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Uber takes a ride to court to challenge English language test for drivers

The ride-hailing company is taking legal action against UK regulators over plans to test drivers' English.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Uber is clashing with London's transit authority again.

Carl Court/Getty Images

Uber is suing London's transport authority over plans to test whether drivers' English is good enough.

The ride-hailing company is unhappy with new plans by Transport for London (TFL) that will require private hire drivers from non-English-speaking countries to prove they have passed a written exam testing their English language skills.

The exam costs £200 ($260), which Uber says could force thousands of drivers out of work. The San Francisco-based company is also unhappy about new rules for driver insurance and about TFL's decision that Uber to show regulators new features in the app before launching them to the public.

"This legal action is very much a last resort," Uber's general manager for London, Tom Elvidge, said in a statement Wednesday. "We're particularly disappointed that, after a lengthy consultation process with Transport for London, the goalposts have moved at the last minute."

In an email to customers, Uber suggested that the level of English required to pass the exam was higher than that required to apply for British citizenship.

Uber has clashed with regulators in cities around the world. Recently, the company won a dispute with TFL over the legal definition of a fare meter. Meanwhile, the traditional taxi industry is also unhappy with TFL over regulation of Uber, prompting a number of demonstrations in which black cabs gridlocked parts of London.