back to article European court: Let's not kid ourselves, Uber. You're a transport firm, not a 'digital service'

Uber should be treated as a transport company, not a digital service, the European Court of Justice declared today. The ruling (PDF) said that the service Uber provides "is more than an intermediation service consisting of connecting, by means of a smartphone application, a nonprofessional driver using his or her own vehicle …

  1. AndyS

    So...

    Company which provides a car and driver to take a person from A to B, whose drivers are not allowed to work for any rivals, has been classed by the courts as a taxi company which employs drivers.

    Glad to see some common sense prevailing. It's really impossible to classify the company any other way, unless you also allow all bus companies to classify themselves as printers and also ignore all transportation rules (since all they do is sell small bits of paper, after all - just like all that Uber provide is a simple app).

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: So...

      I was under the impression that Uber drivers use their own cars. Obviously, if that its not the case, it is just another taxi company.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        Taxi and private hire drivers also use their own cars.

      2. AndyS

        Re: So...

        > I was under the impression that Uber drivers use their own cars. Obviously, if that its not the case, it is just another taxi company.

        Virtually every taxi company runs driver-owned vehicles. Doesn't alter the point at all. If I phone Valu-cabs and ask for a cab, and a man turns up with a cab to drive me to the airport for a fee that I agreed with Valu-cabs, the exact ownership structure of the car used is irrelevant. Valu-cabs are providing the service to me.

        As that stands, the Valu-cab driver might or might not be self employed. But as soon as Valu-cabs says the driver can't also take work for A2B, then he has become an employee.

      3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: So...

        I was under the impression that Uber drivers use their own cars.

        Sorta. Due to most cities in the UK requiring a private hire license for Uber-ing the cars are usually leased via lease houses which specialize in supplying private hire vehicles compliant to current regs.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: So...

      > It's really impossible to classify the company any other way

      Oh, I think it can be classified as a non-law-abiding, rapist employing, driver and passenger gouging, rapacious, sexually-harassing, sociopathic kind of company.

    3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Glad to see some common sense prevailing.

      ECJ rulings usually do tend on come down on the side of common sense.

      Thankfully we'll soon be able to fall back on decisions by British courts, enforcing Brutish law, and won't have to worry about common-sense any more. (Except for the many occasions when ECJ rulings will still apply, although without a UK judge involved)

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: So...

        You do realise that for the most part British consumer protection law goes beyond that required by EU law? And that London has declined to renew Uber's licence?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So...

          "You do realise that for the most part British consumer protection law goes beyond that required by EU law?"

          Examples welcome.

          Obvious example: UK retailers generally expect to provide 12 months warranty on consumer goods. EU law requires 24 months (2 years).

          Oh hang on, British retail practice is worse than EU law. How can that happen?

          Further reading e.g.

          http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-1677034/Two-year-warranty-EU-law.html

          (26 Jan 2010)

          "The EU directive in question is 1999/44/EC. The full wording is contained here (open the word documtent and scroll to page 7) but the important bit is this: 'A two-year guarantee applies for the sale of all consumer goods everywhere in the EU. In some countries, this may be more, and some manufacturers also choose to offer a longer warranty period.'

          As with UK law, a seller is not bound by the guarantee 'if the (fault) has its origin in materials supplied by the consumer'. But the EU rule does not require the buyer to show the fault is inherent in the product and not down to their actions. "

          1. Tringle

            Re: So...

            Really, have you ever tried to take a faulty product back to a French retailer? You're lucky if they give you a credit note to spend in their own store with a validity of a month, because it is not them but the manufacturer or importer who is responsible. No, you have to somehow get the product back to the manufacturer, it could be anywhere, at your own expense and risk. If you're lucky you might get it back. I had a DSLR with a manufacturing flaw. Retailer disowned it, I got it back to the importer in Paris, cost more than €50 in insured postage, and it was 6 weeks before the replacement arrived. So I was out of pocket and without my camera. This experience is not atypical. EU guarantees are basically worthless, although some of the larger retailers here in La Belle are now starting to accept moral (because there is no legal) responsibility; they've had to since Amazon arrived with their no questions asked customer service. UK retailers are staggeringly customer focused in comparison.

