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Uber allowed to resume services in Berlin after ban suspended

updated 01:59 pm EDT, Mon August 18, 2014

Judge allows rideshare company to return to business, ban lasted only four days

Uber fans in Berlin can rejoice for the time being, as the company has been given the go-ahead to resume its UberPop and UberBlack services today for the time being. A judge from the Berlin Administrative Court suspended the municiple ban, allowing the ride-sharing service to return to business. There is no time frame on how long the suspension will last.

"This is good news for the great people of Berlin, and the thousands of German citizens already benefitting from Uber's great services. We're delighted to continue to bring our fresh and new ride-sharing service UberPop, plus our licensed limo service UberBlack, to Berlin and other cities in Germany as we challenge the old policies that were written before the smartphone was even invented," said General Manager for Germany Fabien Nestmann. "Uber's number one priority is safety, and we would like to underline that every driver on the Uber platform is insured."

The suspension of the ban comes on the heels of a reprieve granted in the city of Hamburg at the tail end of last month after traffic authorities banned the service. A judge for the Hamburg Administrative Court "preliminarily suspended" the ban until further notice. At the time, the court said that Uber could "continue its business in Hamburg and elsewhere in Germany." Uber is still running in Hamburg while the case is reviewed.

A Berlin judge followed suit, suspending the ban in Berlin that was issued last Thursday. Berlin Senate officials said that Uber wasn't doing enough to protect passengers and violated the Passenger Transport Act. It's claimed that Uber drivers aren't chauffeurs, but closer to cab drivers, which means they require two types of licenses for operation. Each violation could lead to a $33,300 (€25,000) fine for the company and a $26,700 (€20,000) fine for drivers.

The court didn't completely overturn the ban, but is allowing the company to operate as it looks into the legality of the case. It's possible that the court could side with the Berlin Senate and halt Uber's operation once more.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 10-03-99

    How can you ban something virtual from a city? I don't think a city could ban the Google website.. it's an app, you can't prevent people from using it..

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    A company that turns private individuals into public transport entrepreneurs is very much a concrete business, not just a virtual thing like a website.

    Public transport businesses are heavily regulated and inspected, have very specific requirements for insurance etc.

    That last one is a biggie: Uber's contracts lay all liability upon the driver. If it turns out that this is not a private ride-sharing coop, but that people are running Uber tours as a side business (and this is the angle Uber is blatantly advertising), then private liability insurance will tell Uber drivers to kindly **** off, and that they should have got commercial insurance.

    IOW, right now, it looks like Uber is making money on the backs of their drivers, who are being kept deliberately in the dark over the risks they are carrying.

    Or not - the jury is, quite literally, still out on that.

  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 10-03-99

    I don't think cities have jurisdiction over that.. somebody is looking for a service and it patches you up to people offering the service. it would be like banning all eBay or Kijiji transactions for that city.. or telling that people can't use the Yellow pages in your city. And anyway, how can they enforce it? they're gonna get a search warrant to check people's phones? they tell Apple they cannot let people with a certain zip code download the app?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Cities absolutely have jurisdiction over who gets the responsibility to start a public transport business. You're hardly going to find a western city in which taxi licensing isn't heavily regulated.

    This sort of thing is normal, and there are good reasons for it - similar to health inspections for restaurants.

    What is NOT regulated is you meeting up with friends every Friday for cooking - or car-pooling for the way to work.

  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 10-03-99

    It's not a public transport business. It's civilians giving rides to other civilians for a small cost. Here in Québec we already have a few web-based service for inter-city trip (AllôStop, AmigoExpress, etc). You can ask for a ride, or offer one, for a price determined by the driver. Uber is the same thing but for local trips. Like I said, it's like eBay or Kijiji, but for car rides. You don't need a business licence to sell your iPod to someone else, and you don't need a licence to give a ride to someone. And like I said, how can they enforce the ban? and how can they legally ban the app in the first place? why is it ok to give a ride to a friend, or a friend of a friend, or a nobody who hitch-hiked, but not to a nobody who hitch-hiked virtually?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    No, Uber a business.

    And you DO need a license to give rides to random strangers, commercially. These aren't friends or colleagues, which is in part what the dispute hinges on: whether it violates the letter, or if not, the spirit of the local laws.

    And since there are several cities in legal wrangling about it with Uber, it would seem that things aren't as clear-cut as you might like to think.

    IANAL, but AFAICT, neither are you.

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