Uber’s storm in Europe
The ride-hailing app’s offices in Amsterdam were raided by the Dutch authorities, two of its top executives appeared in court in Paris on Tuesday and proposals that Uber is unhappy about were published on Wednesday by London’s transport rule-setting body.
Here’s a roundup of the storm the company – now worth $50 billion – is facing.
Dutch office raids
Dutch police raided Uber’s office in Amsterdam on Tuesday as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, the public prosecutor said.
Uber has been accused of violating the country’s taxi laws with its UberPOP service. The service allows untrained drivers and those without a taxi license to offer trips at a cheaper rate. It is different from Uber’s regular service and was banned in the Netherlands in December.
The law banning UberPOP is under review and a new piece of legislation expected by the end of 2016.
In the meantime, Uber has decided to launch legal proceedings against the Dutch taxi law.
“Naturally we dispute the allegations, as the legal status of uberPOP continues to be debated in court and the underlying law is under legislative review,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.
French court case
Uber has a short and troubled history in France. Two senior Uber executives were on trial on Wednesday in Paris on charges of “misleading commercial practices” and “complicity in the illegal exercise of the taxi profession.”
Thibaud Simphal, head of the company’s French operations, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager in western Europe, appeared in the Paris Correctional Court, but managed to get their case delayed until February 2016.
The trial relates to the company’s UberPOP service. Earlier this year, Francois Hollande’s Socialist government passed a law effectively banning UberPOP. The service was suspended and remains unavailable.
Uber’s lawyers moved quickly at the start of the trial to call the whole case into question, arguing that the government had moved quickly to bring this case to court in order to appease taxi drivers.
Earlier in the year, cab drivers held violent protests in France to demonstrate against Uber. The case will now be pushed to next year after Uber requested access to all evidence in the trial.
Uber has gone on the front foot in London, petitioning users to sign against new rules proposed by the U.K. capital’s transport authorities that could hit the service hard.
Transport for London (TfL)’s proposals include forcing drivers to work for only one cab company at a time and making it obligatory for taxi operators to allow users to pre-book up to seven days in advance. Also, the proposals include a rule that would create a mandatory five-minute wait time between ordering a cab and it arriving.
“If adopted, they (the rules) will mean an end to the Uber you know and love today,” Uber wrote in an email to London-based users of its app. “And the proposed rules threaten drivers’ livelihoods by forcing them to drive for just one operator. These rules make no sense.”
Uber’s low prices have caused a stir among London’s black cab drivers who have held numerous protests in the capital causing big disruptions over the last few months.