Uber once again finds itself in the spot light and another attempted court case, this time, from the London cabbies themselves.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said it was seeking advice from a reputable law firm about the potential of a class action against the app driven lift hailing service, Uber. The cabbies of London are claiming that since the introduction of Uber back in 2012, they have all lost an average of £10,000 a year in earnings and as such, now look to press a court case for ‘foul play’.
Do the cabbies have a case though? Is being able to sue another company for simply being ‘competitive’ even fair or legitimate in its own right?
Initial reactions towards the cab drivers’ claims are sceptical and don’t believe there is a fair case. One would view the move as simple an evolution of the taxi industry and cabbies are urged to maybe keep up themselves.
Lawyers stress that “disruptive technologies have always been legal and have always been so” with one commenter suggesting “Hore breeders did not sure the inventor of the combustion engine”.
Generally, the law is in favour of competition and there are even significant laws that are designed to protect competition on price, innovation, quality and service. Ultimately, you don’t see huge retailers suing Amazon simply because it is cheaper and quicker to deliver.
Should a customer use a competitor, this is simply business.
For there to be an actual case for a court, there needs to be an infringement of some sort. Most commonly, one company would need to steel the other companies technology. An example of this would be Apple and Samsung where the court case rattled on for years. As of at the moment, Uber has clearly not stolen any tech from the cabbies.
Secondly, a company must not pass off its services under the name of another. With most Uber drivers opting for standard cars, most namely a prius, it is quite evident they are not trying to pass themselves off as black cabs.
Thirdly, a company cannot win a contract or licence through controlling or manipulating the application process. Given Uber has just wrapped up its court case where the London Licensing Authority revoked its license, again, it is rather clear they have no control over that either.
Fourth, a company may not poach its competitors staff in a bid to become more competitive. Well, cab drivers are all self-employed so no poaching possible.
It could be argued as unfair given that black cab drivers must pass an exam on ‘knowledge of routes’ and Uber drivers can just download their up, gain an Uber Insurance and drive.
At this moment in time, it would look like the cabbies will have to revisit the drawing board OR pursuit the TFL for allowing a London based taxi company to operate without equal qualification to themselves.