively banned the company from running, with detailed reasons laid out in a 21-page document. Uber quickly launching an appeal, however meant it could continue to operate without a renewed licence. At least until the appeals process was over.
Since then Uber has made a number of changes to how it operates, least of all a change in leadership. Among those changes are a number of things designed to show how seriously the company takes customer safety, including reporting criminal action directly to the police, regulating how many hours drivers can work at a time and forcing them to take breaks, while also offering a panic button to passengers and a dedicated complaints line. All of which will be taken into account by the court when it makes its decision.
Interestingly the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones claims that Uber is also only seeking an 18-month operating licence, rather than the usual five year approval. He likened this to Uber putting itself on probation, which it no doubt play on in the courtroom.
We're not going to hear the outcome of the appeal for another few days yet, but you can be sure that any ruling against Uber won't be accepted without a fight. The appeals process is long, and time consuming, so any attempt to further keep the company out of London will only see this case dragged out through higher ranking courts. [BBC News]