            1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: So...

              Really, have you ever tried to take a faulty product back to a French retailer?

              Dunno about France. Never had any issues with Germans, Bulgarians or Spanish. Warranty is complied to without a single squeak, refund or replacement in full on the spot.

              1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                Re: So...

                Dunno about France.

                As in most places it depends on the shop. Big chains/retailers don't quibble, small ones will always try to persuade you it isn't their responsibility.

            2. jmch Silver badge

              Re: So...

              Here in Switzerland, outside of EU, typical guarantees are 2 years (not sure if it's by law, could be). Every time I've had to return anything, it was replaced or repaired at no additional cost and without batting an eyelid, no arguments whatsoever.

              Sometimes it's not just the letter of the law, but the culture of quality product and doing things the right way (although in many cases Swiss service still leaves much to be desired)

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So...

              How long did you wait ? Even in the US most places gives you any were from 30-60 days to return it.

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: So...

            Obvious example: UK retailers generally expect to provide 12 months warranty on consumer goods. EU law requires 24 months (2 years).

            Oh hang on, British retail practice is worse than EU law. How can that happen?

            You're a little out of date, it doesn't. Under the Sale of Good act 1979, updated by the Consumer Rights act of 2015, you have statutory protections of up to 6 years (England and Wales) or 5 years (Scotland). Retailers may want to keep offering only 1 year, they will lose if taken to court. As you note, EU minimum is 2 years but In some countries, this may be more. In the UK, it is.

            1. gnasher729 Silver badge

              Re: So...

              You are confusing the time when your rights run out with the time where you get anything.

              The 6 years or 5 years is the date when the seller can say "we don't know you. We have no idea if you are our customer. Go away". The time when they have to fix things is less. Actually it is not a fixed time, but a "reasonable" time, and "reasonable" depends on the product. (Obviously if you enter.a 2 year phone contract then you can reasonably expect the phone to last for two years. Other things might be less or more ). And after six months you need to prove that the defect was present when you received the item (before six months the seller would have to prove that the defect was _not_ present when you received the item).

              And you are confusing statutory consumer rights with warranties. Usually the manufacturer gives you a warranty. The seller doesn't need to give you anything, because you have statutory rights by law.

      2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: So...

        "Thankfully we'll soon be able to fall back on decisions by British courts, enforcing Brutish law"

        That's what currently happens. The ECJ does not make decisions on the facts in a case.

        It makes decisions on points of law.

        In this case, whether Uber is just a technological platform for ridesharing, or that it is a transportation company. One of the key points is who sets the price (driver, rider or Uber) and since neither the rider or driver get any ability to change said price, it's a transport company.

        Now that ruling has been made, the appropriate court (in Spain one presumes) can now make a ruling upon the facts in the case, including that Uber is a transport not tech company.

        Each EU country legislates taxis and private hire vehicles differently, and Uber appears to be operating as a private hire company for most of them.

        I'll also note that the ruling on Uber drivers being employees has some problems, in particular that Uber cannot require drivers to work (or not work) certain hours. So if there are ten drivers, and they all want to work 4pm to midnight, they can, despite it being more profitable to Uber if they did a shift system.

        Never used them myself, and it's pretty clear to me (IANAL) that they are some form of transport providing company 'cos they set they bloody fares, and this is another delaying tactic from getting the actual ruling on whether they are operating taxis or private hire vehicles.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: So...

      The trouble is, and this seems to be what the ECJ has managed to wade through, 'Uber' isn't one company; there is 'Uber' the app developer, 'Uber' the platform operator, 'Uber' the taxi company (which is likely to be a different entity in each geographic region 'Uber' offers services in) and is the one the drivers contract with, etc..

