A French court has rejected a challenge by Uber Technologies Inc. against a law that bans its low-cost Uberpop.
The ruling by the country’s highest constitutional court keeps legal pressure on the car-hailing company as two top executives face trial.
On Tuesday, the court ruled that a provision in a new law that makes operating a system like Uberpop punishable with imprisonment is in accordance with the constitution, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In doing so, the court rejected Uber’s arguments that the law would effectively outlaw carpooling services that involve any kind of payment.
The court ruled that such services are easily distinguishable from Uberpop, which uses drivers without professional licenses.
The case strikes a blow at Uber at the same time as the California company seeks to ease regulatory restrictions on its business in France.
It also is a difficult sign for Uber’s two top executives in Paris, who face trial on Sept. 30 for a raft of taxi-related charges, including violating the law that was upheld.
Uber said the decision is “disappointing,” but added that it will still offer its professional services in France and push for “new, common sense regulations that offer riders more affordable, reliable options and drivers new job opportunities”.
The company and the two indicted men, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s head of Western Europe, and Thibaud Simphal, its chief for France, plan to vigorously defend themselves at trial, Uber executives say.
Tuesday’s decision directly affects only car services in France but the question it addresses stretches far beyond Uber to cover companies such as US-based home-rental company Airbnb Inc. or French peer-to-peer car-rental company Drivy, which enables its customers to rent their neighbors’ cars.
France’s approach of distinguishing potentially profitable activities like Uberpop from collaborative ones like carpooling could help determine the way other governments handle the so-called sharing economy.
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