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‘Uber’s operations are illegal in Portugal,’ rules appeal court

ubertaxiTo the cheery delight of Portugal’s taxi driver association, the appeal court in Lisbon has judged Uber’s operations in Portugal to be illegal, – “in violation of the national law.”

The first decision at the Lisbon central court in April 2015, stated that the transport service company had to pay €10,000 a day if it continued its operations. The US company went to the appeal court, which has confirmed the first judgment and leaves Uber with a multi-million euro bill.

Abel Marques, the lawyer for the taxi association ANTRAL,* said he is requesting compensation for damages of at least €15 million and demands the immediate stoppage of Uber’s activity, plus the payment of €10,000 per day since 2015, already amounting to €10 million.

The association of taxi drivers therefore demands a total of at least €25 million from Uber despite the government’s desire to see the personal transport service succeed. Legislation to enable Uber and similar app-based transport companies, to enter the market has been much discussed but never enacted.

Uber stated that “this situation reinforces once again the urgency of the approval by the Assembly of the Republic of a modern and transparent regulatory framework for mobility in Portugal that meets the expectations of thousands of users who use Uber daily to travel in our cities, and the more than 3,000 drivers who find Uber an economic opportunity.”

An official Uber source said the company would now “analyse this decision in detail to evaluate the next steps,” making clear that this decision is not applicable in Portugal, because the company that ANTRAL took to court is not the one that operates Uber services in Portugal.

This blunder has continued to be acted out as ANTRAL has continued to cite Uber Inc. in the US, rather than the company that operates the Portuguese business, Uber BV based in the Netherlands.

The Environment Ministry first circulated a proposed set of rules to regulate companies such as Uber and Cabify, the vehicles used and their drivers.
This was in September 2016 when the Environment Minister, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, said the proposed rules have been circulated to concerned parties during period of public consultation and, all being well, should enable the new style operators to become ‘street legal’ in November that year.

Communist Party committee member, Vasco Cardoso, said that the draft legislation was “an unacceptable concession to multinational interests” and a “threat to the survival” of the traditional taxi sector.

The Communist Party view is that thousands of small and medium businesses will go bust as the new breed of transport platform companies, owned by multinationals, move in.

The party wants to ban Uber from Portugal to safeguard an overpriced monoploy.