back to article Uber is a taxi company, not internet, European Court of Justice advised

Uber is really a transport company, not an internet company, in official advice given to the European Court of Justice. If it's followed by the court, the opinion will have significant impact on horizontally integrated platforms operating in Europe that present themselves as intermediaries and thus bypass many regulations. …

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  1. Locky Silver badge

    But

    Are Jaffa Cakes biscuits?

    1. Justicesays

      Re: But

      Well, no, they are cakes, in the UK at least, under the LON/91/0160 decision of the VAT tribunal.

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: But

        Cakes go hard, biscuits go soft.

        1. The Nazz Silver badge

          Re: But

          Fancy that .....

          I'm a cake when an attractive woman appears but a biscuit when she walks on by.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But

            > I'm a cake when an attractive woman appears

            That's probably the most successful way to make them fancy you. :-)

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: But

              Cake or death?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: But

                > Cake or death?

                She might want you to drop dead, but she still won't fancy you if you do. On the other hand she might fancy cake. :-)

    2. wolfetone Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: But

      "Are Jaffa Cakes biscuits?"

      Oh for f**ks sake don't start that again.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But

      Yes there cakes hence why not called Jaffa Biscuits

      1. Not also known as SC Silver badge

        Re: But

        Why has this "Yes there cakes hence why not called Jaffa Biscuits" got down votes? It seems a perfectly sensible, and very El Reg type comment. Unless it's the use of "there" instead of "they're"...

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: But

          Maybe the DV's from us Americans? We don't know the difference between what you chaps call "biscuits" (I thought they're cookies in the States), cakes, or meringues.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: But

            We don't know the difference between what you chaps call "biscuits" (I thought they're cookies in the States)

            No - their biscuits are more akin to our scones (except usually, not sweet and more stodgy).

            Their dish "biscuits and gravy" is sort of like a cross between dumplings and scones in a gravy meat sauce.

    4. DontFeedTheTrolls
      Coat

      Re: But

      Is that a cake or a meringue?

      (I suspect only a small portion of the readership will get this)

      1. AndyS

        Re: But

        > Is that a cake or a meringue?

        No yer right, it's a cake.

      2. Symon Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: But

        What portion of the readership is Scottish?

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: But

        Is that a cake or a meringue?

        Yes.

    5. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Cakes or biscuits?

      You're still on that? According to XKCD it's the definition of a sandwich which is where it's at.

  2. R3sistance

    Finally some common sense

    Why has it taken so long to declare Uber a taxi service, it is CLEARLY a taxi service. You use the app to hail a car that picks you up from point A to point B, this isn't a coworker picking you up (ride-sharing), there is a monetary transfer for the service of transportation and that car wasn't going to make that journey if you didn't order it. Now as Uber is a taxi company, all Uber drivers should be required to have the relevant licenses/permits for being taxi drivers for the relevant country. Yes this will drive Uber prices up, this is because they are using drivers who should not be taxi drivers to push prices down and undersell local and legal taxi companies/operators.

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Only way I could see it not being a taxi company was if taxi companies could use Uber to get bookings. Which they can't. And Uber didn't employee its own drivers. Which it does.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Finally some common sense

        Only way I could see it not being a taxi company was if taxi companies could use Uber to get bookings. Which they can't.

        That's not quite true. Uber does cut dispatching deals with local taxi companies when it suits them. For example in Berlin, where uber's usual racket is verboten, using a uber app to call for a ride will get you a regular taxi. The price will be the regular taxi fare, plus couple of euros on top going to uber for dispatching your request.

        I can see where a visitor might find this a good deal - the local taxi companies apps do exist, but are rather crap, while calling for a taxi over the phone may be problematic if your german is none too good plus you do not quite know where you are and how to get where you want to be (Berlin has a lot of streets with identical names in different parts of the city, so you better remember either the postcode or the distruct name!)

        1. Mark 110 Silver badge

          Re: Finally some common sense

          Interesting. I didn't know they ran that model. Blurs the lines.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Seem to be unnecessarily complicated arguments. Surely it's simple - a taximeter cabriolet uses a meter to calculate the charge paid to the 'cabbie' by the passenger. Uber calculates a fare using an electronic meter (to work out miles x rate) and a clock meter to calculate the time charge. Plus extras. The fact the meter uses electrons rather than cogs really doesn't change anything. Very few Uber vehicles are horse-drawn these days either, which is what a cabriolet originally was.

