European Court rules Uber is a cab firm, not a digital service

Don't forget to tip your driver

In a statement released by Uber when the non-binding decision was released in May, an Uber spokesperson said: "It will, however, undermine the much-needed reform of outdated laws which prevent millions of Europeans from accessing a reliable ride at the tap of a button".

Uber has gained a strong foothold and customer base in most European countries, adapting its multiple services time and again to bend to local rules when faced with legal challenges. However, if it had been classed as an "information society service", the company would have been protected by European Union freedoms on providing online services.

The case started in Barcelona where the local authority told Uber it had to be subject to its local taxi regulations.

"The electronic platform Uber provides, by means of a smartphone application, a paid service consisting of connecting non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys", the ECJ's ruling read.

"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 e-mailed to Fortune.

The news of the ruling against the controversial cab firm comes just a few months after it launched an appeal against Transport for London's (TfL) decision not to renew its private hire licence.


Uber can not directly appeal the ruling, although it may pursue parallel legal challenges in other courts, Reuters reported. In France, for example, Uber's low-priced service involving independent, unregulated drivers is banned, but Uber operates a popular ride service involving licensed drivers that competes with traditional taxis.

In a separate United Kingdom case, an employment tribunal ruled earlier this year that Uber drivers should be treated as workers and not contractors.

It's also unclear whether these changes will affect the service for the consumer.

Their argument is that they are facilitators - and shouldn't face the cumbersome and costly regulations that conventional businesses face for offering these services themselves. Industry members said the firm must first abide by transport laws if it wanted to be back on the city's roads legally.

For years Uber has been trying to convince the world it is a tech company, not a transportation company.

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