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Uber Technologies Inc. has lost another ruling in Germany, after a regional court in Frankfurt ruled Dec. 19 that the company may not process orders for car-hire companies through its app.
The ruling stated the company’s business model, which brokers trips with private hire cars using Uber’s app, is anti-competitive and that some of the practices employed by the car-hire companies used by Uber in Germany hadn’t been adequately controlled. Customers will still be able to order regular taxis through Uber’s app, and Uber will continue to offer taxis through car-hire companies until the verdict is enforced.
“We will assess the court’s ruling and determine next steps to ensure our services in Germany continue. Working with licensed PHV operators and their professional drivers, we are committed to being a true partner to German cities for the long term,” Tobias Froehlich, head of communications at Uber in Germany, said in a statement.
Uber has slowly been launching its services in Germany after previously running foul of regulators. In May 2017, Germany’s highest court ruled that Uber’s Black service had violated competition laws and referred the case to the European Court of Justice. Uber was forced to stop parts of its service, which provides a ride-sharing app and allows nonprofessional drivers to use their own vehicle to transport passengers.
Uber says the latest decision shows there is too much room for interpretation of the German transport act, which the company says was established at a time when digital business models and app-based solutions did not exist.
The ban will be effective immediately and the verdict may be appealed at a higher regional court in Frankfurt.
The ruling remains a setback for Uber in Europe. The London transport regulator last month denied Uber a new operating license, saying the firm had failed to adequately verify drivers’ identities and safeguard the service for passengers. The ride-hailing app’s appeal could take years. In the meantime, it will be able to continue operating.
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