Australia: Roadblocks in London but Uber route looks clear in Australia

The recent decision by Transport for London (TfL) not to renew Uber's licence to operate in London, citing public safety and security concerns, took many by surprise. In reality, however, it's by no means the first time Uber has run into difficulties with regulators around the world.

Earlier this year, Uber pulled out of the Danish market, where it had amassed 2,000 drivers and more than 300,000 customers. This withdrawal followed a long-running battle with Danish regulators. In May 2017, a Rome court blocked the use of the Uber app, citing unfair competition grounds. Interestingly, this followed a six-day national strike by Italy's powerful taxi associations. While an appeal court lifted the ban, this only related to the platform's premium Uber Black service which means that its Uber X service remains effectively outlawed throughout Italy. In Hungary, Uber suspended its operations in Budapest in 2016 after restrictive legislation was passed by the government. And it's not just a European trend.

In Canada, Uber is considering pulling out of the Quebec market if legislation is passed requiring Uber drivers to undergo police criminal records checks and to do the 35 hours of training expected of regular taxi drivers. While in Brazil – Uber's second largest market outside the USA – the legislature is, this month, debating a bill which would require ridesharing companies to acquire special permits, which may cause Uber to completely rethink its strategy in Brazil.

So, what does all this mean for the future of ride-sharing, and Uber, in Australia? It's a timely question, particularly given that new ride-sharing laws commenced in NSW earlier this month. Let's look at the UK case and consider any parallels.


TfL concluded Uber was not 'fit and proper' to hold a private hire operator licence and decided not to renew its licence to operate in London after 30 September 2017. TfL stated Uber's conduct had demonstrated a 'lack of corporate responsibility', identifying four issues it claimed had potential public safety and security implications, including Uber's:

  1. approach to reporting serious criminal offences;
  2. approach to obtaining medical certificates;
  3. approach to obtaining criminal record checks for drivers; and
  4. reluctance to give regulatory bodies access to 'Greyball' – which is an aspect of Uber's ride-hailing software.

TfL's decision was a regulatory slap-down for the 40,000 licensed Ubers drivers in London and the more than 3.5 million Londoners who regularly use the service.

Unsurprisingly, the legal and public relations response to the decision has been swift. In mid-October, Uber lodged an appeal against TfL's decision with Westminster Magistrates' Court. The first hearing is likely to take place on 11 December and Uber drivers will remain on the roads in London until the appeal process has been exhausted. A petition has also been launched by Londoners calling for Uber's licence to be reinstated, which has attracted over 850,000 signatures at the time of writing.


Prompted by TfL's decision, the Transport Workers Union in Australia has written to the state and federal transport ministers requesting an audit of Uber, to ensure it is operating to 'community standards about safety and fairness'1. With the recent commencement of new ridesharing regulations in a number of Australian jurisdictions, governments will be keeping a close eye on Uber's performance.


Ridesharing apps such as Uber are regulated by the state and territory governments, and have been legalised in all states and territories apart from the Northern Territory2. In most jurisdictions, the process of legalising ridesharing has taken place in two steps:

  • stage one saw the introduction of interim measures to legalise ridesharing under the existing transport legislation, in response to overwhelming popular support; and
  • stage two has seen the introduction of new legislation to comprehensively regulate both ridesharing booking providers (such as Uber) and drivers.

As the stage two reforms come into effect, ridesharing booking providers and drivers should be wary of the expanded duties of care they owe passengers.


In NSW, the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Act 2016 and the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Regulation 2017 (NSW Legislation) came into effect on 1 November this year.

The NSW legislation outlines a comprehensive legislative framework for the ridesharing industry, and imposes a range of duties on booking providers and drivers, which sets high standards for driver and vehicle safety.

Under the NSW legislation, booking service providers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of drivers and passengers, so far as reasonably practicable – these include eliminating risks to safety3. The NSW Government has stated that a booking provider's duty of care includes:

  • ensuring that any safety equipment in the vehicle is working and the driver knows how to use it; and
  • if a booking service provider is aware some of its drivers have other jobs resulting in long shifts, then it has a duty of care to have systems in place that manage that risk. These include the introduction of fatigue policies and procedures that drivers should follow or systems that monitor how long drivers are on the road.

Booking providers are also responsible for:

  • ensuring that vehicles used by drivers meet the applicable safety standards;
  • determining that drivers have adequate CTP insurance; and
  • identifying and keeping a record of reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to risks to health and safety to drivers and passengers, as well as the control measures taken to eliminate or minimise those risks.

Significantly, directors and officers of booking service providers such as Uber must exercise 'due diligence' to ensure that the provider complies with its duty of safety4. This has a range of implications for officers and directors of ridesharing providers, to ensure they have up-to-date knowledge of safety matters, they are aware of the hazards and risks associated with the industry, and the provider has appropriate resources to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety.

There are serious consequences for failing to comply with these safety duties: up to $3,000,000 for a body corporate, and $300,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment for an individual. The NSW legislation will also see the introduction of a 'Point to Point Transport Commissioner' to regulate the ridesharing industry, with broad powers to conduct audits, issue improvement notices, and even cancel, vary or suspend a booking provider's authorisation to operate. This can occur if the Commissioner is of the view that the provider has failed to comply with the NSW legislation (including a breach of its duty of care), or if the Commissioner is of the opinion that the service has been conducted in a manner that causes danger to the public, or for any other reason that Commissioner thinks fit.


Given the very close affinity which so many Australians have for London, the TfL decision has no doubt caused some concern for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who happily use ride-sharing services on a daily basis. All ride-sharing providers will be looking closely at the implications of the NSW legislation. Is there a prospect that Australian regulators could take similar drastic action?

In short, we think it's unlikely that a similar ban will occur in Australia. In NSW, the Commissioner has made clear that her focus is on working with industry to ensure they have the knowledge and capability to implement safety standards, and ensuring compliance through education, advisory, audit and enforcement activities. With the introduction of modern risk-based safety frameworks to meet emerging technologies, it would seem that Uber is here to stay.



2 In October, the Northern Territory Government announced that a regulatory model will be implemented to accommodate ridesharing services later this year.

3 Sections 12 and 13 of the NSW Legislation.

4 Section 14(1) of the NSW Act. Section 14(2) provides that an officer of a duty holder may be convicted or found guilty of an offence under this Act relating to a duty under this section whether or not the duty holder has been convicted or found guilty of an offence under this Act relating to the duty or obligation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Chambers Asia Pacific Awards 2016 Winner – Australia
Client Service Award
Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (WGEA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions