TfL Ref: FOI-0363-1718
Thank you for your email received by us on 18 May 2017 asking for information provided as part of our licensing process.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our Information Access Policy. I can confirm that we hold the information you require. You asked:
“Could you provide copies of Addison Lee, Uber and MyTaxi's PHV Operator Licence applications?
MyTaxi is not a private hire operator.
In relation to the request for copies of Addison Lee and Uber’s operator licence applications, in accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply the information requested. This is because it is subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section 31(1)(g), which relates to information where disclosure would be likely to prejudice the exercise by any public authority of its functions for any of the purposes listed in subsection 31(2) of the FOI Act, specifically, ‘(2)(c) the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise’.
In this instance the exemption has been applied as the information is held only for the purposes of ascertaining whether a private hire operator is complying with the regulations, in accordance with our responsibility for regulating the private hire trade in London. This information contains details which otherwise would not have been made available to us and the exemption applies to protect our ability to clarify and confirm details on specific issues regarding general licensing concerns. The prejudice would be caused by disclosure because it would affect our ability to engage with the taxi and private hire trade and would inhibit the free flow of information, particularly where there is disclosure of information about new services or innovations. Effective working between the trade and the regulator relies on a safe space where information can be shared at a sufficiently early stage to avoid the need for formal enforcement action. This benefits the public as it enables greater oversight of private hire operators.
The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. We recognise that there is a public interest in understanding the scope of our regulatory activity. However, we feel the balance of the public interest supports the exemption in order to enable the effective and timely sharing of information between ourselves and the taxi and private hire trade.
Disclosure of information about the business processes employed by private companies is also likely to prejudice the commercial interests of those companies if it is disclosed to the wider public, which would include business competitors. This information would also therefore be covered by section 43(2) of the FOI Act which exempts information where disclosure would be likely to prejudice commercial interests.
The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. As stated earlier we recognise that there is a public interest in understanding the scope of our regulatory activity, and whether concerns have been sufficiently addressed. However, we believe that there is a greater public interest in ensuring that companies are able to compete fairly and that the balance of the public interest supports the exemption.
Lastly, it is also likely that some of the information would also be exempt under section 41 of the FOI Act on the grounds that it was provided to us in confidence. Since section 41 is an absolute exemption, we have not gone on to consider the balance of the public interest in respect of this exemption.
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.
FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
Transport for London