The Strategist

Uber to sue London authorities over English exams

08/18/2016 - 15:20

The British division of Uber announced its intention to sue the Department of Transport in London. The latter wants all private taxi drivers from non-English speaking countries to have compulsorily taken an exam for English proficiency by October. Uber said that a court should verify legitimacy of such claims, which may damage the company's business.

L.A. Foodie via flickr
L.A. Foodie via flickr
Since the beginning of this year, the London government announced several plans for private taxi companies. One of these requirements is that all the capital’s taxi drivers, involved in private taxi service, must pass speaking and writing English language exams. The authorities believe that such measures should ensure safety of consumers and promote normal communication between taxi drivers and passengers. "These rules are introduced to ensure public security when using private taxi services. We want to create a transparent private taxis market, "- said the department in a statement. 

Uber has opposed these plans, which can cause damage to its operations in London. There, the company cooperates with many private taxi drivers, including immigrants from countries where English is not the national language. Now, the company has decided to apply to court, and find out whether such a requirement is consistent with the law. The statement of claim to the court has not been filed yet. In accordance with the procedure established by the British laws, Uber submitted to the Department of Transportation a written notice of its intention to start the trial. If the authorities refuse, the company has the right to formally sue.

"This lawsuit is our last attempt, - said Tom Elvidge, General Manager of Uber London. - We are very disappointed that after long consultations with the Department of Transportation, the rules still change at the last minute, and some new requirements, which are harmful both to drivers and the company, are introduced". Uber has about 30 thousand drivers in London. According to the company’s estimates, the new requirements could affect thousands of drivers. The company agrees with the authorities that taxi drivers have to speak English to communicate with the passenger, but believe that the proposed exams are too harsh for drivers.