France’s Constitutional Council has upheld a ban on UberPOP, the taxi service marketed in France by Uber, according to Le Monde.
The decision leaves in place existing French law which bans non-licensed companies from providing taxi services. Offenders are liable to criminal prosecution, and two Uber executives in France have been charged. They face up to two years in prison or a €300,000 fine.
A spokesperson for Uber told Business Insider that the case now proceeds back to the Paris Court of Appeal which had asked for a ruling on the constitutionality of the law, and will now make a further ruling.
It also underlines the way Uber’s business model remains vulnerable to regulation. Uber’s strategy so far has been to launch services in various countries and cities, and to then hope that the legal aspect can be fixed later. Many cities and countries have strict laws giving near-monopolies to licensed taxi companies over the right to drive paying passengers from A to B. The company has also suffered legal setbacks in California, where the company has lost employment law rulings from drivers asking to be classified as full-fledged employees and not freelancers.
Reuters reports from France (as translated by Google):
Prosecuted for the implementation of this controversial application, they will be judged in corrections in Paris for “misleading commercial practice”, “complicity of illegal exercise of the taxi operator activity” and “illegal organisation of a system commissioning client relationship with persons engaged in taxi activity, “among others.
Uber suspended UberPOP in France in July after violent protests by local taxi drivers. On June 29, Thibaud Simphal, the manager of Uber France, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, the general manager for Western Europe, were detained by French authorities. Uber had 1.2 million users in the country, the company said. UberPOP was the service which let amateur drivers pick up passengers for payment. Uber continues to offer pickups via professional drivers in France.
In a statement, the company told Business Insider, “While this is a disappointing judgement for Uber, Heetch and other French ride-sharing companies, it will not impact the service we offer in France today which is provided entirely by professional drivers. We will continue to work with the French government on new, common sense regulations that offer riders more affordable, reliable options and drivers new job opportunities.”
Here is a report in English from AFP.
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