After a nine-month-long banishment, Uber is returning to London.
A British Magistrates’ Court ruled Tuesday that the controversy-plagued company is “fit and proper” to hold a 15-month probationary licence to operate in one of the world’s largest markets.
A judge kicked the ride-hailing giant out of the country last fall, citing concerns about the safety related to background checks of the company’s drivers and crime reporting.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot granted the license in a ruling Tuesday. The 15-month reprieve is far less than the five-year private hire license the company had previously received or the 18-month approval originally sought by Uber at the court hearing. In September, Transport for London said Uber wasn’t “fit and proper” because of safety and governance concerns.
The ruling came after one-and-a-half days of arguments in which lawyers for Uber insisted the global ride-sharing app had completely overhauled its culture, passenger safety policies, and reset its testy relationship with the regulator. For TfL’s part, it effectively disengaged from the dispute and said that the main concerns had been addressed.
“Such a young business has suffered a number of growing pains which have not been helped by what seemed to be a rather gung-ho attitude of those running the business in the very recent past,” Arbuthnot said in the ruling. “The attitude of the previous managers of Uber appeared to me on the evidence to be that of grow the business come what may.”
More than 3.6 million people regularly use the Uber app in London. The ban had the firm at risk of being excluded from its biggest market in Europe at a time when it was already reeling from harassment suits, employment claims, and regulatory probes around the world.
(c) 2018, Bloomberg · Jeremy Hodges, Jonathan Browning, Áine Quinn, Peter Holley