High Court asked to rule if smartphones are taximeters
- TfL, LTDA, LPHCA and Uber are interested parties in the case and are all asking the High Court for clarification on this important issue
- Taxi and Private Hire drivers, businesses and the public urged to take part in the consultation on private hire regulations that is now also underway
Transport for London (TfL), the taxi body LTDA, Uber, and the private hire body LPHCA are asking the High Court to make a declaration on whether smartphones, used by some private hire drivers, are taximeters.
The case, to be heard on 5 and 6 October, sees the High Court asked to make a declaration on whether smartphones, which use GPS technology and connect to external servers for the calculation of fares, comply with the law on taximeters, which are prohibited in private hire vehicles in London.
The rapid pace at which smartphone-based technology has developed in recent years has led to a need for clarity about what is required in order for apps to comply with the regulatory framework in London, to ensure there is a level playing field for all operators.
TfL's view, on balance, is that the smartphones are not taximeters but that there are clearly arguments to the contrary and there is a significant public interest in resolving the matter definitively. When a judgment is given TfL will apply the law as declared by the High Court.
In addition to the High Court case, TfL is currently holding a consultation on Private Hire regulations, which builds on an initial public consultation that took place in the spring and TfL's ongoing engagement with representatives across the black taxi and Private Hire trades. The consultation, which is aimed at modernising the regulations, presents a number of potential changes to the regulations that had support during the initial consultation and the subsequent engagement process.
TfL is encouraging members of the taxi and private hire trades, businesses and members of the public who use private hire services to respond to the consultation and give their views about which proposals they agree with and which they don't.
Leon Daniels, TfL's Managing Director of Surface Transport, said:
'London is one of the world's great technology centres - and we celebrate that. Technology has also significantly changed the way that the taxi and Private Hire industries operate. In order to move with these changes, whilst still ensuring the safest and best possible journeys for passengers, it is in everyone's interest to bring legal clarity to the issue of taximeters and to review the current regulations that were written well before smartphones were invented.
"The consultation we are running has various ideas that came out of the earlier consultation and discussions with the taxi and private hire trades and others. These include stricter rules on insurance, English language and navigational skills. Other ideas around changing the rules governing the use of Apps are clearly more controversial, and we want as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and tell us their views.'
The consultation will run for 12 weeks and closes on 23 December and you can respond at TfL's website.
Notes to Editors:
- For further information and to respond to the consultation see: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/tph/private-hire-proposals
- The consultation will run for 12 weeks and close on 23 December 2015.
- Details of the original Private Hire Regulations Review consultation (which ran from 27 March to 19 June 2015) can be found here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/tph/private-hire-regulations-review
- TfL's vision for the future of the taxi and private hire trade is published here: https://tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/taxi-and-private-hire-strategy2.pdf