Uber Must Stop Car Services in Germany’s Two Biggest Cities

Uber Technologies Inc. must stop offering ride-sharing services in Germany’s two biggest cities a little more than a week after the company was able to topple a similar ban that would have applied throughout the country.

Courts in Berlin and Hamburg both permitted municipal governments to enact bans based on findings that the web-based service violates German laws. The ruling in the German capital applies to both the standard UberPop and premium UberBlack services because the company doesn’t have the proper license, court spokesman Stephan Grosscurth said in a statement today.

“The services violate multiple rules for transporting people that serve to protect customers,” said Grosscurth, citing the judges. UberPop drivers aren’t checked “to see whether they can take the special responsibility when transporting customers.”

The rulings are the latest in a flurry of court decisions involving the maker of the ride-hailing application. Both courts allowed the authorities to use fast-track rules to issue the orders even after the company had previously won the dismissal of cases in Berlin and Frankfurt by Uber’s competitors that sought to use emergency procedures. A Frankfurt court on Sept. 16 said a group representing traditional taxi dispatchers had waited too long to seek the urgent ruling.

The Hamburg appeals court today overturned a ruling won by Uber against a ban issued by that city, the tribunal’s spokesman Andreas Lambiris said in an e-mailed statement. A lower court had ruled last month that the wrong city department issued the ban. Both courts said Uber’s service violates the law.

Protect Customers

A Berlin court yesterday ruled in Uber’s favor in a case filed by taxi operators over the improper use of emergency measures. Today’s cases concern measures issued by the city governments, which are handled under other rules than the cases filed by the taxi groups.

“The ban serves to protect the viability and functioning of the taxi services, in which the public has an important interest,” Grosscurth said. It was “necessary to protect customers from dangers to life and limb, because their security doesn’t seem to be guaranteed under the business model” of Uber.

UberBlack isn’t in line with the law because the cars don’t return to headquarters, blurring the difference between taxis and rental cars, Grosscurth said.

A spokesman for San Francisco-based Uber said the company is reviewing the rulings and will continue to comply with German law. The Berlin ruling can be appealed. In Hamburg, Uber can file a case under standard proceedings to fight the ban.

Taxi Protests

Governments and regulators in cities around the world are restricting Uber’s business on the grounds it poses safety risks and unfairly competes with licensed taxi services. Cabbies with permits that can cost 200,000 euros ($254,000) apiece have staged protests in European cities including London, Madrid, Paris and Berlin.

Today’s Berlin case is: VG Berlin, 11 L 353.14). The Hamburg ruling is: OVG Hamburg, 3 Bs 175/14.

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