      1. Test Man

        Re: So...

        "The trouble is, and this seems to be what the ECJ has managed to wade through, 'Uber' isn't one company; there is 'Uber' the app developer, 'Uber' the platform operator, 'Uber' the taxi company (which is likely to be a different entity in each geographic region 'Uber' offers services in) and is the one the drivers contract with, etc.."

        I think you misunderstand - it's pretty much the same with many other companies with subsidiaries in multiple countries.

        It makes not a jot of difference what the operating company that's filed at Companies House/EU-country-equivalent is, if it's operating as a taxi company it's a taxi company. ALL of Uber's subsidiaries that operate in the EU (that uses the parent company's resources to provide the same service) are all taxi companies as defined in EU law.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: So...

          I think you misunderstand

          Err no, I suggest you read the text of the Uber submissions to TfL where they play the game - we don't employ any taxi drivers, we just provide an app, the drivers are the responsibility of our customer, the Uber London taxi co. ...

          it's pretty much the same with many other companies with subsidiaries in multiple countries.

          Agree, I purchased 3 DVDs on Amazon.co.uk last week, all in stock at 'Amazon', only after placing my order did they reveal that each DVD would be supplied by a different 'Amazon' subsidiary and I subsequently received three packages through my letterbox, naturally each via a different courier/mail service. [Aside: full marks to Royal Mail who outperformed the couriers and actually delivered next day, the day Amazon forecasted for all three deliveries...]

          Hence why we should give credit for the ECJ for not being suckered by Uber's deliberate obfuscations.

    5. Pseu Donyme

      Re: So...

      I suppose it is also relevant that Uber sets the rates the customer pays (thereby controlling what the driver gets after Uber's cut as well); if Uber were merely a real-time market with an app for access matching customers seeking to go from A to B with drivers willing to make that happen for a price agreed between a customer and a driver (or maybe set by a regulator) it would be a different matter.

    6. Naselus

      Re: So...

      "It's really impossible to classify the company any other way"

      Well, it's looking increasingly like you can classify it as a criminal enterprise.

    7. Mikerahl

      Re: So...

      I think common sense would be more if the entire concept of the "taxi license" was eliminated and replaced by a simple driver's license in the same model as a truck driver license, which would be provided at cost to those who pass the requisite exams (same as a trucker, bus driver, etc.). Take the entire management of such licenses away from the cities (they don't get to manage trucks either). If someone wants to drive a taxi, they can drive a taxi. No limits, no "cartels", just get your license and you can drive.

      1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

        Re: So...

        @Mikerahl - what problem are you trying to fix by changing the law?

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: So...

        That *is* how taxi licensing works.

        All you need for a vehicle to be licensed to carry passengers is that it passes the licensing test (basically, MOT-Plus).

        All you need to operate as a driver licensed to drive a vehicle carrying passengers is for you to comply with the application requirements to be a taxi driver (in my city, basically O level English and Maths, and a local geography test, plus the legally required driving license, bankruptcy declaration and convictions declaration).

        All you need to operate as a taxi control and dispatch centre is for you to comply with the application requirements to be a taxi control and dispatch centre.

      3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: So...

        @Mikerahl

        Taxi licence along the lines of an HGV licence? It's a start, but local authority needs to be involved - or can someone from a village in the Welsh Marches with a licence potter into central Lunnon and start touting for business? Would not be good.

    8. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Here in Dundee the Council has been locked in a war with the Cabbies over license numbers. Many of the Cabbies are concerned the council has issued too many licenses which make it much harder for drivers to make a living. Now Uber want to come into that market? There is no gap for them. If the current drivers cannot make a buck how are Uber drivers supposed to?

      Our mechanic said they had worked on a car, a Skoda, which was being driven 24/7 by a roster of drivers. This sort of thing is increasingly common. Maximises the use of the asset base.

      Until they perfect self drive cars which can go anywhere Uber cannot compete with that.

    9. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: So...