      Oh yes, and 'hailing' a cab with a programme on a phone isn't fundamentally different to waving your umbella at the side of the street.

      If it quacks like a...

      I'm amazed they've been able to get away with this for so long. One is minded to wonder whether they have felt the need to 'employ' any local politicians.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Finally some common sense

        >I'm amazed they've been able to get away with this for so long. One is minded to wonder whether they have felt the need to 'employ' any local politicians.

        It's not about politicians; it's about lawyers and they absolutely love this shit. The application of law isn't based on right and wrong; it's based on the statute and the precedent set by past cases.

        In this case there isn't a law that says you're not allowed to start an internet company which provides taxi services. There are plenty of laws which state that if you start a taxi company you have to abide by the law set for taxi companies. Uber's defence is that they aren't a taxi company and this is what is being challenged.

        Now of course, this is the first time this has happened so there are no past cases to reference, which is why this has ultimately been progressed up through the various levels of courts to the ECJ.

        Once a ruling has been made, and assuming there are no further avenues for appeal, this will become the test case and will hopefully set the bar for internet companies providing a service and pretending that they're not.

        What I struggle to understand is why this is any different from a drug overlord saying I never touched any of the drugs and all the money I got was gifts from people who liked me. But the law is very specific and it's always possible to argue that two examples aren't the same. It's what lawyers do.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Yes clearly Uber is a taxi service. Their problem is they want to be a taxi service without abiding by any of the rules or regulations that govern being a taxi service - criminal background checks for drivers, fare tariffs, limits on number of licenced cars on the road, vehicle safety checks, adequate insurance, employment benefits, other regulations governing public transportation.

      So they want to pretend they're basically just a hookup service between people who want a lift and people prepared to give them a lift.

      I'm glad they're losing. They should abide by the rules laid down for taxis or gtfo.

      1. B Candler

        Re: Finally some common sense

        Their problem is they want to be a taxi service without abiding by any of the rules or regulations that govern being a taxi service - criminal background checks for drivers, fare tariffs, limits on number of licenced cars on the road, vehicle safety checks, adequate insurance, employment benefits, other regulations governing public transportation.

        Don't forget that all the drivers must already adhere to standards - at least in the UK they need to be licensed.

        So the question as to whether "Uber is a hail-a-cab (taxi) service" or "Uber is a minicab (private hire vehicle) service" is a side issue here. In both cases the drivers themselves *are* regulated and licensed, albeit under different regulations.

        What the legal opinion seems to be saying is that if you contact Uber, ask for a ride, and pay them, then Uber is providing some sort of transportation service, not an introduction agency. This seems a rare and remarkable victory for common sense.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Finally some common sense

          "Don't forget that all the drivers must already adhere to standards - at least in the UK they need to be licensed."

          In the US, taxi drivers must have a commercial license with an an endorsement for carrying passengers. They must also hold commercial insurance as all private insurance policies do not cover any commercial transportation activities.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Finally some common sense

        So they want to pretend they're basically just a hookup service between people who want a lift and people prepared to give them a lift.

        So they're saying that they are basically pimps then but use free-lancers instead of "owned".

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Why has it taken so long to declare Uber a taxi service

      Lobbying. That is a polite way of describing it.

    5. HAL-9000

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Couldn't agree more, and as a taxi service that it very clearly is, should be subject to all the regulation and conform to the public protections that other taxi services abide by.

      Good 1 Evil 0

    6. Philip Lewis

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Denmark KO'ed Uber recently for being a taxi company and incompatible with the latest revision of the taxi law (which might have been a stitch up, I wasn't following too closely).

      http://www.dr.dk/nyheder/penge/uber-lukker-i-danmark

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next you'll be telling me Snap isn't a "Camera company", and North Korea isn't a "democratic people's republic".

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Any country name with the words 'People' and 'Democratic' means exactly the opposite. There are/were more than just NK...

      1. mr.K

        "Any country name with the words 'People' and 'Democratic' means exactly the opposite."

        Does this also apply to countries with "great" in them?

        1. Stuart Moore

          And to "United" right now...

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            "And to "United" right now..."

            Which side of the pond are you on. Oh wait. . .

        2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: countries with "great" in them?

          This provides the answers:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNu8XDBSn10

  4. Alien Doctor 1.1

    I am really...

    going to miss the common sense rulings the EU have provided in many areas of life and business; I hate to think what protections we are going to lose in human rights, consumer rights and environmental issues in a couple of years - I don't trust any of our politicians to give a damn about non-law makers.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I am really...

