English Language Test Threatens Thousands Of London Uber drivers


On Tuesday, Uber said that thousands of Londons private drivers might lose their licenses as a result of the new English reading and writing requirements. The company has geared up for a court battle to halt the plans.

The company, which is based in San Francisco, is founded on a mobile phone application that allows users to hail privately owned cars as taxis. Despite its rapid growth, the company has faced bans and protests around the world as regulators play catch-up with technology disrupting traditional operators.

The lawsuit

In August, Uber filed legal action against the public body Transport for London (TfL) after it said that drivers should have to prove their ability to communicate in English, including to a standard of reading and writing which Uber claims to be too high.

Thomas de la Mare, Uber’s lawyer, told the High Court in London that such regulations produce the profoundest of human effects and that they might lead to the loss of livelihood.

De la Mare told the court that according calculation of data provided by TfL, there are over 110,000 private hire drivers in the British capital, but around 33,000 would fail to pass their renewal test due to the new language hurdle

Regulate a growing sector

TfL stated that it’s imperative for public safety that drivers can communicate in English at an appropriate level. It also needs to regulate this sector better, as it has grown significantly in recent years, which lead to congestion.

The body also is pushing for drivers to have private insurance even when vehicles are not being used to carry passengers, and that services such as Uber to set up 24 hours a day call centers.

The proposals came after drivers of London’s famous black cabs demonstrated against private hire firms fearing they will undermine their business model by not meeting the same standards and charging less for journeys.

The High Court will hear the case until Thursday but it will not rule before a few weeks.