Uber gears up for landmark legal battle with EU's top court to evade strict laws
Uber is set to battle it out with a top EU court in a landmark case, which will determine whether the app-based firm could be exempt from strict laws that regular firms are obliged to follow. Uber will seek to persuade the EU court on 6 December, that it is a digital service and not a regular transport firm, in its effort to evade strict laws.
The US-based taxi app firm has faced bitter opposition from local competition and authorities since launching in Europe five years ago. Local taxi companies and regulators fear Uber’s current position of not being bound by local safety and licensing rules creates unfair competition.
In the event of a ruling that classifies Uber as a transport firm, the company could be liable to comply with stricter regulations on licensing, insurance and safety, Reuters reported. Some claim that stringent regulations protect employees and block the entry of digital start-ups seeking to gain a foothold in the EU, without offering workers formalised or organised work and curb basic rights.
Uber began experiencing problems in the EU after Barcelona’s main taxi operator filed a lawsuit against the firm, alleging that it was running an illegal service, in 2014. The case concerned the firm’s UberPOP service, which the company halted after the lawsuit.
The case has garnered global interest, with the Netherlands, where Uber has its European headquarters, along with Finland, Poland, Greece and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) having submitted a written observation, in support of Uber. However, Spain, France and Ireland, in their submissions, have classified Uber as a transport service.
The case will be presided over by a grand chamber of 15 judges, with over 200 participants signed up for the hearing.