      As I understand it, in the UK Uber is a Private Hire company whose drivers are self employed. I am perhaps missing what this changes (if anything) in the UK.

      That you can dump the responsibility traditionally undertaken by an employer onto the employee by making them self employed is an issue far larger than Uber alone.

      My simplistic understanding of the difference between a Private Hire licence and a taxi licence is that you have to book a private hire (be it by phone call or app), wheras a taxi can pick you up from the street without any pre-arrangement.

      Unless I've missed something significant, how is Uber ever considered a taxi rather than private hire company in the UK?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This decision should be hailed as they've hackneyed the idea that they are just a communication app.

  3. x 7

    It would be interesting to know how the cars are insured. I can't see any insurance company agreeing they're anything less than private hire cars.

    Or do Uber provide the insurance?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      The drivers generally hire the cars from specialist leasing companies that provide fully insured and maintained cars for the private hire trade.

      1. x 7

        "The drivers generally hire the cars from specialist leasing companies that provide fully insured and maintained cars for the private hire trade"

        In which case the cars are being leased and insured as private hire vehicles........

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: do Uber provide the insurance

      Don't need no pesky insurance, faked documents will do:

      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/12/uber-whistleblower-exposes-breach-driver-approval-process

  4. Lusty Silver badge

    I take it E-Bay will be subject to the same laws as shops going forwards then, even when it's a shop I'm buying from? Great news, one throat to choke!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Barcelona, Spain

    "The case was originally brought after Uber was told to obey local taxi rules in Barcelona, Spain in 2014."

    As opposed to Barcelona the planet, where they've got dogs with no noses?

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Barcelona, Spain

      As opposed to Barcelona, Catalonia, not-in-Spain. :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Barcelona, Spain

        As opposed to Barcelona, Catalonia, not-in-Spain. :-)

        I have no skin in thsi game but catalonia is part of Spain at leats ta the moment.

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: Barcelona, Spain

          @AC

          but catalonia is part of Spain at leats ta the moment.

          At the risk of starting a shitstorm of downvotes from Spanish fans of proto-fascism, I would point out that the government of Catalunya declared the country independent.

          1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            ... I would point out that the government of Catalunya declared the country independent ...

            Ah, good old UDI; always results in a thriving economy.

          2. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            "At the risk of starting a shitstorm of downvotes from Spanish fans of proto-fascism, I would point out that the government of Catalunya declared the country independent."

            Is there a reason why you spelled every word in that sentence the English way (including "Spanish") except "Catalonia"?

          3. Test Man

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            "At the risk of starting a shitstorm of downvotes from Spanish fans of proto-fascism, I would point out that the government of Catalunya declared the country independent."

            Not recognised by any country (as defined by the UN, and before you ask - also not by any other state in the world whatsoever) in the world though, including the one you're in.

            Therefore, Barcelona, Spain as far you're concerned (officially).

            1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

              Re: Barcelona, Spain

              "Ditto Paris, does not need ', France' added, but 'Hilton' is acceptable."

              It's (she's) really not.

          4. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            "At the risk of starting a shitstorm of downvotes from Spanish fans of proto-fascism, I would point out that the government of Catalunya declared the country independent"

            Oooh, can of worms time! As someone who has 2 close friends, one of which married to a girl from Madrid and one to a girl from Barcelona, I have been exposed to more than my fair share of the ins and outs of this one.

            Suffice it to say that while I am firmly on the side of pro-independence Catalonia should they want it, it has to be pointed out that the issues (as always) are very far from black vs white. To start off with, the referendum that was won by 90%+ was boycotted by 'remainers' and polls suggest the real leave vs remain numbers are very close.

            Happily, the Spanish Central government has organised new regional elections for this weekend, so we will know soon enough whether the Catalan mood is truly pro-independence

            1. defiler Silver badge

              Re: Barcelona, Spain

              Oooh, can of worms time! As someone who has 2 close friends, one of which married to a girl from Madrid and one to a girl from Barcelona, I have been exposed to more than my fair share of the ins and outs of this one.

