Uber drivers beware! Car at risk in Brussels after ruling

AP News
|
Posted: May 04, 2015 12:22 PM

BRUSSELS (AP) — A driver for the Uber mobile app taxi service had his car confiscated Monday after a Brussels court said the ride-sharing service does not respect taxi regulations in the Belgian capital.

Jacques Verhaegen, the lawyer for the Uber driver, said the company's drivers now "run the risk of having their car seized" in the Belgian capital.

The service, which allows consumers to break free of rigid fare structures criticized as protectionist and inefficient in many major cities, has been banned in Brussels and has faced an uphill struggle in several European nations as it tries to gain a foothold. Since its arrival on the scene a couple of years ago, taxi drivers across the continent have been adamant about protecting their turf.

Uber drivers use their own cars to pick up travelers. Taxi federations complain they don't have to meet the same standards as traditional cabbies do, giving them an unfair price advantage.

Judge Jeanne Lannoy highlighted those differences in her ruling, pointing to the professional and medical qualifications of the driver, the state of the vehicle and insurance coverage.

Uber said in a statement that the court's decision can be challenged on appeal and hoped Brussels would soon change its rules to allow it to offer its services for tech-savvy customers.

"We will stand by our driver partner supporting him until the end of the legal proceeding and beyond," it said.

Sam Bouchal of the Brussels taxi federation welcomed the ruling and said it should serve as a cautionary tale. "It should make others think twice before they start illegal activities," he said.