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ECJ rules France may proceed with criminal charges against Uber executives

[JURIST] The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] on Tuesday ruled [judgment] that the French government may proceed with a case in which local Uber managers are facing criminal charges for running an illegal taxicab service.

In 2014, the French government passed a law [Loi No.2014-1104 text, in French] prohibiting taxi services from using unlicensed drivers when carrying fewer than 10 passengers. The law, in essence, banned Uber within the country. Uber responded by arguing that Uber is a "digital service" under the terms of Directive 98/34/EC [text], and thus that France was required to seek the European Commission's [offical website] approval so as to ensure that no single market in the EU is disproportionately impacted. ECJ. As France did not seek the Commission's approval, Uber argued [application] that the law and, by extension the criminal charges against Uber executives [JURIST report], were invalid. Advocate General Maciej Szpunar [official profile] has disagreed [JURIST report], declaring last July that no such notification is needed.

The ECJ found that France did not need to notify the Commission because the French law regulates "service in the field of transport," not "digital service," and is therefore excluded from the notification requirement. The court reasoned that because Uber has been previously classified as a transportation service [JURIST report] under EU law, they had to abide by transportation regulations. Accordingly, the criminal charges were found to be valid.

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