An Uber spokesperson told The Local that the app would continue to operate in Denmark. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters/Scanpix
The Danish Prosecution Service (Anklagemyndigheden) and the Copenhagen Police announced on Friday that charges have been filed against Uber BV, the Dutch company behind the Uber app. The company is being charged with abetting drivers’ illegal taxi service.
“It has now been established that the drivers have operated in violation of the taxi laws. Therefore we have filed charges against the company for contributing to these law violations,” Vibeke Thorkil-Jensen, the head of public prosecutions, said in a press release.
“This is a principle case in which the Prosecution Service wants to get the court’s decision on responsibility for the illegal taxi service,” she added.
The prosecutors’ move was widely expected following the recent decision by the Eastern High Court that a 28-year-old male Uber driver had provided an illegal taxi service. That decision upheld an earlier ruling by the Copenhagen City Court, which found six Uber drivers guilty on the basis that Uber's profit motive means it is not a true ridesharing programme but instead is akin to an illegal taxi service.
The 28-year-old was the first to appeal the city court’s ruling but the Easter High Court decision was expected to pave the way for cases against upwards of 50 Uber drivers in Denmark.
Uber has proven popular with Danish users but has been met with resistance from the authorities since its Denmark debut in November 2014.
The company was reported to the police by the Danish Transit Authority within hours of its launch and traditional taxi drivers then waited in dismay for over a year before any legal charges were formally taken up by the Danish court system.
An Uber spokesman told The Local that the company was not surprised by the new development but called the Danish Prosecution Service’s decision to file charges “unfortunate”.
“We welcome the opportunity to clarify our legal position to the prosecutor. The Uber app will continue to be available in Denmark while this process is ongoing, helping create opportunities for 2,000 drivers and their families in Copenhagen. More than 300,000 Danes have signed up to rideshare with Uber so it is encouraging that the government intends to modernise regulations, something that’s urgently needed for the benefit of citizens,” Gareth Mead, Uber's head of communications for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said.
The Danish government has signalled that it will modernize the legislation in the taxi branch, which is one of the most thoroughly-regulated industries in Denmark.