Judge, Regulators Discuss One-Year Uber London License Renewal

The company would be under stricter scrutiny as part of the deal.

byStephen Edelstein|
Car Tech photo

On the second day of a hearing in the Westminster Magistrates' Court, Judge Emma Arbuthnot asked regulators if a one-year renewal of the license would be possible, reports Bloomberg. Arbuthnot said she would issue a ruling at 5:00 p.m. local time.

Helen Chapman, licensing director of Transport for London (TfL), the city's transportation agency, said that if Uber's license was renewed, the company would face regular audits. TfL declined to renew the license when it expired in September 2017, citing concerns over multiple Uber policies, such as how the company conducted background checks.

"We've had five years of a very difficult relationship where Uber has felt it hasn't required regulation," Chapman told the judge on Tuesday.

In court, Uber has argued that it has changed its corporate culture and addressed TfL's concerns. TfL has taken a "neutral" stance, acknowledging the change's Uber has made but question how quickly the company can realistically change, according to Bloomberg. Uber is allowed to continue operating in London while it appeals TfL's decision not to renew its license. The company claims to have around 45,000 drivers and 3.6 million users in the British capital.

Thomas de la Mare, Uber's lawyer, asked for a 15-month permit, which would include the time it took carry out and certify the audits, reports Bloomberg. He acknowledged the need for third-party monitoring of Uber, saying that "we did some things that were in hindsight pretty stupid, to be frank."

A favorable decision by Arbuthnot would be a victory for Uber, but it's still unclear how long the appeals process will take. Conversely, Uber may appeal any decision not to renew its license, keeping the company in court but allowing its drivers to continue giving rides for the time being.