London minicab firm Addison Lee loses bus lane battle but says it plans to appeal

High Court judge says there is an "obvious and compelling" case for TfL keeping minicabs out of bus lanes

by Simon_MacMichael   July 12, 2012  

Addison Lee logo - white on black

London minicab firm Addison Lee plans to appeal against a high court judge’s decision yesterday not to permit its drivers to use their vehicle’s in London’s bus lanes. The company itself had sought the judicial review of Transport for London (TfL) rules which permit licensed taxis, also known as black cabs, from using the lanes but prevent minicabs from doing so, claiming that it is discriminatory and in breach of European Union competition law.

Mr Justice Burton yesterday described TfL’s restrictions on which vehicles are allowed to use bus lanes as “obvious and compelling," reports The Guardian, saying: "There is to my mind a clear distinction between the need of black cabs (and their passengers and the public) for them to be in the bus lanes, by way of visibility and availability of, and access to, black cabs for those hailing a cruising taxi."

"I consider it makes entire good sense for black cabs to be travelling in bus lanes. Minicabs just do not have the need to use the bus lane, and black cabs do," he added.

"We are extremely disappointed with today's judgment," commented Mr Griffin. "The current bus lane legislation is anti-competitive and unfairly discriminates against millions of Londoners who use private hire vehicles every day.

“There is no reason for black taxis to have a monopoly on bus lanes – we should either all be in or all be out. We still believe that the current legislation is a breach of the EU and UK law. You can't discriminate between two types of taxis and we will continue to fight this injustice."

The firm has said that it now plans to appeal the judgment to the Court of Appeal as well as seeking a ruling, to the extent that European Union law applies, from the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

TfL said that it was "pleased that the court has recognised the important distinction between taxis and minicabs." Its managing director of surface transport, Leon Daniels, added: "Londoners will doubtless also be pleased to know that the court has ordered Addison Lee to meet TfL's costs in defending this claim."

The firm’s founder and chairman, John Griffin, was condemned by cycle safety campaigners and London politicians in April earlier this year after he wrote to its 4,000 drivers telling them to use the bus lanes pending the outcome of the judicial review, saying that the company would indemnify them against any fines and other costs they incurred. TfL subsequently secured an injunction that ordered the firm to withdraw that instruction as well as the offer to reimburse drivers for any fines.

The capital’s bus lanes provide those on bikes with a haven of sorts from the city’s traffic, and Mr Griffin further angered cyclists when details of a column he had penned for the company magazine emerged in which he spoke about cyclists killed on London’s roads, concluding by saying, “It is time for us to say to cyclists, ‘You want to join our gang, get trained and pay up’.”

The episode led to calls for a boycott of Addison Lee, as well as a ‘die-in’ being staged in protest outside the company’s offices in North London. The company, whose drivers have long been singled out by many London cyclists as being particularly inconsiderate of those on two wheels, are also now set to receive cycle awareness training.

Previously, Mr Griffin, who has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party via his company, had fought without success for more than a decade with the former Labour Government to have the M4 bus lane scrapped; former Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond ordered it to be removed shortly after the Coalition Government came to power in June 2010.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Tuesday that the company has appointed corporate communications firm Ogilvy as its PR advisers. In a week when the company has not only lost that judicial review over bus lanes but has also been ordered by City of Westminster Council to remove thousands of cigarette bins throughout the borough that bear its logo, it sounds like they already have their work cut out.

11 user comments

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It seems to have escaped the charming Mr Griffin's attention that black cab drivers in London have to carry out intensive training to pass a difficult test that then allows them to wear the badge. Addison Lee drivers on the other hand...


posted by OldRidgeback [2450 posts]
12th July 2012 - 8:51


So, am I right in thinking, he is now debating the law on trading as a Private Hire versus Black Cab as being anti-competitive?

Thats about the only way he can access bus lanes like a black cab according to the simple judgement passed above.

Black Cabs dont get access to bus lanes to allow them to get to their destination faster, they use them to pick up fares after being hailed form the roadside, something a Private hire firm cant do by the law that allows them to practise their occupation.

Wonder who will pick up on this and ask that Black Cabs dont undertake traffic at lights or elsewhere, using bus lanes supposedly only required/permitted for pickup/setdown by them?

Existing buslane cameras could pick this up easy.

AddLee would be happier then also, as would cyclists.

posted by Farky [186 posts]
12th July 2012 - 9:26


By the way - if anyone is still looking for an Add Lee alternative... recommend using the Hailo app

posted by londoncyclist [13 posts]
12th July 2012 - 9:50


This European Human Rights Legislation is starting to get on my t#ts.

Anyone who is not happy about something appeals under these guide lines regardless of how petty and insignificant it is Angry

Taxi's should not use bus lanes full stop !

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3034 posts]
12th July 2012 - 10:11


It's nothing to do with human rights legislation, Stumps, it's about EU competition law. The ECHR is actually a Council of Europe treaty, not an EU one.

posted by lc1981 [55 posts]
12th July 2012 - 10:18


Thanks lc1981 for clarifying that - saved me having to do it Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8989 posts]
12th July 2012 - 11:06


See what i mean ? its got me so annoyed i cant even type the right answer in Rolling On The Floor

Cheers mate, i'm sure you knew what i was on about though Big Grin

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3034 posts]
12th July 2012 - 11:55


I read a lot about the ECHR being a load of bol**ks. This legislation has existed since the 1950's and was designed to prevent atrocities like the holocaust. If this legislation existed before the second world war it is likely that Hitler would never have achieved (if thats the right word) what he did and the war may never have happened. The convention was based on English law was championed by Winston Churchill and has been part of British law (it is not a guideline) since the 1950's! The convention is OK; except that it gives people rights without responsibilities and that few have heard of or understand it!

posted by SideBurn [902 posts]
12th July 2012 - 12:37


Perhaps; perhaps not. It's nothing to do with this story though!

posted by lc1981 [55 posts]
12th July 2012 - 18:38


stumps wrote:
This European Human Rights Legislation is starting to get on my t#ts.

Anyone who is not happy about something appeals under these guide lines regardless of how petty and insignificant it is Angry

Taxi's should not use bus lanes full stop !

[[[[[[ Quite right, Stumpo. Presumably Crippen (sorry, Griffin) would be happy to see ALL motor traffic using bus lanes, on the basis that the law unfairly favours buses and bikes. he related to that Griffin geezer of the BNP? I merely ask the question...


posted by PhilRuss [319 posts]
14th July 2012 - 0:36


What! AdLee still trading I thought everybody was going to cancel their contracts and take it's trade elsewhere putting them out of business


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [646 posts]
16th July 2012 - 8:19