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Uber wins right to take TfL to court over English tests for drivers

Published 01/09/2016

Uber said TfL's plans threaten the livelihoods of thousands of drivers in London
Uber said TfL's plans threaten the livelihoods of thousands of drivers in London

Uber has won the right to take Transport for London (TfL) to court over new rules that would force its drivers to pass stringent English tests.

The company said it has successfully applied for judicial review of certain regulations put forward in TfL's licensing proposals for private hire drivers that are currently set to take effect on October 1.

A judicial review was granted for rules that would force thousands of its drivers pass an English language test before being able to work in the UK capital, order Uber to open a 24-hour call centre in London and notify TfL of any changes to its operating model.

Tom Elvidge, the general manager at Uber London, said: "We're pleased that the judge has decided this case deserves a hearing.

"TfL's plans threaten the livelihoods of thousands of drivers in London, while also stifling tech companies like Uber."

TfL's new rules would require private hire drivers from non-English speaking countries to meet a B1 level of English in speaking, listening, reading and writing under Common European Framework standards.

Uber said it supports spoken English skills, but claims the exam goes beyond requirements for British citizenship as well as rules governing public sector workers.

"Only 0.5% of all our rider feedback last month was about poor English," Uber claimed.

The judicial review will also examine rules ordering Uber to create a London-based 24-hour call centre. Uber stressed that there is no similar requirement for black cabs, and that the only way to lodge a complaint for a black taxi is through an online form via the TfL website.

In addition, the new proposals will require Uber to notify TfL of any changes to their app, a move which the company says would slow down the roll-out of new features.

A Transport for London spokesman said: "We note that the court has refused permission for judicial review of the principle and standard of English language test, the requirement for hire and reward insurance and the ability for customers to speak to someone by telephone.

"The changes to private hire regulation were made to enhance public safety and we are determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market, with space for all providers to flourish. We look forward to the remaining issues being resolved in due course."

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