A French criminal court has finally reached a verdict in a long-running case against Uber that accused the company of running an illegal transportation service.
A court in Paris has ruled that Uber must pay an €800,000 fine ($900,000), though half of that is suspended, pending Uber’s future conduct.
Reports in the buildup to the case suggested that local taxi unions were requesting $110 million in damages, while two Uber executives were facing jail or a nationwide ban on managing any company for five years. But that won’t be the case: Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager for Western Europe, was fined €30,000 ($34,000), while Thibaud Simphal, Uber’s general manager for France, was handed a €20,000 ($22,000) fine — again, half of these fines were suspended.
Though Uber has faced the wrath of local legislators and taxi industries in many markets, France emerged as one of the hottest battlegrounds last summer when taxi drivers staged a nationwide strike that disrupted travel across the country, with violence permeating many of the protests. Uber finally announced that it would cease its controversial UberPop service in France. This service effectively lets anyone with their own vehicle become a taxi driver, with no real licensing required.
Adding further controversy to the mix, two local Uber executives were taken into custody and told they would stand trial in September, though the trial was delayed until February of this year. Gore-Coty and Simphal faced charges based on carrying out “deceptive commercial practices,” permitting “illegal taxi services,” and “illicit storage of personal data.” Though they have been found guilty and fined, they have been spared jail time and can continue to work.
Uber has already ceased operating its UberPop service in many other European markets. The company was forced out of Madrid back in 2014, following pressure and protests from local taxi groups, but relaunched there earlier this year with a vow to only use professional, licensed drivers through UberX. It was a similar story in Moscow, where Uber received an official greenlight this year after agreeing to limit its service to registered drivers. Uber continues to operate in France using professional drivers, and the company hasn’t revealed any plans to reinstate UberPop.
Uber isn’t the only U.S. company in France’s crosshairs; the country is currently battling Google over its right-to-be-forgotten ruling. France argues that the internet giant’s efforts to hide old or irrelevant information on its search engine don’t go far enough — Google disagrees and is taking its complaint all the way to France’s highest court.