Uber has had its fair share of legal troubles in Europe, and the issues seem not to have halted thanks to regulators in the European Union (EU) who want the taxi-hailing firm to be referred to as a transportation service rather than a link that connects passengers to cabs.
On May 11, 2017, an advisor to the EU told the European Court of Justice that Uber is more transportation service rather than an intermediary that connects passengers to drivers. For this reason, Uber has to obtain relevant licenses like any other transportation service.
While the argument acknowledges the innovative front of the taxi-hailing app, it fails to be an ‘information service society’ because of two reasons: 1) a section of the service that has nothing to do with electronic channels has to be ‘economically independent of Uber – which is not the case and 2) Uber has to provide all provisions associated with a service – which it does not. For instance, an online merchant who sells goods through an Internet-based platform would ship products to clients, meaning the merchant renders all services associated with his/her trade. For this case, EU argues that Uber employ the drivers, which the firm disagrees because the drivers are basically independent’ and do not work for the company.
As stated, the cab-hailing giant meets none of the mentioned conditions. This is because Uber drivers do not pursue a self-determining activity that is not connected to the platform. In other words, any other activities that drivers are involved in, exist because of the platform. At the same time, it has been pointed out that Uber manages and controls crucial economic aspects of the service – such as setting the prices and guiding drivers on where to go to pick up passengers.
No ruling has been given in regard to this legal issue as the opinion by the EU is non-binding (has no legal power), which is why judges will keenly look into it and deliver a ruling before the year comes to an end.
A ruling in favour of the EU would require Uber to obtain a transportation license.
In that regard, we have a discussion on our forums on whether Uber is a private form of transport or public. What do you think?