European court says some Uber activities may be illegal

Company plays down issue but case is another setback following recent scandals

Uber has argued it is a mere digital intermediary service and should not be treated as a transport service

Uber has argued it is a mere digital intermediary service and should not be treated as a transport service

 

Member states may criminally punish illegal transport activities such as UberPOP without seeking the EU’s opinion on the draft law, an adviser to the top European Union court said on Tuesday.

The opinion in the case before the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) over a dispute with French taxi drivers is another setback for US ride-hailing app Uber, which has argued that it is a mere digital intermediary service and should not be treated as a transport service.

“Member states may prohibit and punish, as a matter of criminal law, the illegal exercise of transport activities in the context of the UberPop service, without notifying the commission of the draft law in advance,” the advocate general said in statement by the Court.

The opinion is not binding on the judges, who are expected to rule later this year, but the court generally follows the advocates generals’ advice.

Uber played down the issue, saying that the case concerned only a ride-hailing app service in France which it no longer provides. “We have seen today’s statement and await the final ruling later this year,” an Uber spokeswoman said in an email.

“This case relates to a French law from 2014 and affects peer-to-peer services which we stopped in 2015. Uber today works only with professional licensed drivers in France.”

An advocate general for the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said on Tuesday in a non-binding opinion that illegal transport activities like UberPOP may be criminal.

-Reuters