United Kingdom

Thousands of black cab drivers plan to sue Uber for damages worth millions

London cabbies are planning to sue Uber for millions after accusing the firm of breaching private hire rules.

Legal action brought on behalf of thousands of black taxi drivers will allege that Uber allowed its drivers to accept bookings directly rather than through its central system.

The cabbies claim this 'unlawful breach' between June 2012 and March 2018 undercut them and resulted in a loss of earnings. 

Litigation specialist RGL Management, which is building the lawsuit with Mishcon de Reya, believes 30,000 drivers could be entitled to damages - and that full-time drivers could be in line for £25,000 each.

Around 4,000 black taxi drivers have already added their name to the claim, while another 5,000 were being processed, meaning victory could cost Uber millions.

But the ride-hailing firm dismissed the allegations as 'completely unfounded' and said it operates lawfully in the capital.

London cabbies are planning to sue Uber for millions after accusing the firm of breaching private hire rules (file photo)

Hackney carriages are the only taxis in London that customers are allowed to flag down in the street or in a rank.

Black cabbies go through extensive training and take a decades-old test called The Knowledge that allows them to drive in London.

All other providers, including Uber, must only accept pre-booked journeys and send a confirmation to the rider before the trip. 

In a statement today, RGL said: 'The basis of the claim is that Uber operated unlawfully by breaching the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 from June 2012 until March 2018. 

'Uber permitted drivers to accept bookings directly when they were not licensed to do so.

'Uber's failure to adhere to the relevant statutory framework caused loss of earnings to licensed black cab drivers, who continued to operate lawfully and were subject to strict legislative and regulatory rules and requirements throughout.'

Legal action brought on behalf of thousands of black taxi drivers will allege that Uber allowed its drivers to accept bookings directly rather than through its central system (file photo)

Garry White, a cabbie since 1987, has has signed up to join the legal claim

Garry White, a cabbie since 1987 who has joined the legal claim, said: 'Uber's blatant abuse of their technology platform, allowing Uber drivers to benefit from effectively being hailed in the street, undermined our drivers' livelihoods, and caused direct financial harm. 

'It was just not right. With the support of RGL, we are rapidly building a large group of cab drivers so that we can finally take on Uber, bring its unlawful conduct to book and win fair compensation. 

'London cabbies are highly qualified workers. We have to abide by strict regulations to accept fares. Why shouldn't Uber?'

A publicity blitz funded by RGL called 'Black Cabs vs Uber 2021' (BULit21) –is now underway. 

Richard Leedham, the Mishcon de Reya partner leading the case, said: 'Having spent more than two years working with black cab drivers on this claim we are confident that Uber has a case to answer.'  

An Uber spokeswoman said: 'Uber operates lawfully in London and these allegations are completely unfounded.

'We are proud to serve this great global city and the 45,000 drivers in London who rely on the app for earnings opportunities, and are committed to helping people move safely.' 

Uber found itself in court last year when it appealed a decision by TfL to strip it of its licence following accusations it posed a risk to passenger safety.

A judge in September overturned the ban and granted the firm an 18-month extension to operate.   

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