              Umm... Am I supposed to say "fnar"? :-/

            2. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Barcelona, Spain

              "To start off with, the referendum that was won by 90%+ was boycotted by 'remainers' and polls suggest the real leave vs remain numbers are very close."

              By boycotting, they conceded their votes and therefore cannot protest the consequences. The only way to properly protest a vote is to vote as much as you can in spite of the circumstances.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Barcelona, Spain

                "By boycotting, they conceded their votes and therefore cannot protest the consequences. The only way to properly protest a vote is to vote as much as you can in spite of the circumstances."

                Except the vote had been declared an illegal action by the legal government, so by not voting they were upholding the law as it stands, not conceding.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: Barcelona, Spain

                  But now you're into a sovereignty issue, and sovereignty by definition entails self-determination. So legalities turn gray here as the vote involves an move towards self-rule. Therefore, whether or not the government is legal or not may not be possible to conclusively say. Remember, the United States declared its own independence unilaterally and was resisted by the "legal" government of the time (the UK), yet ultimately the US gained its sovereignty. IOW, it's not a black-and-white issue here.

                  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: Barcelona, Spain

                    All very true and correct, of course, but the point about the referendum still stands. It was declared illegal and so the majority of voters were those who wanted change while those "voting" for the status quo stayed away from a declared illegal action. Polls seem to be indicating that an actual and legal referendum vote would be too close to call. The elections today seem to indicate that the majority voted for parties on the side of independence, bit the party with the single largest vote share was a unity party.

                    It's also worth looking at Scotland. The SNP, strongly pro-independence, swept to power and have retained power almost to the exclusion of all other parties, and yet the referendum vote was against independence, so even people voting for pro-independence parties might not themselves be independence voters. People vote for all sorts of reasons, and, to be honest, I think much of the time it's a vote for the "least worst" option, ie voters never agree with all of the policies of their chosen candidate/party.

          5. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            I would point out that the government of Catalunya declared the country independent.

            It turns out they didn't (link in Spanish). There were two sections to that law, they only voted on the part which didn't have the UDI, and not even that vote was entered into the official record. None of the work you'd expect setting up a new country happened the day after either, everything ground to a halt and leading politicians fled to Belgium.

            So aside from the lack of international support, it never really happened in the first place.

            Still, Spain still came down like a tonne of bricks on them. It was debatable if the high court had the powers to investigate what was happening, so just in case, they gave themselves the powers to investigate sedition, but only when it's alleged that a region has declared independence.

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Barcelona, Spain

      Who stole your pie today ?

      It's incredibly Eurocentric to assume that all cities have distinct names. For all I know there may be a Barcelona, WA, US. Or Barcelona, Mexico.

      Same way "Birmingham" is either "Birmingham, UK" or "Birmingham, Alabama".

      Whilst predominantly UK based, El Reggers are a diverse bunch, and it's fair to cater for that

      1. x 7

        Re: Barcelona, Spain

        There's only one Birmingham

        the rest just stole the name and need qualification as to their location

        1. Naselus

          Re: Barcelona, Spain

          "There's only one Birmingham"

          Birmingham's not a place. Birmingham is a state of mind.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Devil

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            Birmingham's not a place. Birmingham is a state of mind.

            But fortunately, by the miracle of modern medical science, even this can mostly be cured. With sympathy, drugs and long-term therapy...

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Barcelona, Spain

              "But fortunately, by the miracle of modern medical science, even this can be mostly cured with sympathy, drugs and therapy..."

              Unfortunately, native state of mind is one of those you pretty much can't treat. It's pretty much a "Once an X, always an X" thing, much like stupidity.

          2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            Birmingham's not a place. Birmingham is a state of mind.

