Minicab drivers launch High Court challenge against congestion charge

Minicab congestion charge Sadiq Khan. Image: Samantha King.

Minicab drivers protesting in Southwark over the congestion charge.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A trade union will launch a High Court challenge against the Mayor of London’s decision to introduce the congestion charge for minicab drivers.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain argues that removing minicabs’ exemption from the daily charge discriminates against a 94% black and minority ethnic workforce.

They claim minicab drivers are likely to pay an extra £230 month to do their job, while drivers of London’s traditional black taxis, 88% of whom are white, remain exempt.

At the High Court in London on Thursday, Mr Justice Lewis gave the union permission to challenge Mr Khan's decision, finding that it arguably caused indirect discrimination against BAME drivers, part-time female workers and disabled and elderly passengers.

The judge also gave the go-ahead for a full hearing of the IWGB's claims that the decision will interfere with drivers' human right to private and family life.

But Mr Justice Lewis rejected the union's application to prevent the minicab exemption being lifted on April 8, ahead of a full hearing in July.

Lawyers representing Mr Khan and Transport for London (TfL) earlier warned that TfL could lose as much as £9.5 million by the end of July if he put the changes on hold.

Speaking outside court, IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee told the Press Association: "We are happy the judge has recognised that we have an arguable discrimination claim against Sadiq Khan and that it needs to be given a full hearing."

He added that he was "disappointed" the court did not grant interim relief, but said: "TfL and the Mayor's main defence on that point is all the revenue this would lose them."

Mr Moyer-Lee said that "really shows what this charge is all about, it is about them raising money to fill a black hole in the budget".

Martin Chamberlain QC, for the mayor and TfL, argued that removing the minicab exemption was "a proportionate means of achieving three legitimate aims".

He added it would bring "health benefits, including improved air quality, fewer accidents and healthier means of transport" and environmental benefits.

The IWGB's case will be heard over two days on July 9 and 10.


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