Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Fortune
  • Uber submitted an appeal against London's transport regulator on Friday.
  • Transport for London (TfL) stripped Uber of its license last month after discovering unauthorised drivers were using the app, assuming false identities.
  • Uber drivers will still be allowed to operate while the court fight goes on, which could take months or even years.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

Uber submitted an appeal on Friday against a decision by London's transport regulator to strip the taxi app of its right to operate in one its most important markets, setting up a potentially lengthy legal process during which it can continue to take rides.

Transport for London (TfL) refused to grant the Silicon Valley-based company a new license in November due to what it called a "pattern of failures" on safety and security, the latest stage of a long-running battle with the authorities.

Uber, which was also denied a license by TfL in 2017 before a judge restored it on a probationary basis, said it had changed its business model over the last two years and would go further.

"Safety is our top priority which is why we have robust systems and processes in place," said Uber's Northern and Eastern Europe boss Jamie Heywood.

"We are committed to Londoners and are working closely with TfL to address their concerns and requests, as we have since 2017."

TfL director Helen Chapman said it would now be for a magistrate to decide.

"We found Uber not fit and proper to hold a new private hire operator's license on 25 November," she said in a statement. "We note that Uber has submitted an appeal and it will now be for a magistrate to determine if they are fit and proper."

The firm's roughly 45,000 drivers in London will still be able to take rides until the appeals process is exhausted, which could take months or even years.

The regulator said in November that unauthorised drivers were able to upload their photos to other Uber accounts so that on at least 14,000 trips a driver other than the advertised one picked up passengers.

An Uber spokeswoman said Uber had reported the issue voluntarily to TfL. "We uncovered this issue, we raised this with TfL and put in place an effective fix. We are further strengthening our robust systems and processes through a new facial matching processes which we will believe will be the first of its kind in London," she said.

The Silicon Valley company has run into regulatory barriers and a backlash in several markets, forcing it to withdraw completely from places such as Copenhagen and Hungary.

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.

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