CJEU: Uber indeed a transport company
Uber’s activities should be regarded as transport activities and not as the mere mediation of services, according to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the opinion of the Advocate General. Uber should thus be considered a company providing regular taxi services.
In its decision of 20 December 2017, the CJEU held that the services involving the establishment of communication between customers and non-professional drivers provided by Uber fall within the category of transport services and as such should be excluded from the general application of free movement of services as well as from the application of the Directive on Services in the Internal Market and the Directive on Electronic Commerce. This means that member states may regulate the conditions for providing these services themselves.
The Czech Minister of Transport has already commented on this decision, voicing the opinion that the Czech courts should reassess their existing decisions regarding Uber in the light of the CJEU’s new ruling. In addition to this, the minister also admitted that some requirements on taxi drivers, such as taximeters or topographical testing, should be made less strict via a draft amendment to law. The new government also wants to introduce the duty of companies operating in the sharing economy to send information about their operations to the tax authorities.
The CJEU’s ruling explicitly deals with non-professional drivers using their own cars. Another question that is currently globally discussed is whether Uber drivers are indeed self-employed persons. According to the London Appeal Tribunal, for example, Uber drivers have employment rights. A similar question is currently being discussed in the USA.
Other questions that may arise in connection with this are, for example, the approach of insurance companies to damage caused by drivers holding such an uncertain position. We will have to wait and see what implications this ruling will have in practice.