Alan McCormack | Senior Associate

Uber-EU Decision

In a landmark judgment, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that Uber provides “a service in the field of transport”, rather than a simple “information society service” (or app as the company contended).

The ruling relates to a case originally raised by a Spanish taxi association, who argued that the activities of Uber Systems Spain amounted to misleading practices and acts of unfair competition because the drivers of the vehicles concerned did not need to comply with the same regulations as local taxi services in the area. Therefore, the ECJ considered whether or not Uber requires prior administrative authorisation.

The ECJ found that the purpose of the service was “to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys” and so it “must be regarded as forming an integral part of an overall service whose main component is a transport service”, meaning the company can be regulated as such at a national level.

The Court found that the directive on electronic commerce does not apply and the service in question is covered not by the freedom to provide services in general but by the common transport policy.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the verdict meant Uber must “play by the same rules as everybody else” and their drivers should have “at the very least the minimum wage and holiday pay.” She continued to state that, “advances in technology should be used to make work better, not to return to the type of working practices we thought we’d seen the back of decades ago.”

GMB general secretary Tim Roache welcomed this decision which confirms that Uber is a transport company and now wants to see “sensible regulation being applied to Uber and all drivers to ensure worker and public safety, and a level playing field for all our driver members.”

An Uber spokesman said that the ruling will not change things in most EU countries where they already operate under transportation law.

We will be keeping a close eye on the implications of this decision for both Uber, their workers and other companies within the gig economy who may now also be subject to increased regulation.

If you are an employer or an employee, and you believe you are affected by issues raised from this decision or should you require any further information, please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.

Alan McCormack

Alan McCormack

Employment Law Team

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