A German court has overturned a temporary country-wide ban against taxi-app Uber, stating that the ‘urgent’ injunction submitted by Taxi Deutschland had been requested too late.
The court did not, however, decide to legalise Uber’s business model having ruled earlier this month that Uber should be banned in Germany because it operated in breach of Germany’s Passenger Transport Act, having failed to obtain necessary permits for its drivers. Uber’s UberPop online app allows users to book a car ride from a network of individual drivers not affiliated with official taxi companies.
After the regional court in Frankfurt lifted its previous ban, Taxi Deutschland said it would appeal against the judgement.
“This ruling does not mean that the assignment of taxi-like journeys to private drivers without approval is legal,” Taxi Deutschland said. “On the contrary the regional court said clearly in its first decision that this practice is unlawful. Today’s ruling did not withdraw this legal appraisal. The taxi industry accepts competitors who comply with the law. Uber doesn’t do that. Therefore we today announce that we will be appealing without delay.”
Uber is planning to double the size of its business before the end of 2014 and expand into more German cities. Uber already operates in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich.
“This is an industry that doesn’t want to see competition,” said Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s regional general manager for northern Europe. “Incumbents will try to find any legal way to stop companies like Uber from competing.”
The outcome of the legal battle in Germany may translate to its reception in the UK, where the ban had given fresh hope to angry British cabbies who brought central London to a standstill earlier this year as thousands of drivers staged a protest. Both private cabbies and black cab drivers argue that Uber escapes regulatory. The app works out the cost of journeys – something cab drivers claim is the same as using a taxi meter, which only black cabs are legally entitled to use.
So far Uber has refused to back down, saying that progress cannot be stopped. Its mobile payments technology allows users to order taxis and get to where they want to go without scrambling for spare change. Instead, Uber takes the payment from the apps mobile wallet, where the user’s credit card data is securely stored.
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