Uber taxi app banned throughout Germany after Frankfurt ruling
2 September 2014 9:36am
In what may be the severest crackdown on taxi app service Uber seen so far, Germany has banned the San Francisco-based company from operating throughout the country after a temporary injunction was issued by the Frankfurt regional court.
Uber will be subjected fines of up to €250,000 (£198,000) if it defies the ban. The injunction was imposed after the German taxi lobby challenged the company for non-compliance with existing transport regulations.
Chairman of Taxi Deutschland said in a statement:
The Passenger Transport Act regulates the protection of drivers and consumers. That can't easily be overturned no matter how neoliberal the company.
Uber operates with billions in cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself in a Startup-Look and sells itself as a New Economy saviour.
Because the court's ruling is a temporary injunction, Uber will have the opportunity to fight the ban in a follow-up hearing.
An Uber spokesman responded today's developments: "Germany is one of the fastest growing markets for Uber in Europe. We will continue to operate in Germany and will appeal the recent lawsuit filed by Taxi Deutschland in Frankfurt. We believe innovation and competition is good for everyone, riders and drivers, everyone wins. You cannot put the brakes on progress. Uber will continue its operations and will offer Uberpop ridesharing services via its app throughout Germany."
Compared to the Frankfurt court, Transport for London (TfL) appears to be a model of laissez-faire. TfL has not taken any substantive action against Uber and back in July said as far as it was concerned the company was acting within the law.
The London Taxi Drivers Association had argued Uber was in breach of regulations governing taximeters, which can only be used by black cabs.
Tfl saw things very differently and issued a statement on 3 July saying: "In relation to the way Uber operates in London, TfL is satisfied that based upon our understanding of the relationship between the passenger and Uber London, and between Uber London and Uber UV, registered in Holland, that it is operating under the terms of the 1998 PHV(L) Act".
Uber has faced hostility from regulators and the established taxi industry across Europe. In France, this took the form of the notorious "15-minute" law where Uber drivers were required to wait 15 minutes after customers place a booking to pick them up. The law was later ruled unconstitutional.
In April, a Belgium court ruling found Uber's operations illegal, and threatened heavy fines should the service continue to operate. With this level of opposition, it is little wonder that Uber felt it necessary bring in political heavyweight and former Obama strategist David Plouffe to smooth Uber's relationship with regulators and politicians.
However, Europe's political class are by no means united in their hostility to the US company The EU commissioner for the digital agenda and well-known Uber fan, Neelie Kroes, told Twitter her opinion of the Frankfurt court's ruling:
In other news
Charter Communications has finalised its $55bn (£36bn) takeover of Time Warner Cable. [Read more]
A smart approach to risk-taking, a curious mind which is also capable of intense focus, as well as dogged determination [Read more]
Maintaining the heavy duty escalators and lifts which support London's tube network is a mammoth task - and this [Read more]
This year 17 women aged under 45 made it onto Forbes' annual list of the World's 100 most powerful women. [Read more]
An anti-austerity protest has been organised to coincide with the Queen's Speech tomorrow, with campaigners targeting [Read more]
Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has said it could impose a small levy on bank ATM withdrawals to encourage [Read more]
Central London roads were gridlocked this afternoon as the black cab protest caused chaos around Parliament Square, [Read more]
Chief executives at media and tech giants are coining it in, accounting for eight out of the top 10 best-paid [Read more]
Friends, flatmates and family of TfL staff are currently able to use London's public transport for free, but the [Read more]
The euro tumbled to a one-month low against the dollar this morning with investors unable to shake-off concerns [Read more]
We're seeing a renaissance; it’s incredibly exciting. People are better educated and the market is growing and [Read more]
Over the course of June, Greece must make four payments totalling €1.6bn (£1.1bn) to the IMF, starting with [Read more]
BlackBerry has announced that it will make job cuts as it consolidates.
If we wanted to get rid of every MP who had ever told a porkie, "we'd clear out the House of Commons very fast", [Read more]