London’s taxi trade have been warned that their refusal to withdraw private prosecutions against drivers working for mini cab app firm Uber is blocking any chance of the courts banning the app.
The Google-backed service uses smartphone apps and GPS technology to calculate the fares passengers must pay.
Black cab drivers and their representatives, the London Taxi Drivers Association, claim the use of such technologies breaches laws forbidding minicabs from fitting meters in their vehicles.
Transport for London, which regulates both Taxis and minicabs, says the app is legal but asked the High Court to make a final ruling because some aspects of the law are “unclear”.
However in July the TfL board were told that the LTDA’s decision to start legal action against drivers would prevent the court from considering its application as it cannot hear issues where related litigation is underway.
This morning the board heard how a decision to indefinitely adjourn the LTDA case meant the High Court would never be able to consider its application unless the LTDA withdrew its prosecutions.
The meeting saw angry exchanges between transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and board member and LTDA deputy General Secretary Bob Oddy.
Both accused the other of making inaccurate claims about the timeline of events, with Oddy complaining his organisation had only initiated its prosecutions after TfL management had waited “92 weeks” to take action.
Sir Peter disputed this and said the claim amounted to an accusation that he and TfL managers were misleading the board. He undertook to provide board members with a full timeline of developments.
Speaking at the meeting, Mayor Boris Johnson suggested it was “clear” what needed to happen if the cab trade’s concerns were to be addressed.
Speaking after the meeting, the LTDA’s Steve McNamara said: “If we drop the criminal case and the High Court still won’t hear it, we can’t reinstate our summonses because we’re timed out.”
He added: “The whole thing is down to TfL’s poor management style. They are so inept as to be embarrassing.”