The Administrative Court in London was recently involved in an application by the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) to rule on whether Uber London Limited, which holds a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) license would operate in breach of the law. The issue was whether the GPS system and app they use for their business would amount to a taxi-meter. As matter of fact, a Uber customer receives (after using the service) an email confirming payment and the breakdown of the fare, consisting of base fare, distance travelled and time taken.
Section 11 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 states as follows:
“11. Prohibition of equipped with a taximeter
(1) No vehicle to which a London PHV licence relates shall be taximeters.(2) If such a vehicle is equipped with a
taximeter, the owner of that vehicle is guilty of an offence and liable on
summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale. (3) In this section "taximeter"
means a device for calculating the fare to be charged in respect of any journey
by reference to the distance travelled or time elapsed since the start of the journey (or a combination of both).”
Mr Justice Ouseley said: “In my judgement, these private hire vehicles are not equipped with a taxi meter as defined by Section 11”. Therefore, Uber is not operating illegally in that respect.
The battle between LTDA and Uber may not be over yet, as there has been suggestions that Mr Justice Ouseley’s decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court.
"In my judgement, these private hire vehicles are not equipped with a taxi meter as defined by Section 11 [of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act]," Mr Justice Ouseley said. "The driver's smartphone is not a device for calculating fares by itself in conjunction with [a server], and even if it were, the vehicle is not equipped with it."