Barristers at Brick Court Chambers were pitted against each other as Transport for London (TfL) secured an injunction against taxi firm Addison Lee to stop its drivers using bus lanes.
The set’s Martin Chamberlain and Sarah Love were instructed by TfL in-house lawyer Jane Hart to go head-to-head with Mare Demetriou QC from the same set. The latter was instructed by Julian Maitland-Walker, a partner at Maitland Walker, on behalf of Addison Lee, its founder and chairman John Griffin and subsidiary Eventech.
In the High Court Mr Justice Eder awarded TfL an injunction that prevents Addison Lee from instructing the drivers of its 3,500 private hire fleet – the largest in Europe – to use bus lanes.
The legal dispute came on the back of a notice sent out to Addison Lee drivers by Griffin and put on its website claiming that bus lane regulations were illegal.
Griffin claimed the regulations allowing black cabs to use bus lanes but not private hire taxis was discriminatory and undermined competition between rival services.
The notice also offered to pay all drivers’ fines if they were caught using the bus lanes.
However, the injunction today ordered Addison Lee to remove the statement from its website and the High Court ruled the indemnity was void and unenforceable.
The court heard that out of 75 recent bus lane contraventions, 60 were Addison Lee vehicles and showed an upwards trend since the notice was issued by Griffin on 14 April.
The proceedings were part of a wider dispute on the use of bus lanes in London and Eder J ordered an expedited hearing for the judicial review, which started last year and has yet to be determined.
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.
“Bus lanes enable buses to move around the capital efficiently carrying more than 6m 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.