Danish supreme court upholds fines given to Uber drivers

The Danish supreme court Højesteret has upheld fines totalling 700,000 kroner (94,000 euros) given to four men for operating illegal taxi services as Uber drivers in 2015.

Danish supreme court upholds fines given to Uber drivers
File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

The four drivers will therefore be required to pay respective fines of 486,500 kroner, 110,000 kroner, 60,000 kroner and 40,000 kroner.

Special prosecutor Anne Risager expressed her satisfaction with the outcome.

“It was important to make a statement about the cost of breaking taxi laws to such a large extent as seen here,” Risager said.

The size of the fines equates to the earnings made by the four drivers from transporting paying passengers in private vehicles using the Uber app.

The ride-sharing service announced its withdrawal from Denmark in March 2017, having launched operations in the country in 2014.

Although a prosecution request to increase the fines by 20 percent of drivers’ earnings was rejected by the court, Risager said the result was satisfactory.

“The most important thing for us was that they did not make earnings through breaking taxi laws. The fines are at a level that made this unprofitable,” she said.

Defence lawyer Poul Helmuth Petersen said he was disappointed on his clients’ behalf but gave no further comment.

An unnamed spokesperson with Uber also expressed disappointment at the decision in a written comment.

The cases against the four men are test cases, given that the court was required to make judgements based on Dutch tax records. Uber’s European head office is in the Netherlands, and the Dutch evidence was therefore the first of its kind to be used in a Danish case.

The finding of the supreme court that the material was passable sets a precedent for up to 1,500 new cases against former Uber drivers whose details were handed over to Danish police voluntarily by Uber’s Dutch office.

That information includes names, bank details, addresses and earnings of drivers who used the app for work.

According to Danish tax authority Skat, 2,134 Uber drivers collected 56 million kroner in Denmark in 2015.

Police have also awaited the outcome of the case in order to commence prosecution of Uber itself for participation in providing illegal taxi services in Denmark.

The four drivers had sought acquittal, with their lawyers arguing against the use of tax records as evidence.

READ ALSO: Uber wants to return to Denmark after admitting past mistakes


Uber wants to return to Denmark after admitting past mistakes

Ride sharing app Uber says it wants to return to the Danish market after leaving in 2017 following protests against the company.

Uber wants to return to Denmark after admitting past mistakes
File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

In an interview with newspaper Berlingske, the company’s Scandinavia spokesperson Kristian Agerbo said the company intends to roll back on to Danish roads.

“We are working on coming back to Denmark. But when that happens, it will be in the right way. The model will be different this time,” Agerbo told the newspaper.

The company, which was founded in San Francisco in 2010, originally entered the Danish market in Copenhagen in 2014 and had 2,000 drivers at its peak.

But complaints to police, protests and court cases plagued the ride sharing firm, which eventually withdrew from Denmark in early 2017.

“We are a company that wants to offer technology and benefit many people,” Agerbo told Berlingske.

“But there was [during the company’s previous operations in Denmark] a one-eyed focus on the benefits of the technology for users and drivers without enough consideration for the rest of society and the political climate. That was the wrong way to do things,” he continued.

Uber drivers were given fines in district and high courts in Denmark in 2016 for breaking taxi laws.

Agerbo said that Uber is now working on agreements with Danish authorities as well as the taxi industry.

Eight years after its founding, the company now has 18,000 full-time employees worldwide, 75 million registered users, three million drivers and cars in over 600 cities in 75 countries.

Agerbo was unable to put a date on the firm’s potential return to Denmark.

READ ALSO: Man takes taxi from Copenhagen to Oslo, runs from fare