Divisional Court confirms that Uber is required to contract directly with passengers


ITN represented the App Drivers & Couriers Union in its successful defence of a claim brought by Uber London Limited. In rejecting Uber’s claim the Divisional Court granted the relief sought by the ADCU and made the following declaration:

In order to operate lawfully under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 a licensed operator who accepts a booking from a passenger is required to enter as principal into a contractual obligation with the passenger to provide the journey which is the subject of the booking

In these proceedings Uber and another private hire operator had sought to suggest that they were not required to contract with passengers directly.  This was emphatically rejected by the Divisional Court, which held that Uber’s case was inconsistent with the language and the purpose of the 1998 Act, namely to promote passenger safety, at [30].

The Divisional Court ruling underpins the Supreme Court’s decision in Uber v Aslam & Others [2021] UKSC 5, which confirmed that Uber’s drivers are classified as ‘workers’ for the purposes of employment law. The declaration confirms Lord Leggatt’s obiter observations to the same effect in Aslam, at [46-49].

This is an important judgment for both workers’ rights and for passenger safety. It now falls to Transport for London to enforce the Court’s ruling and review the contractual terms of operator’s seeking and acting under private hire licences, to ensure that they comply with the 1998 Act, see at [36]. Furthermore the Court has suggested that TfL needs to review the contracts of operators so as to identify terms which seek to exclude liability to passengers, suggesting that such terms are “hard to reconcile with the purpose of the legislation as we have described it.”.

The ADCU was represented by William Kenyon. Counsel was Jason Galbraith-Marten QC of Cloisters Chambers. The judgment can be found here

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