It has now been confirmed that minicab operator Addison Lee (under their parent company Eventech) has lost a legal challenge at the European Court of Justice to allow its vehicles to use London’s bus lanes.
They had claimed having lanes for (cycles and) buses, which black cabs are also allowed to use, infringed its freedom to provide services and could constitute illegal state aid.
In a bitter blow to them however, the EU court ruled the usage of bus lanes did not constitute state aid and Eventech have yet to comment as of writing (14th January).
TfL (Transport for London) welcomed the ruling as the judgement is the latest in a dispute between TfL and the minicab company.
TfL’s managing director of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels, said: “We welcome the opinion from the Advocate General and now the European Court of Justice, but ultimately await the decision of the Court of Appeal.
“As this process continues we are maintaining our well-understood and effective policy that helps to keep London moving in the interest of everyone.”
Above all and crucially, TfL allows black cabs to drive in bus lanes as they can ply for hire, whereas minicabs cannot.
Whilst EU law prohibits aid being granted by member states that could distort competition by favouring certain companies, the court rejected the view that the policy imposed by TfL could be seen as a type subsidy that favoured black cabs, which are commonly known to be subject to strict standards.
The EU court said because of the legal status of black cabs the “policy does not confer a selective economic advantage” on the vehicles.
Interestingly, the EU court recognised TfL policy could make the provision and access of minicabs “less attractive” in the London area and reduce their ability to penetrate the market because of this
Way back in 2012 Addison Lee formerly instructed its drivers to go into bus lanes, complaining that the policy was “unfair discrimination”, but Transport for London obtained an injunction to prevent the firm breaking the rules. Furthermore, the High Court dismissed (Eventech’s) Addison Lee’s application but the company since obtained permission to take its case to the Court of Appeal.
This latest judgement by the European Court of Justice will be returned to the Court of Appeal and the minicab firms last redress to appeal is with the Supreme Court.
There is a distinction within cheap taxi insurance between private hire and public hire. Whilst both come under the jurisdiction of cheap pco insurance, the insurance industry does charge a different rate. The cheapest pco insurance is often afforded to public hire as the cheapest minicab insurance.