Drivers attempting to obtain a minicab license in the city of London will now have to pass an English written exam, including an essay of 120 words after the ride-sharing company lost a battle with the UK’s high courts against London’s transport authority.
The presiding judge Justice Mitting stated that the new requirement for Uber drivers may see 40,000 of the current drivers fail the exam or delay applying for a vehicle license for private car hire.
Uber said that they will appeal against the verdict, and the company’s London-based director Tom Elvidge called it a “deeply disappointing outcome for tens of thousands of drivers who will lose their livelihoods because they cannot pass an essay writing test”.
“We’ve always supported spoken English skills, but writing an essay has nothing to do with communicating with passengers or getting them safely from A to B,” Elvidge said.
Sadiq Khan, mayor of London stated: “I’m delighted that the courts have today backed my plans to drive up standards and improve passenger safety in London.
“Drivers being able to speak English and understand information from passengers and licensing requirements is a vital part of ensuring passengers get the high standard of service they need and deserve.
“This could include discussing a better route, talking about a medical condition, or ensuring every driver is fully up to date with new regulations.”
The representative for Uber as well as three of their drivers, Tom de la Mare QC, argued that this language requirement may result in over 33,000 existing Uber drivers to lose their livelihoods.
Uber claimed that these proposals will have a large impact on their drivers who hail from countries that do not have English as a main language and may “indirect discrimination on grounds of race and nationality” to rise.