Uber dealt a fresh blow in Euro­pean le­gal case

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - AMIE TSANG LON­DON —

Uber suf­fered a blow to its ex­pan­sion plans in Europe on Tues­day af­ter a se­nior ad­viser to the re­gion’s high­est court said that the ride-hail­ing ser­vice should have to abide by tough rules gov­ern­ing taxi ser­vices.

The rec­om­men­da­tion, a non­bind­ing opin­ion by an advocate gen­eral for the Court of Jus­tice of the Euro­pean Union, adds to an ar­ray of chal­lenges that Uber is fac­ing world­wide. This year alone, the com­pany has grap­pled with a sex­ual ha­rass­ment scan­dal and the res­ig­na­tion last month of its chief ex­ec­u­tive, Travis Kalan­ick.

The case be­fore the court hinged on whether Uber should be treated as a taxi ser­vice in France, and there­fore be sub­ject to rig­or­ous safety and em­ploy­ment rules, or as a dig­i­tal plat­form that merely con­nected in­de­pen­dent drivers with pas­sen­gers.

French au­thor­i­ties brought crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings last year against the ride-hail­ing ser­vice for in­fring­ing a law that re­quired any ve­hi­cle car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers for a fee to be li­censed as a taxi ser­vice and to have ap­pro­pri­ate in­sur­ance.

Uber had ar­gued the law was a “tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tion” over dig­i­tal ser­vices. That be­ing the case, the com­pany said, French au­thor­i­ties were re­quired to no­tify the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the ex­ec­u­tive arm of the Euro­pean Union, be­fore adopt­ing the leg­is­la­tion. Be­cause France did not do so, Uber con­tended, the law could not be en­forced.

The se­nior ad­viser, Ma­ciej Szpunar, an advocate gen­eral of the court, rec­om­mended Tues­day that Uber was ef­fec­tively a taxi ser­vice. He wrote that France could ban cer­tain types of trans­porta­tion ser­vices it deemed il­le­gal with­out hav­ing to no­tify the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

“We have seen to­day’s state­ment and await the fi­nal rul­ing later this year,” an Uber spokesper­son said.

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