Mobility company Uber has started shutting operations across Belgium following a court ruling on Wednesday that extended an order initially issued in 2015, that banned its peer-to-peer UberPop service. Uber might be appealing the decision with Belgium’s Supreme Court as the mobility company is currently reviewing the details of the ruling for a loophole.
The court ruling against the company follows a temporary suspension of the company’s services months ago in September in the company’s capital. While Uber had no option other than to comply with the decision, it described the temporary ban as “exceptional and unprecedented”.
This week, private hire vehicle drivers have been blocking a major tunnel in Brussels following Uber’s ruling by the Brussels Appeal Court. A Friday statement by the mobility company’s Country Chief, Laurent Slits, read “This decision was made based on outdated regulations written in a time before smartphones, which the government has promised and failed to reform for the last seven years”. This is not the first time the government has been attacked for not delivering a highly anticipated reform.
As confirmed by Uber, the court ruling only affects drivers with Brussels licenses. Drivers who have licenses from other regions will, however, be able to continue using Uber’s platform. Uber says it is “deeply concerned” about the about 2000 holders of LVC licenses who would lose their ability to use Uber’s platform to “generate earnings” starting today. Unlike in other areas, Uber does not directly employ drivers in Belgium. The company treats them as independent contractors. Since these drivers are not employees of the company, Uber cannot claim that about 2,000 drivers are about to lose their jobs. “We urge the government to move quickly to reform the taxi and LVC sector once and for all so that drivers can continue working to provide for their families”, the Country Chief added.
For now, it is uncertain if Uber will fight the court ruling but it is not impossible that this would likely happen.