TfL's injunction against London minicab firm Addison Lee has succeeded, to the relief of the capital's cyclists (and cabbies)

Transport for London blocks Addison Lee’s entry into bus lanes

Transport for London’s injunction stopping Addison Lee execs from encouraging its minicab drivers straying in London’s bus lanes has succeeded. However, Addison Lee issued a press release saying it had won, a stance described as "amazing" by TfL.

In a High Court case heard on Monday, the details of which were released today, Mr Justice Eder said it was “necessary and just and convenient” to grant TfL a temporary injunction stopping Addison Lee from “encouraging” its minicab drivers to enter London’s bus lanes. It’s temporary because there’s a Addison Lee requested judicial review on the way. 

Monday’s ruling prevents Griffin’s company from “causing, encouraging or assisting” its minicab drivers from using London’s bus lanes. Minocab entry into London’s bus lanes is a criminal offence.

Extra vehicles in London’s bus lanes would harm cycle safety, worry campaigners. Cyclists have staged a Facebook-organised ‘die in’ at the Addison Lee HQ in London and there’s an ongoing campaign to roast the Addison Lee smartphone app, which earns the company £23m a year.

Justice Eder said: “It seems to me that unless an injunction is granted, there is a substantial risk of significant problems [with 60,000 minicab drivers entering bus lanes].”

Addison Lee does have a small amount of wriggle room because TfL had to jettison that part of its case which sought to force Addison Lee CEO John Griffin to withdraw his original letter sent to its drivers telling them they could enter bus lanes, and that he’d pay their fines. In theory, Addison Lee drivers can now choose whether to break the law or not and Griffin’s letter is allowed to stand.

The High Court labelled Addison Lee ‘indemnity’ as void and unenforceable.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said:

“Today’s judgment prevents Addison Lee from instructing or encouraging its drivers to drive in bus lanes in London. The court felt compelled to grant an injunction because of the substantial risk of Addison Lee taking action that could result in the law being broken. We maintain that Addison Lee’s instruction to its drivers was irresponsible and at odds with its position as a private hire operator.

“Bus lanes enable buses to move around the capital efficiently carrying more than six million passengers a day. We maintain that allowing tens of thousands of Private Hire Vehicles to drive in bus lanes would impact on the reliability of our bus services, and risks inconveniencing our customers.”

The interim injunction will remain in place until judicial review proceedings, on the issues of private hire in bus lanes, conclude.

Addison Lee’s press release on the judgement is combatitive. It’s headlined "TfL fails to succeed in its bid to muzzle Addison Lee over bus lanes."

TfL called the release "amazing".

The rest of the release follows:

Transport for London has been forced to abandon its application for a mandatory injunction requiring Addison Lee and its chairman John Griffin to withdraw their letter to drivers stating that they are entitled to drive in London bus lanes and to send out a further letter instructing them not to do so.

Mr Justice Eder, who handed down judgment today following a High Court hearing on Monday 23 April 2002, has instead confirmed that it is for drivers to choose whether or not they drive in bus lanes pending the resolution of Addison Lee’s legal challenge to the validity of the bus lane legislation.

The judge noted Addison Lee’s argument that the bus lane legislation as it stands constitutes “flagrant discrimination in favour of black cabs” and against private hire vehicles and that this “gave black cabs a significant unfair competitive advantage causing [private hire vehicle] drivers significant loss”. The Judge recognised the urgency of the problem by ordering that Addison Lee’s claim should be expedited so that it is determined by the High Court before the Olympic Games.

In the meantime, the Court has confirmed that it would be entirely lawful for Addison Lee to decide, after any fine has been imposed on a driver for driving in a bus lane, to reimburse that driver in respect of the fine should it wish to do so.

John Griffin, chairman of Addison Lee said: “This is a great start to our campaign to challenge the unfair bus lane legislation. We hope to fully overturn the legislation to offer faster journey times to our customers and to offer a competitive transport service during the Olympic Games.”

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