United Trade Action Group Ltd (claimant/appellant) v Transport for London (respondent) & anr
Wednesday 6th – Thursday 7th July 2022
By Appellant’s Notice filed on 21 December 2021, United Trade Action Group (“C”) appeals against the Order of Lord Justice Males and the Mr Justice Fraser (Divisional Court) dated 6 December 2021, which dismissed most of C’s claim for Judicial Review and ordered C to pay costs.
Facts: The context of this appeal is that in Uber BV v Aslam  UKSC 5,  ICR 657 an issue arose whether private hire vehicle drivers providing services to passengers through the Uber app were to be regarded as “workers” within the meaning of various provisions of employment protection legislation. The Supreme Court held that they were. In the course of his judgment, with which the other members of the Court agreed, Lord Leggatt considered an argument advanced by Uber that it was acting as agent of the driver. He suggested, albeit without finally deciding the point, that in order to comply with the provisions of the 1998 Act, Uber would have to accept a contractual obligation to the passenger as a principal to carry out the booking. There were two claims before the Divisional Court.
(1) First, in Part 8 proceedings Uber, supported by Free Now (each operators licensed under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 (“the 1998 Act”), claims a declaration that an operator licensed under the 1998 Act who accepts a booking from a passenger is not required by the Act to enter as principal into a contractual obligation with the passenger to provide the journey in respect of that booking. In other words, Uber and Free Now say that Lord Leggatt’s suggestion in Uber v Aslam is wrong.
(2) Second, in judicial review proceedings the United Trade Action Group Ltd (“UTAG”), the trade association for (among others) hackney carriage (or black cab) drivers, seeks to quash the decision made on 9th August 2020 by Transport for London (“TfL”) as the regulator to renew Free Now’s operator’s licence under the 1998 Act. It does so on two grounds, (1) that according to Free Now’s own terms and conditions, bookings are accepted by private hire vehicle drivers and not by Free Now itself, which is unlawful because, under the 1998 Act, the booking must be accepted by Free Now as the licensed operator; and (2) that private hire vehicles ply for hire in London using the Free Now app, which is unlawful as only licensed hackney carriage drivers can lawfully ply for hire.