MAN ABOUT TOWN NO LONGER: ...at least not in Germany, where a court has told the car service to cease and desist or by fined possibly R3.5-millon. Image: Uber website
FRANKFURT, Germany - A court here has slapped an injunction on the popular internet-based car pick-up service Uber because it allegedly lacked the necessary legal permits.
Uber has been the subject of protests by taxi drivers in many European cities, including Paris and London. It is still legal in South Africa.
The injunction, issued on August 2, makes the Uber ban complete across Germany.
The ruling, which Uber has said it would appeal, was issued by the Frankfurt regional court last week but only made public on Tuesday.
The San Francisco-based firm allows passengers to summon cars using a smartphone app and the service is often significantly cheaper than that of normal taxi companies, from which of course the complaint came.
Uber could be fined the equivalent of R3.5-millon if it ignores the ban.
The service, available in Germany since early 2013, had already been banned in a number of German cities, among them Berlin. Under the Frankfurt court's ruling, the ban is now nationwide.
The German taxi federation BZP welcomed the ruling, insisting that the legal permits required under German law "are not an end in themselves, but safeguard quality and customer protection".
"We're not frightened by new market players, BZP added, "but competition can only function if the same legal conditions apply to everybody. Internet services do not operate outside the law."
Uber is planning an aggressive expansion in Germany despite backlash. It announced on August 26 2014 that it was experiencing "huge demand" for its services in German cities where it is not currently operating.
It plans to move into Cologne and Stuttgart later in 2014, and is also eyeing Nuremberg, Bonn, Essen, Dortmund and Potsdam. From August to December 2014, it expects to double the number of subscribed users in Germany, after growing fivefold to date later in 2014, the company said.
UBER IN SA
Is Uber’s mobile phone app just a “new toy” on the market or does it have the potential to change South Africa’s cab industry? South Africa was Uber’s only African outpost until August 2014, when it reached Lagos in Nigeria.
Since its launch in 2009, Uber has spread to 145 cities across the globe - much to the alarm of cab drivers in London, New York and beyond.
But how will it affect South African taxi cab drivers?
We find out...