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Uber wins UK High Court battle against London black cabs

Taxi-hailing app Uber has won a major court case in the U.K. today, being declared legal by the High Court. The decision is a major blow to black cab groups in London, who called on Transport for London (TfL) to investigate the app a few months ago.

Black cab groups claim calculating the cost of a journey through GPS and external servers should be considered metering, which is illegal for private hire vehicles in the UK. The High Court ruled in favor of Uber however, finding that the app does not work in the same way as a taximeter.

Most of the government appears to be in favor of Uber’s disruptive entry into the UK. Even the Mayor of London Boris Johnson changed his mind on the app, and now considers it a useful service for the people of London, even if he would like it to “play by the rules.”

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), which represents most of the 25,000 black cabs in the capital, intends to appeal the decision. The group wants a mandatory five-minute wait time, and wants to block Uber’s ability to show the nearest cabs on its app. Surge pricing is another area where the taxi unions want to see clarity, claiming that customers could be overcharged without even knowing.

LTDA has the backing of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA), but apart from taxi unions there isn’t a lot of support for another appeal. Londoners strongly supported Uber through an online petition which reached 133,000 signatures, showing that the app has won over customers.

Other unions are pushing for more workers’ rights, including the minimum wage and paid leave for drivers. Uber has argued that its cab service offers new opportunities for drivers to make more money, and balance their schedule.

A black cab strike is rumored to be in the works, alongside lobbying by the taxi unions to push a new appeal into court. In France, taxi drivers went on a violent strike, which resulted in the UberPOP service getting banned from the country. Other countries like Germany, South Korea, and Spain have also banned the taxi service in the past, showing that not all countries welcome the market disruption that Uber brings.