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Taxi Newsroom
  • 12/05/2017

    Uber is Transport Company, Says European Court Advocate

    Uber is Transport Company, Says European Court Advocate

    Uber is Transport Company, Says European Court Advocate

    Following issues in Denmark and Italy, Uber now face more setbacks in Europe, with an Advocate General of the European Court of Justice taking issue with Uber's status as a digital service, arguing that they should be regarded and regulated as a transport company instead.

    Uber arrive at the European Court of Justice after a case made against them by Barcelona's leading licensed taxi association, Elite Taxi, on account of Uber's bypassing of local licensing requirements, which they were able to do due to their qualification as a digital service.

    Under current EU law, technology companies are able to set up businesses across all of the EU's twenty eight member states with relative ease. Transport companies, however, face much tighter regulation and control.

    Maciej Szpunar, an Advocate General at Europe’s highest court, argued that as Uber's services are 'undoubtedly transport (namely the service not provided by electronic means)' the company 'cannot be regarded as a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers', recommending the court to re-evaluate Uber's financial status.

    While the Advocate General’s opinion is non-binding, the court’s judges follow it in most cases. This means Uber, which allows passengers to summon a ride through a smartphone app, may soon be subject to the same local laws that regulate taxi services in European countries.

    Should the court share Spuznar's stance, Uber may need to make serious amendments to the way it operates throughout Europe, and potentially in the UK. Simultaneously, a precedent could be set for future legal action to be taken against many of the other leading firms of 'the gig economy', such as Airbnb and Deliveroo.

    'Of course there are implications for other sharing economy platforms, whether that’s takeaway on bicycles, house cleaning or assembling Ikea furniture,' said Debbie Wosskow, founding chair of Sharing Economy UK. 'Europe is an incredibly important market for all companies in this area, so the ruling could lead to a major challenge for them.'

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