France’s highest court confirmed a ban on controversial ride-sharing service UberPOP on Tuesday (22 September) , dismissing a constitutional appeal by the US company.
In January, France banned the low-cost service, which puts customers in touch with private chauffeurs at budget prices, after furious taxi drivers protested around the country.
The San Francisco-based company filed a complaint with the European Union (EU) over the ban and also contested it at France’s constitutional council.
However as the ban was hard to police, Uber has kept operating the service in France. This led to a spate of violent protests in June that saw cars set alight and a number of UberPOP drivers and passengers attacked.
The company finally gave in after its two French bosses were arrested and charged with “misleading commercial practices (and) complicity in the illegal exercise of the taxi profession”, and suspended the application in July.
The constitutional council said the ban was in line with laws against “an organised system that puts clients in touch with people” offering taxi services but which are not part of an official transport company.
Uber, which offers several types of ride-sharing services, claims to have 400,000 UberPOP users in France.
The company has become one of the world’s most valuable startups, worth an estimated $50 billion (44.5 billion euros), as it has expanded to more than 50 countries.
But its meteoric rise has been accompanied by a wave of protests, bans and legal actions as taxi drivers across the world complain of unfair competition.
Faced with the ban, Uber has launched an upmarket alternative service called Uber X in several European markets which requires professionally licensed drivers.