On the 24th October 2018, The trial of Brussels taxi drivers against Uber drivers opened in the morning. It all happened in front of the
chamber of commerce court.
Brussels taxi drivers position
Brussels taxi drivers are accusing Uber drivers in Brussels of unfair competition in the region of Brussels where Uber is operational, although it was announced that Uber will become operational very soon in Antwerp.
In late 2015, the Brussels justice system condemned Uber Pop service, considering that this service could be described as a taxi service, and considered that UberPop was a simply unfair competition to regular Brussels taxi driver.
Uber had responded by that time by launching UberX, this time the service was featured as a chauffeur-driven car rental service. known in French as Location de Voiture Avec chauffeur (LVC). and soon after they launched Uber Black service, followed by Uber Van.
Now it is these services that Brussels taxi drivers are suing to the court after almost 3 years of being operational in Brussels.
The objective of taxi drivers is to obtain the ban on the UberX, UberVan and UberBlack services in Brussels like they did with UberPop in 2015. The lawyers of the Brussels taxi drivers will try to prove that Uber provides exactly the same services as regular taxis (with a taximeter), but without having the rights to do so. According to the taxi drivers, Uber drivers are under a car rental license with driver (LVC), and must therefore comply with certain rules, under the law of Brussels.
Brussels Uber Drivers position
More than 1,000 drivers use the Uber app in Brussels, and over 100.000 users rely on Uber services. This is very much to the displeasure of taxi drivers, who accuse the Californian firm of diverting the law.
Uber’s lawyer, Etienne Kairis, pleaded on 31st October 2018 before the Commercial Court in Brussels. According to him, the term “Uber driver” is inappropriate because Uber is only an intermediary in the sector of urban transport. “There is no Uber driver, it’s a caricature, a slogan, it appeals to the media. This does not correspond to reality.
According to him, there is on one hand professionals in the transport of persons, with valid LVC (chauffeur-driven car rental) licences and on the other hand, there is the Uber platform which links a transport demand with a transport offer. Uber does not offer transport service as such. Uber does not have a car. It is a technology intermediation company, it can not be qualified as an LVC company or taxi company. He continued saying that there is nothing that shows his client is violating people transportation regulation in Brussels.
“We can not talk about disguised taxi or pirates taxi,” said Uber’s lawyer because they are not taxi services that are offered. The vehicle is not available to the public as a taxi but at the disposal of the members of the Uber platform.
What is next now?
Brussels taxi drivers ask the judge to order Uber to stop operating in Brussels otherwise they request the judge to pronounce a penalty of one million euros per day. The pleadings will continue on November 7th 2018 at 9:00. so let’s wait and see … definitely, the fight is not over yet on one side nor on the other.