France's highest court today upheld a law that bans Uber's low-cost car-hailing service, UberPop, nearly three months after taxi unions staged nationwide protests against the service. The decision marks another setback for Uber, which has faced regulatory hurdles in several countries as it continues to expand. It also comes nearly a week before two Uber France executives are due to stand trial for deceptive business practices and other charges based on the law upheld today.
The law in question, passed late last year, states that only taxi services and certified chauffeurs can operate systems that put clients in touch with drivers. Uber had contested the constitutionality of the law, arguing that it was unfairly broad and that it limited competition. Unlike Uber's other services, UberPop connected users with non-professional drivers.
UberPop sparked violent protests from taxi unions in June
The Constitutional Court soundly rejected Uber's appeal in a decision handed down late Tuesday, saying that the law conformed to the constitution. In June, taxi unions staged massive, and at times violent strikes across major French cities in protest against UberPop, which they saw as unfair competition. Because UberPop drivers were not professional chauffeurs, they did not have to purchase the expensive licenses and insurance that other taxi drivers are obliged to carry.
Uber suspended UberPop in France following the protests, in an effort to ease heightened tensions with the French government. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber's general manager for Western Europe, and Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal were later arrested on charges related to UberPop. They are due to stand trial at the end of September.
In an email statement, Uber France described the decision as "disappointing" for Uber and other ride-sharing companies, adding that it will not have an effect on its other services, which are carried out by professional drivers.
"We will continue to work with the French government on new, common sense regulations that offer rides more affordable, reliable options and drivers new job opportunities," the company said.