Uber wins right to challenge driver English tests

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Uber has won the right to take Transport for London (TfL) to court over new rules that would force its drivers to pass English tests.

TfL wanted all private-hire drivers who are not from English-speaking countries to be tested from 1 October.

Uber said it had successfully applied for judicial review of some regulations put forward in TfL’s licensing proposals for private-hire drivers.

A TfL spokesman said it was making the changes “to enhance public safety”.

The examination would test reading, writing and listening skills.

‘Threaten livelihoods’

Uber will also challenge the requirement that all private-hire companies must have a customer call centre in London that passengers can ring during a ride and that TfL must be notified of any changes to its operating model.

Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber London, said: “We’re pleased that the judge has decided this case deserves a hearing.

“TfL’s plans threaten the livelihoods of thousands of drivers in London, while also stifling tech companies like Uber.”

Uber had initially supported the test, but now argues that the requirement that drivers provide a certificate showing they have an intermediate level of reading and writing is unnecessary and costly.

It has more than 30,000 drivers in London and estimates thousands would be affected by the change.

TfL said: “We note that the court has refused permission for judicial review of the principle and standard of English language test, the requirement for hire and reward insurance and the ability for customers to speak to someone by telephone.

“The changes to private-hire regulation were made to enhance public safety and we are determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market, with space for all providers to flourish.

“We look forward to the remaining issues being resolved in due course.”

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