European Union court decision on Uber 'a social victory': plaintiffs

European Union court decision on Uber 'a social victory': plaintiffs

Even so, the tech giant has long maintained that they're not, in fact, a transportation company.

The court case originates from legal action filed by Elite Taxi, a Barcelona-based association of independent taxi drivers, which is seeking penalties against Uber for operating its low-priced Uberpop service without the necessary taxi licenses and authorisation from the city.

The ruling says that as a transport service, Uber will be excluded from the scope of the freedom to provide services in general as well as "on services in the internal market and the directive on electronic commerce".

The repeated protests have led several state transport departments (Karnataka and Maharashtra being the first few ones) to start drafting and modifying contract carriage permits (the laws under which traditional taxis operate in India).

Almost a third of Uber's 50,000 United Kingdom drivers are logged into the app for more than 40 hours a week, and around 8 percent are logged in for more than 60 hours, the company said in a letter to government officials.

An Uber spokesperson said: "This ruling will not change things in most European Union countries where we already operate under transportation law".

The UK proceedings began at the end of October 2015 when four drivers submitted claims against the ride-hailing app, supported by the GMB union.

"The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with non-professional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport", the European Court of Justice said.

Traditional taxi firms, who have fallen into difficulties since the rapid expansion of Uber and Grab in Viet Nam in recent years, called for equality in management. Uber will "continue the dialogue with cities across Europe" to allow access to its services.




Elite has argued Uber was competing unfairly by building a new model for transportation without the costs normally associated with it.

Prof Andre Spicer, from the Cass Business School, welcomed the ruling.

Courts in Denmark, Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy all handed down bans on all of Uber's services.

On a wider basis, it could have implications for other gig economy businesses that try to portray themselves as little more than an app on a phone, connecting providers with customers; it appears the courts, so far, are taking a different view.

However, an association representing online companies warned that the ruling goes against EU efforts to encourage innovation and help European entrepreneurs compete with USA and Asian rivals.

Uber has also experienced a sexual harassment scandal.

"It's a precedent and a door-opener for online innovators to be to be subjected to national or sectoral rules in the future", said Jakob Kucharczyk of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

The ruling comes on the same day as Uber returns to court to outline an appeal against its London licence. More than 40 states have enacted statewide ride-hailing regulations.

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