            Are you getting the Birmingham Blues?

            https://genius.com/Electric-light-orchestra-birmingham-blues-lyrics

      2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Barcelona, Spain

        @JimmyPage

        El Regers do come from around the world (and beyond - see amanfrommars) but we all know it is a UK based thing, and so should read things in that context. So 'Birmingham' does not need qualification if referring to the grimy blot on the Midlands landscape, but if it's the one in USlandia then it does. Ditto Paris, does not need ', France' added, but 'Hilton' is acceptable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Barcelona, Spain

          "El Regers do come from around the world (and beyond - see amanfrommars) but we all know it is a UK based thing, and so should read things in that context. So 'Birmingham' does not need qualification if referring to the grimy blot on the Midlands landscape, but if it's the one in USlandia then it does. Ditto Paris, does not need ', France' added, but 'Hilton' is acceptable."

          Unless you happen to LIVE in Alabama or (for the latter) Texas, especially IN the respective communities, meaning THEY'RE your native ground and your context will almost certainly be fixed as such.

          1. Colabroad

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            The birthplace of Judas Priest has prior art to all the other Birminghams, so without qualification most will assume you mean the original.

            Much like if you were to talk about the current Monarch you should clarify you mean Queen Lizzie II: Electric Boogaloo rather than the one started by Richard Branson.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Barcelona, Spain

          if it's the one in USlandia then it does.

          One? There are 15 Birminghams in the US. There are even two Parises in Europe (France and Denmark)

          1. Naselus
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Barcelona, Spain

            "There are even two Parises in Europe (France and Denmark)"

            And on several occasions, there have been two Europeans in Paris.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Barcelona, Spain

        'Same way "Birmingham" is either "Birmingham, UK" or "Birmingham, Alabama".'

        I think you mean Birmingham or that other place in the US with no imagination.

        1. My other car is an IAV Stryker
          Facepalm

          Re: US place names inherited from England

          You can't blame the current US citizenry for the homage they paid to Mother England when setting up towns way back when. If you did, we'd have to rename most of the New England region including that very (unofficial) nickname and a few states!

          You want to confuse people where you're from in the US? Try "Buffalo", "Plymouth", "Rockford" or "Rochester". I'm from one of those, and more than HALF the states have one city/town of that particular name. Some have variants of (any/all of) the above in addition (name + "Lake" or "Hills" or somesuch); not only does that add for postal confusion, it's also a real letdown when one hears the name on the radio for weather-related school closings (snow) and they continue to say the other name instead of their own.

          (Real tricky Reg readers might now have enough clues to find my former hometown -- or at least come real close -- but would you really want to?)

          1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

            Re: US place names inherited from England

            "You want to confuse people where you're from in the US? Try 'Buffalo', 'Plymouth', 'Rockford' or 'Rochester'."

            Pfff...! Try "Springfield" There are 33 "Springfield"s in the U.S. Add in another 30-some-odd "Springfield Township"s and you've really GOT something! There's a reason that The Simpsons "Everytown" was named Springfield.

        2. O RLY

          RE: Birmingham

          Fun fact: the City Council of Birmingham, UK accidentally used the skyline of Birmingham, Alabama in one of their mailings thanking local residents for their success in recycling.

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/west_midlands/7560392.stm

      4. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Barcelona, Spain

        "For all I know there may be a Barcelona, WA, US. Or Barcelona, Mexico."

        AFAIK there is a Barcelona in both Colombia and Venezuela, although the "EU" context should rule those out. The one in Cornwall, on the other hand...

    3. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Barcelona, Spain

      As opposed to Barcelona, Italy or Barcelona, England I presumed.

      It's what the Court said. They probably have to be fussy about that sort of thing.

    4. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Barcelona, Spain

      "As opposed to Barcelona the planet..."

      As opposed to Barcelona, Cornwall :)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona,_Cornwall

    5. 080

      Re: Barcelona, Spain

      "As opposed to Barcelona the planet, where they've got dogs with no noses?"

      How do they smell?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Barcelona, Spain

        "How do they smell?"

