uber taxi protest
The global success of driver service app Uber has caused backlash amongst taxi drivers and transport unions.Uber

Transport for London (TfL) has referred issues surrounding the drive-sharing app Uber to the UK High Court following threats from taxi drivers to cause "severe chaos, congestion and confusion across the metropolis".

The California-based company has caused controversy and protest amongst taxi drivers around the world in recent months for not being properly regulated.

First launched in 2009 as an app to allow users to order private cabs and find ride-shares, Uber now operates in more than 100 cities around the world, including London and Manchester.

In the UK, cab drivers claim that the app's ability to calculate fares and act as a taximeter in private vehicles is against the law. Court summonses to six Uber drivers were issued by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) today in test cases that could affect all Uber drivers in the capital.

Despite not finding the service to be in contravention of any regulations, TfL has responded by seeking a "binding" decision from the High Court.

However McNamara said any High Court decision would be unlikely before the end of the year, meaning a planned 11 June protest will go ahead.

"On the issue of taximeters, the law is unclear and we have taken a provisional view. We will be asking the High Court to provide a binding ruling," said Leon Daniels, TfL's managing director of surface transport.

"An American monster"

The LTDA in London announced plans earlier this month to protest TfL's lack of intervention against Uber by creating a city-wide gridlock on 11 June.

"Transport for London not enforcing the Private Hire Vehicles Act is dangerous for Londoners," said Steve McNamara, LTDA's general secretary, referring to Uber as "an American monster that has no qualms about breaching any and all lays in the pursuit of profit.

"I anticipate that the demonstration against TfL's handling of Uber will attract many many thousands of cabs and cause severe chaos, congestion and confusion across the metropolis."

Uber responsed to the criticism this week explaining how its app met current regulations concerning private hire drivers.

"There has been a lot of discussion of late about London's transportation ecosystem," Jo Bertram, general manager at Uber, said in the blogpost. "Uber has been fully licensed as a Private Hire Operator since our launch in London nearly two years ago, and we meet all the required private hire regulations.

"London cabbies are iconic - arguably the best taxis in the world. However, there is room for all and there is room for more and better. We are bringing competition to an industry that hasn't evolved in years."