Hengeler wins reprieve for Uber in German battle over taxi app

Hengeler Mueller has won a victory for ‘sharing economy’ taxi service Uber in a battle over whether the company can continue offering its product in the city of Hamburg.

The German firm is advising Uber across the country as the company seeks to roll out its smartphone app into all major cities. The app enables private individuals to offer transport in their own car and potential users to reserve rides.

Earlier this month the Hamburg authorities issued a cease-and-desist order against Uber and its app ’UberPOP’ which was temporarily suspended pending a hearing in the city’s administrative court.

Yesterday (27 August) the court ruled that Uber could continue providing its services, deciding that the Hamburg traffic authorities were not the responsible authority and that the prohibition order could not be based on the Passenger Transportation Act.

A ruling by the administrative court in Berlin is expected soon over the use of both UberPOP and UberBlack, a similar app for limousines.

Hengeler partner Dirk Uwer is leading the firm’s advice to Uber. Fellow litigation partner Markus Meier, corporate partner Frank Burmeister and finance partner Christian Schmies are also advising the company as it rolls out its service across Germany.

Other cities Uber is operating in include Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.

Uwer said the firm had picked up the work through its network of ‘Best Friends’. Uber’s European headquarters is in Amsterdam, where the company is instructing De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the Dutch member firm of the network led by Slaughter and May in the UK.

Slaughters is among several firms understood to have advised Uber in the UK. The company is facing litigation in the High Court, with Transport for London (TfL) having issued letters before claim against Uber, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) and the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) over a row about London taxi meters (14 June 2014).

Black cab operators staged a protest earlier this summer over Uber. They claim that the app functions as a taxi meter and is therefore contravening rules on licensed vehicles.