      Are you moving to USA, or live in UK?

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: I am really...

      It's not that politicians don't give a damn about non-law makers, it's that they do give several damns about their rich friends and supporters, who are pissed off by having to be nice to butterflies, not pour shit in the river, and give servants holidays and wages.

      And when it comes to polling day, the little sheep read the Daily Heil and go and do as they're told again.

      When will it sink in to people's minds that voting Tory is a mortal sin, and anyone who does will burn in the fires of hell for all eternity?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am really...

        "When will it sink in to people's minds that voting Tory is a mortal sin"

        I don't think Labour are any better, just those involved with Greenpeace, PETA and CND will be beneficiaries, not the general public.

        Choose the party* least likely to screw you over and vote for them.

        *Why the hell most people still choose the same old pair, especially for local elections, then moan constantly about them is beyond me. IMO if we banned political parties and only had independents, things may be a whole lot better.

        1. Floydian Slip
          Coat

          Voting tactically might be a mistake

          It's worth commenting on the whole "vote tactically" debate.

          Tactics only look to the short term, strategy looks at the longer term and that's where we should be looking if we want to live in a competitive economy in a dog-eat-dog world.

          Remember - if you vote tactically you might win the battle. If you vote strategically you will win the war

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Voting tactically might be a mistake

            >Remember - if you vote tactically you might win the battle. If you vote strategically you will win the war

            Fuck that. If voting tactically helps prevent the old cunts salting the earth for future generations while they continue to live in their big houses on their fat pensions then I'm voting tactically.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Voting tactically might be a mistake

            "Remember - if you vote tactically you might win the battle. If you vote strategically you will win the war"

            Not necessarily. Don't forget the old phrase "missing the forest for the trees." You actually need to vote BOTH strategically AND tactically at the same time because ignoring either one could make you lose the war (because giving up in the short-term could render the long-term goal unreachable). That's one reason long-term voting in legislatures is so difficult. The short-term pain it could entail could result in the government being voted out: a practical example of a short-term loss undoing a long-term goal.

          3. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Voting tactically might be a mistake

            "Tactics only look to the short term, strategy looks at the longer term"

            Does that mean "tactical flashlight" really just means "short battery life"...?

          4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Voting tactically might be a mistake

            Tactics only look to the short term, strategy looks at the longer term

            Strategy is where you want to be, tactics is how you get there. And logistics is what you do it with :-)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I am really...

          "I don't think Labour are any better, just those involved with Greenpeace, PETA and CND will be beneficiaries, not the general public."

          Pen-y-gors would have had an upvote from me, until that last paragraph, trying to make out that all other parties are somehow more saintly than the Tories.

          Having worked alongside an RMT rep at a part-public, part-private owned transport concern, the people who will be even greater beneficiaries will be RMT reps. The person in question already used paid working hours to go to political events that weren't about transport, but no-one dared complain: I can't see Mr Corbyn moving to stop that kind of thing, any more than I can see UKIP moving to force people to repay any funds accepted from the EU while fighting against it.

        3. Paul 129
          Flame

          Re: I am really...

          "If we banned political parties and only had independents, things may be a whole lot better."

          NO!

          They'd be different, not better. First past the post voting generates two party systems, so the polling system would need to be changed. The media tries to betray the political class as hopelessly out of touch with the real people, purely for their own agenda (ratings, attack money, personal political leanings). The good politicians don't want to be out of touch, they want to talk to everyone, and fix issues.

          We NEED MORE good, listening politicians. We need to LISTEN in return.

          The best way to do this is to GET INVOLVED!

          Here we are farting electrons. Talking to your local rep or being at your local branch, you are being heard.

          It doesn't take much.

          There is no point complaining about a dead body on your front door step with no blood and a suspicious set of holes.

          Talk to people, build your community and storm the castle!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

        If you fall for the Tory/Labour tribalism, you are the problem. They are all liar politicians, I'm with the ancient Greeks (IIRC), those that seek public office should be barred from public office.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

          Then how do they find proper candidates without interfering with their lives? Pulling a farmer from his fields or some other worker from the job he/she depends on to sustain a living is generally seen as a Bad Thing. What options do you have when the ONLY people willing to take on the job ARE those who seek public office?

          1. Mephistro Silver badge

            Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now? (@ Charles 9)

            "What options do you have when the ONLY people willing to take on the job ARE those who seek public office?"

            A well designed Demarchy would fit here.

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