back to article Uber's gig economy business model takes a blow from London legal double-whammy

London taxi-hailing apps cannot dump their legal obligations on gig economy drivers, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales has ruled in a blow to Uber. The court said this morning [PDF] that Germany-based taxi app Free Now could not operate in the English capital without taking on legal liability for delivering the taxi …

  1. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Level playing field

    Ubers statement covers it, everyone has the same obligations to their drivers.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Level playing field

      Uber, as common in today's cutthroat economies, wanted to experience profit through being the middleman to other people's labors, whilst simultaneously denying any responsibility for even being involved at all.

      Big, big surprise.

      1. Persona

        Re: Level playing field

        From my perspective Uber is the value provider. It gets you a taxi where you don't need to worry that the driver isn't turning up, taking you on a detour or trying to charge you outrageous extras or simply not forcing a stop at a cashpoint for to get cash, and later demanding money with menaces. All of which happened to my daughter in the last few weeks.

        Uber allows you to track the safe journey of those you care for and an provides an easy and effective route to complain. Given a choice between a "licensed" taxi and an Uber all of my daughters and millions like them would choose an Uber even if it cost more. This is a great problem for the licensed taxi firms: they are facing a competitor that is both cheaper and more appealing to the customer.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Level playing field

          I think you are confusing the app with the ride operator.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Level playing field

            Are Uber still responsible for vetting the drivers? That makes it clear cut in my mind. The drivers work for Uber.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Level playing field

          from my perspective under this ruling. previously if you booked an ride and the driver didn't turn up, Uber (notwithstanding what it did do in any given case) could wash its hands of the situation if it so desired.

          And now, if you ride doesn't turn up Uber is still responsible for providing you with a ride.

          1. Persona

            Re: Level playing field

            You can see where your Uber is. If it's not coming you can cancel and get another or make alternative arrangements. When your local taxi to the airport doesn't turn up and their office is closed you are left in the lurch not knowing if it's just late or the driver decided to sleep in rather than drive you to the airport. This has happened to me a couple of times in the non Uber place I live.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Level playing field

          Downvoters have presumably never tried flagging down a black cab while being black !

        4. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: Level playing field

          More appealing, possibly. Cheaper? Only if you ignore the susidy that Uber applies in order to buy business.

          Cab companies in towns outside London now use apps that work just as well. There seems to be a web-cab-hailing system that gets white-labelled everywhere.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Level playing field

        "denying any responsibility for even being involved at all."

        And yet Amazon, which also exploits drivers, still takes responsibility for package delivery. As it (and Uber) should.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Level playing field

        ...wanted to experience profit through being the middleman to other people's labors, whilst simultaneously denying any responsibility for even being involved at all.

        Perfectly stated.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish more jurisdictions would realize that "on the internet" and "as a service" are just ploys to try to escape legislation for what a business ACTUALLY does, such as delivering food or providing a ride. There are clear precedents and regulations for those services and jobs in the real world, and just plonking a computer or cloud node into the picture should never be allowed to be used as an excuse for avoiding those obligations.

    But the general public is enamored with computers and "the web." Stick it on a screen and they get all dewey eyed even if they've been doing the same thing their whole real life.

    Face it. People want to believe the flim-flam artists and the get-rich-quick schemes. That is the entire reason for being for the vast majority of grift and scamming in the entire world - letting people convince themselves that your line of BS is true and that they should do everything you tell them if they want to "get rich."

    And the governments don't want to be seen as "holding back progress", so they turn a blind eye when complaints start getting raised by the incumbent service providers.

    And thus Uber and a host of copy-cats and related "sharing" and "contract" services were born to gouge on every front - the provider, the driver, and the customer. Three fees for one trip - what a scam, eh? (The driver's "fee" is the fact that they are so grotesquely underpaid for driving that they probably lose money once they take wear and tear and depreciation of their vehicle into account.)

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Aren't black cab drivers self employed ?

      Personally I'm fully on-board with the medieval guild model.

      If people without the maths degrees knowledge weren't allowed to touch these calculating machines the world would be a better place

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I wonder: Does YAAc know YACC? :)

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Downvote because you can write an operating system without having a maths degree. Having "common sense" and having a "formal qualification" are not equivalent. I know people who have one but not the other, in both senses.

  3. martinusher Silver badge


    That term's a tad pejorative, surely?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not ride sharing

    I do not agree with Uber and their ilk calling themselves ride sharing services. Ride sharing is when two or more people need to get from a similar origin point to a similar destination point and share a vehicle to share the costs.

    Getting in a vehicle at an origin location the driver would otherwise have no interest in being at, to a destination location that the driver would otherwise have no interest in being at in exchange for money is a taxi/private cab business.

    Good that some jurisdictions do see this and treat them appropriately.

    1. Is It Me

      Re: Not ride sharing

      I am not an Uber fan, but I believe the original idea was that it was a way of setting up ride share that shifted when it realised it could make more with the ride hailing/taxi option

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just when getting a taxi got a little *too* convenient and easy. Here's to the black cab lobby, and their bosses at TfL, who handily also regulate that industry in London. Let's make getting a cab as awful as it used to be.

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