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Driver use of Uber app is not plying for hire

A trade association has failed in its attempt to bring a private prosecution against a licensed private hire driver who drove using the Uber app.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association brought a private prosecution against a driver who was licensed as a private hire driver by Transport for London, claiming that he was plying for hire. The Association had employed two private detectives in what they claimed was a "sting" operation.

The basis for the sting was that one of them booked the driver through the app and then took a ride, while the other filmed the operation. The gravamen of the prosecution was that the ability to see a car on the app meant that the car was plying for hire.

The Defendant's case was that driving in accordance with the Uber app is obviously not plying for hire.

The Defendant's legal team then requested the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to take over the prosecution and discontinue it. This power is given to the CPS under section 6(2) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. It is very rarely exercised.

In this case, however, the CPS did decide to take over the prosecution and discontinue it. The prosecution was, therefore, nipped in the bud.

The case shows that the CPS will in fact intervene in unwarranted private prosecutions, of which this was one.

Philip Kolvin QC acted for the Defendant, instructed by Woods Whur Solicitors.