Uber has won a partial victory in an appeal to overturn the suspension of its licence to operate in London, after outlining “profound” changes it has made to its operation since September.
Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot granted a 15-month permit on Tuesday, with a set of conditions the company must adhere to.
During her judgment at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Arbuthnot criticised the firm’s past “gung-ho” behaviour as “grow the business come what may”.
The judge also said Uber “tried to whip up public outcry” after Transport for London (TfL)’s decision not to renew its licence by launching a “public attack” rather than immediately accepting blame, adding that its failure to inform police of “very concerning” criminal complaints “lacked common sense”.
Judge Arbuthnot added that the firm painted a “false picture” of its processes after being asked for clarification over statements in court battles over whether it was the driver who accepted bookings.
Uber was asking for a five-year licence when TfL rejected its application last year, but the court issued the shorter one with stringent conditions after concluding the firm had made “rapid and very recent” changes.
Transport for London’s lawyer said that costs for the case, to be paid by Uber, would be £425,000.
Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in the UK, said: “We are pleased with today’s decision. We will continue to work with TfL to address their concerns and earn their trust, while providing the best possible service for our customers.”
The company must now inform the police of criminal allegations, face regular independent audits and not employ anyone who has helped evade law enforcement.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I fully supported Transport for London’s decision not to renew Uber’s operating licence last September – I believe everyone must play by the same rules, no matter how big or powerful they are.
“After years of operating poorly in London, Uber has now accepted that TfL’s action in refusing to renew their licence was totally justified. Today our stance has been vindicated by the court.
“Uber has been put on probation – their 15 month licence has a clear set of conditions that TfL will thoroughly monitor and enforce.”
TfL said it had concerns which have “public safety and security implications”, including its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and how it carried out background checks on its drivers.
The firm was given a four-month temporary licence in May, and was allowed to continue operating “until any appeal processes have been exhausted”.
Uber criticised the decision saying TfL had shown “the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies” and appealed the decision.
More than 850,000 people signed an online petition appealing for TfL to reconsider the move, and Uber said it accepted it had made mistakes in the past.