In Brief

Germany bans Uber taxi service – app vows to continue

The smartphone-based network says it will defy the court and keep trading despite threat of fines

A German court has banned one of the most popular services provided by Uber, the controversial cab-hailing app, in the biggest legal setback the business has faced since it was founded five years ago.

In Frankfurt, a state court ruled that the company's "low-cost" UberPop service could no longer accept passengers and that Uber would face fines if it continued.

UberPop allows users of the Uber smartphone app to connect and arrange lifts with private drivers, often at prices far lower than those charged by taxis and other vehicles available on through the service.

The court ruled that the ban would remain in place until later in the year when it had assessed whether the service unfairly competes with local taxis.

An Uber spokesperson said that the company would appeal against the court's decision and vowed to defy the ban.

"Germany is one of the fastest growing markets for Uber in Europe," he said. "We will continue to operate in Germany and will appeal the recent lawsuit filed by Taxi Deutschland in Frankfurt. You cannot put the brakes on progress. Uber will continue its operations and will offer UberPop ridesharing services via its app throughout Germany."

The case against Uber was brought to court by the German taxi company TDS, which offers a similar service to Uberpop, The Guardian reports. TDS spokeswoman Anja Floetenmeyer said that she welcomed the ban.

"We are very happy with the decision," she said. "The law says there are safety regulations for drivers and safety regulations for users, and these also apply to neo-liberal firms like Uber."

TDS chairman Dieter Schlenker said: "Uber operates with billions in cash from Goldman Sachs and Google, wraps itself in a start-up look and sells itself as a new economy saviour."

After Uber promised to flout the ban, Floetenmeyer called on the court to enforce the relevant fines. "If you get into a car, you are legally in the hands of the driver with your life and your personal health and safety," she said. "And the driver has to play by the German rules."

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