German court bans Uber ride-hailing app after challenge by taxi group

A German taxi organisation has won a ruling that may halt the use of ride-hailing service Uber in the country.

Uber drivers do not have the necessary permits to carry passengers under German law, a Frankfurt court said in the emergency ruling, citing evidence provided by Taxi Deutschland.

Governments and regulators in cities around the world are restricting Uber’s business on the grounds it poses safety risks and unfairly competes with licensed taxi services. The Frankfurt case is one of at least four legal actions against the company in the country.

The company will appeal and continue to operate in Germany, one of its fastest growing markets, Uber said.

“We believe innovation and competition is good for everyone, riders and drivers,” it said. “You cannot put the brakes on progress.”

Investors including Goldman Sachs and Google are putting money into the burgeoning market for apps that let users order taxis and cars or share rides using their smartphones. San Francisco-based Uber, which is active in more than 40 countries, raised $1.2bn (€900m) in June, giving it a value of $17bn.

Under the ruling, Taxi Deutschland, a Frankfurt-based association of German cab dispatcher, can ask the court to impose a fine of as much as €250,000 each time Uber violates the ban.

Taxi Deutschland will monitor Uber and will ask the court to impose the sanctions, spokeswoman Anja Floetenmeyer said.

“We’re not afraid of our adversary because the law is on our side,” said Ms Floetenmeyer. “Goldman Sachs and Google can pour as much money in as they want. Even Uber has to abide by the law.”

Hamburg traffic authorities told Uber in July to stop operating in the port city.

Berlin issued a ruling blocking the service in August and a case over its enforcement is pending at an administrative court in the capital. The cities of Munich and Dusseldorf are also considering bans.

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