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Uber France hit by new EU Court blow

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Uber France hit by new EU Court blow

Taxi - Image WT-shared - Riggwelter

(LUXEMBOURG) - EU Member States can prohibit illegal exercise of transport activities in the context of the UberPop service without alerting the Commission in advance of draft criminal legislation, the EU Court ruled Tuesday.

French firm Uber France provides the UberPop service through a smartphone app, through which it puts non-professional drivers using their own vehicle in contact with persons wanting to make urban journeys.

Uber France fixes the rates, collects the fare for each journey from the customer (before paying part of it to the non-professional driver of the vehicle) and prepares the invoices.

Criminal law proceedings were brought against Uber France for having organised, by means of the UberPop service, a system for putting customers in touch with non-professional drivers who transport passengers for remuneration using vehicles with fewer than ten seats.

Uber France maintained that French legislation on which the criminal proceedings against it were based constitutes a technical regulation which concerns an information society service within the meaning of the directive on technical standards and regulations (Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations).

That directive requires EU Member States to notify the Commission of any draft legislation or rules laying down technical regulations relating to products and information society services, failing which that legislation or those rules will be subsequently unenforceable against individuals.

In the present case, the French authorities had not notified the criminal legislation in question to the Commission prior to its promulgation. Uber France infers from this that it cannot therefore be prosecuted on the charges set out above.

The French tribunal had asked the Court of Justice whether the French authorities were required to notify the Commission of the draft legislation in advance.

By its judgment, the Court ruled that Member States may prohibit and punish the illegal exercise of a transport activity such as UberPop without having to notify the Commission in advance of the draft legislation laying down criminal penalties for the exercise of such an activity.

The Court pointed out, first of all, that it ruled on 20 December 2017 in the Uber Spain case that the UberPop service offered in Spain came within the field of transport and did not constitute an information society service within the meaning of the directive. In the Court's view, the UberPop service offered in France is essentially identical to the service provided in Spain, that being a matter for the tribunal de grande instance de Lille to verify.

As the UberPop service does not therefore come within the scope of the directive, the Court accordingly concludes that the obligation to notify the Commission in advance, provided for in that directive, cannot apply. It follows that the French authorities were not required to notify the Commission in advance of the draft criminal legislation in question.

Judgment in Case C-320/16 Uber France SAS


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