Request ID: FOI-0889-2122 Date published: 06 September 2021
Did TfL write to Cribble in 2019 saying?
In paragraph 33 of the judgment of the Divisional Court in Reading Borough Council v Ali  EWHC 200 the Divisional Court held that Uber London Limited was not in breach of the prohibition on plying for hire because “the mere depiction of the respondent’s vehicle… without either the vehicle or the driver being specifically identified or the customer using the App being able to select that vehicle, is insufficient…” to amount to plying for hire.?
Information in regards to TPH Notice 01/19
Can you please tell me if this is TFL's position regarding private hire vehicles plying for hire on apps?
Drivers who accepted bookings through the Cribble app would have been in breach of the prohibition on plying for hire and the reason for this is:
In paragraph 33 of the judgment of the Divisional Court in Reading Borough Council v Ali  EWHC 200 the Divisional Court held that Uber London Limited was not in breach of the prohibition on plying for hire because “the mere depiction of the respondent’s vehicle… without either the vehicle or the driver being specifically identified or the customer using the App being able to select that vehicle, is insufficient…” to amount to plying for hire.
TFL understood that vehicles and drivers are specifically identified on the Cribble app and that passengers may have selected them directly from the Cribble app. On that basis, TFL considered that private hire drivers on the Cribble app were plying for hire?
Our Ref: FOI-0889-2122
Thank you for your request received on 3 August 2021 asking for information about plying for hire on apps.
Your request has been processed in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy.
Please note that in accordance with Section 31(1)(g) we are not obliged to confirm or deny whether the email referred to in your correspondence was sent by TfL. Section 31(1)(g) 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 we exchange with operators on their operations would be held only for the purposes of ascertaining whether they are complying with the regulations, in accordance with our responsibility for regulating the private hire trade in London. The exemption applies to protect our ability to clarify and confirm details on specific issues regarding general licensing matters. The prejudice would be caused by confirming whether or not the information was sent by us 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 confidential and commercially sensitive data. 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 and commenting on the veracity of communications on this subject would be detrimental to that safe space. This benefits the public as it enables greater oversight of private hire operators and better scrutiny of services by the regulator and our benefit because proactive discussion avoids costly enforcement activity, delayed access to information and increased bureaucracy. 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 regulatory activity, and whether concerns have been sufficiently addressed. 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.
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.
Gemma Jacob Senior FOI Case Officer FOI Case Management Team General Counsel Transport for London