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Courts To Decide If Uber Is Breaking London Taxi Laws

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Late last month, France upheld the law that banned Uber's UberPop service.

Now, the High Court in London is currently examining whether Uber's ride-hailing app is in line with the country's existing taxi rules or in violation of them. In hearing the issue Monday and Tuesday, the Court will decide if Uber's app should count as a taximeter. If smartphones are considered as taximeters, it could mean that Uber is breaking London's taxi law.

Although the Transport for London, a local governing body, already said the app isn't a taximeter, it left the issue for the High Court to ultimately rule on.

London mayor Boris Johnson praised the tech company in his weekly Telegraph column for the overall job it's doing, but warned that it must play by the rules and follow the country's laws.

"You no longer need to see a vehicle to hail it. Your phone will see it for you. It will see round corners; it will see in the dark. You no longer need to hail a taxi by sticking your arm out or shouting; you just press a button and within minutes-seconds-the car will be at your side," Johnson wrote. "You only have to consider the habits of many Uber minicabs — not all, but many — to see that this law is systematically broken; and that is because technology makes it so easy for it to be broken."

Uber, predictably, is saying its app is not a taximeter, while awaiting final word from the High Court.

"We believe the Uber app on a partner-driver's phone is not a taximeter, and TfL — the regulator — shares this view," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement, as reported by multiple media outlets. "We are looking forward to getting binding clarity on this issue in the High Court. However, the outcome of the case would not affect Uber's license in London, or its ability to operate here."

Still, if the Court rules that Uber's app is indeed a taximeter, the company will likely have to bend its existing policies to comply with London's regulations.

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