Economy, Auto

Uber on Trial in France

Uber on Trial in France
Uber on Trial in France

Uber Co., the world's largest application-based taxi hailing service, and two of its bosses will go on trial in September over the company’s allegedly "illegal" ride-booking practices, prosecutors said on Tuesday, following violent protests by taxi drivers against the app.

Uber France, its director general Thibaud Simphal and Western Europe Director Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty are being charged with "misleading commercial practices, complicity in the illegal exercise of the taxi profession and illegal use of private data", the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

The two Uber bosses handed themselves over to police on Monday for questioning in relation to an investigation, which was launched last year, of the San Francisco-based company, AFP reports.

The investigation is targeting the UberPOP service offered by the company, in which clients are put in touch with cheaper unlicensed drivers.

The service has raised the hackles of cabbies across Europe who complain about unfair competition from drivers who do not have to adhere to the same regulations as they do, and who also undercut their pricing.

UberPOP has been illegal in France since January, but the law has proved difficult to enforce and it continues to operate.

A taxi strike in France last week turned violent as drivers set fire to vehicles and blocked highways creating a headache for thousands of tourists.

The French investigation is also targeting the casual UberPOP drivers for "illegally exercising the taxi profession", the prosecutor’s office said.

One UberPOP driver in France has already been given a 15-day suspended prison sentence, while 79 other cases are underway.

A total of 202 fines have been handed out.

The Uber managers will appear in court on September 30.

During the taxi strike in France last week, about 3,000 cabbies blocked access to the capital’s Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports. Ten people were arrested, seven police officers were injured and 70 vehicles were damaged in clashes between Uber drivers and taxi drivers.

And on at least two occasions in Strasbourg, eastern France, last week, taxi drivers posed as customers to lure Uber drivers to isolated spots where they were assaulted by cabbies and their vehicles damaged.

Uber, which offers several types of ride-sharing services, claims to have 400,000 users of its low-cost UberPOP service in France.

Uber has become one of the world’s most valuable startups, worth an estimated $50 billion, as it has expanded to more than 50 countries.