        Terrible, of course.

    6. Michael Thibault

      Re: Barcelona, Spain

      "dogs with no noses?"

      That's oxymoronic.

  6. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    On the whole spanish town front I'll just leave this here:

    Barcelona

    Why?

    Mostly cause I'm not quite awake and I'm digging through an SOS report on a cluster reboot.

  7. Gra4662

    Taxi firms

    So why don't normal Taxi firms have to pay minimum wage etc as per the Uber ruling?

    Normal taxi firms are just crap, ordered a taxi 24 hours in advance and it still turned up an hour late because they were so busy. At least with Uber I would know when the ride is turning up!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Taxi firms

      "So why don't normal Taxi firms have to pay minimum wage etc as per the Uber ruling?"

      Where does it say they don't?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Taxi firms

      "Normal taxi firms are just crap, ordered a taxi 24 hours in advance and it still turned up an hour late because they were so busy. At least with Uber I would know when the ride is turning up!"

      "Normal" taxi firms around here are mostly using apps and you can track their arrival time. Some were even doing it before Uber was "invented".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Barcelona?

    Barcelona, Cornwall, UK

    Barcelona, Philippines

    Barcelona, Aruba

    Barcelona, Arkansas, USA

    Barcelona, Venezuela

    Barcelona, Italy

    oh, and

    Barcelona, Spain.

    1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

      Re: Barcelona?

      Chronology though?

  9. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Lollin'...

    "However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours."

    And we are all quite thankful for that.

  10. mintus55

    Newcastle

    There's a lot more Newcastles than Barcelonas

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Newcastle

      But there's only one Newcastle Brown...

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Newcastle

        But there's only one Newcastle Brown

        Not that it has any connections with Newcastle these days. Any Newcastle.

        1. EddieD

          Re: Newcastle

          Oddly, the Scottish and Newcastle Brewing Company has no breweries in Scotland or Newcastle.

          And as for only being one Newcastle Brown, the younger me would very much wish that was the case, as several is a recipe for the next day being a painful blur.

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Newcastle

            Oddly, the Scottish and Newcastle Brewing Company has no breweries in Scotland or Newcastle.

            That's why they changed to Scottish Courage / Scottish Courage Brands when they closed the Newcastle brewery. Then SCB sold out to Heineken.

            However, they still own the Caledonian brewery in Edinburgh. It's small compared to the old McEwan brewery, but then most Caley beers are brewed in Tadcaster these days. Must be a laugh softening up the water first of all, because around those parts it comes out of the taps in pucks it's so bloody hard...

        2. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Newcastle

          Not that it has any connections with Newcastle these days. Any Newcastle.

          What do I do? Upvote because you are right, or downvote for the same reason, but wish you weren't?

  11. Detective Emil

    Pass the sick bag

    Could El Reg possibly translate Uber's nauseating self-serving canned statements into something more easily stomached?

  12. Blake St. Claire

    Non-professional drivers?

    Oh, are they not paying the drivers now?

    FWIW, over here on the left side of the pond, I see cars with both Uber and Lyft stickers in the window.

    Trying to think if I've seen cars with both Uber and Ola stickers when I was in India.

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    Exellent news

    This company is pure scum and really needs to be taken to the woodshed. This is a step in the right direction.

  14. Notrub

    Anti-competitive?

    Just a few misconceptions being bandied around above.

    Uber DOES NOT prohibit it's drivers from working for competitors.

    What it DOES do (maybe) is cease using them if they take advantage of customers referred to them by Uber, in order to promote a different, rival business.

    This is no different to going into Robert Dyas, standing next to the checkout and handing business cards out to customers for your personal hardware etailer. You'd be quickly evicted from the store. Nothing to do with employment status.

    NB That is not to dispute that it IS a taxi service - ridiculous to pretend otherwise.

  15. Al Black
    FAIL

    Uber is a service; Stupid Judges!

