Uber Loses at EU Court Again as Challenge to French Law Fails

  • European Union
  • 04/10/2018
  • Bloomberg Law

Uber Technologies Inc. suffered another setback at the European Union’s top court after EU judges rejected a challenge to a French law that led to criminal fines against the company’s top managers in the country.

“EU nations may prohibit and punish the illegal exercise of a transport service such as UberPop without having to notify” the European Commission in advance of the draft legislation, the EU Court of Justice said in a binding ruling on Tuesday. Uber challenged the legality of the French law, saying the nation should have notified the EU in advance.

While Uber has shut down the French UberPop service at the center of Tuesday’s ruling, the case is another indication of the legal and regulatory headwinds the company faces throughout Europe. Tuesday’s judgment reaffirms a previous decision by the top EU court in December, which said Uber should be treated like a transport company and not as purely a digital service provider.

“As our new CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialog with cities across Europe,” Uber said in a statement.

A French court referred Tuesday’s case to the EU tribunal in 2016 for guidance on the legality of changes made to a French law two years earlier, which Uber said is targeting apps such as UberPop. The service let unlicensed drivers use their own car to pick up riders for low fees. The court asked whether the nation’s failure to flag the rule changes to the EU, a technical requirement for many laws, made it invalid.

Uber and two executives in 2016 were fined a total of 850,000 euros ($1 million) by a French criminal court over claims that UberPop broke the law before the company halted the ride-sharing service. Half the fine was suspended.

While EU countries control their own transport regulations, they must tell the European Commission about changes to legislation covering digital services. Uber said the rules were a new “technical regulation” that relates to a digital service and as such, the EU should have been notified.

The case is: C-320/16, Uber France.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net
Nate Lanxon