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Taxi group wins right to join Uber's London licence appeal case

FILE PHOTO: A photo illustration shows the Uber app and a taxi sign in London, Britain June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Illustration

LONDON (Reuters) - A taxi association will be able to participate in Uber’s appeal against the loss of its operating licence in the British capital city set to be heard in full from July 6, a British judge decided on Thursday.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association will be an interested party in the case, giving it access to documents and meaning it could make submissions, Chief Magistrate of England and Wales Emma Arbuthnot ruled.

Transport for London (TfL) in November refused a renewal request from the Silicon Valley-based company to keep operating in one of its most important markets, citing safety failures.

Uber says it has made a number of changes to the way it operates to enhance safety, combat discrimination and abuse and boost the rights of drivers.

The firm’s roughly 45,000 drivers in London can continue to take rides until the appeals process is exhausted, which may last months or years.

In London, black cab drivers who see Uber as a threat to their livelihoods have blocked streets in protest, arguing that they are being unfairly undercut by an inferior service.

Uber and TfL have been engaged in a long-running battle since TfL rejected a renewal request in 2017, citing shortcomings in the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and driver background checks.

Arbuthnot in 2018 then granted Uber a probationary 15-month licence, after the company made several changes to its business model.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and James Davey

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