    The ruling (PDF) said that the service Uber provides "is more than an intermediation service consisting of connecting, by means of a smartphone application, a nonprofessional driver using his or her own vehicle with a person who wishes to make an urban journey" I would have said that is EXACTLY what Uber is. This ruling just goes to show that judges are incompetent to make rulings on disruptive technologies. The only life experience they had before becoming a Judge was working as a Lawyer. None of them understand real life and working to earn a living.

  16. Michael Thibault

    "Although its licence has run out, drivers can continue to work in London throughout the appeal process."

    IOW, no licence, but business as usual? And Uber -- being a self-styled disruptor -- wants to operate without need for a licence or any regulatory oversight. What human can operate without a licence? If none, then this is asymmetrical -- lawfare. The litigation is an operating expense, most likely. Mandate Corporate Kill Switches!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "IOW, no licence, but business as usual? And Uber -- being a self-styled disruptor -- wants to operate without need for a licence or any regulatory oversight. What human can operate without a licence?"

      Yes officer, I'm current;y driving my car without a valid driving licence, but I'm in dispute with the DVLA over their reasons for withdrawing it. I'm sure you understand and won't be issuing a fine. </sarc>

  17. Slx

    Sense and logic prevails

    I am getting a bit fed up with what I tend to see as "tech washing" or "app dazzle".

    If you are using online technology to simply streamline an existing business and shake up an established market without really providing anything new, it is not a new business.

    Other than a change of medium of communication and payment, I don't really see any difference between booking through an app with GPS location, using a phone and a radio cab office or using a telegram, a carrier pigeon and a chequebook and quill for payment. You don't get to just not be regulated because you're an app-based service.

    I am also getting a bit sick of this 'gig economy' thing. It's piece work / freelance work and it's incredibly bad for society to start dismantling regular employment, deconstructing what it is and turning people over to what are effectively even worse than zero-hour contracts. The cab business has generally always been a bit like that, but I see other online companies pushing it out in other sectors.

    There are tech companies out there who've pioneered entirely new business niches that haven't existed before, but there are plenty that are just shaking up existing markets with an app / website.

    People need to start looking beyond the hype and finding the radical innovators that are really creating new markets.

    1. David 18

      Re: Sense and logic prevails

      @Slx

      "There are tech companies out there who've pioneered entirely new business niches that haven't existed before, but there are plenty that are just shaking up existing markets with an app / website.

      People need to start looking beyond the hype and finding the radical innovators that are really creating new markets."

      Well said that man/woman. Can't upvote you enough!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sense and logic prevails

      "I am also getting a bit sick of this 'gig economy' thing. It's piece work / freelance work and it's incredibly bad for society to start dismantling regular employment, deconstructing what it is and turning people over to what are effectively even worse than zero-hour contracts. The cab business has generally always been a bit like that, but I see other online companies pushing it out in other sectors."

      Well, if you're sick of the gig economy, get rid of the major factor that's driving pay to the basement: overpopulation. The fact employers can easily get another if they don't like you means you have no bargaining power unless you have a uniquely-marketable skill (and given the increased capability of robots, that pool is shrinking). Look back at history. Employees usually only get more sway after a population crash like the Black Death.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sense and logic prevails

        "The fact employers can easily get another if they don't like you means you have no bargaining power unless you have a uniquely-marketable skill "

        Overpopulation may have its downsides but excessive inequality in pay isn't necessariy one of them.

        What uniquely marketable skill do 98%+ of British and US corporate directors have, please?

        Gissa job. I can do that. I can definitely do a senior directors job, maybe I can do lots of them at the same time (assuming I can get used to the pay and conditions).

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/12/15/persimmon-chairman-resigns-pay-row/

        Persimmon's customers and investors are about to pay the CEO, Jeff Fairburn, a

        £100M+ bonus.

        According to Companies House, Mr Fairburn has nearly 300 directorships. Where does he find the time?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unregulated dumpster-fire on wheels

    Uber

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