Uber Wins Court Ruling Stopping Hamburg From Enforcing Ban

Aug 27, 2014 10:39 am ET

(Updates with Hamburg and Uber comments starting in seventh paragraph.)

Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Uber Technologies Inc., maker of the ride-hailing application that’s being challenged by taxi drivers around the globe, won a bid to halt a municipal agency’s decision to ban the service in the German city of Hamburg.

An administrative court ruled today that the wrong city agency issued the ban and Hamburg can’t enforce the restriction while it reviews a challenge filed by the company, court spokesman Andreas Lambiris said by phone. Another agency at the city has jurisdiction over the matter, he said.

“Because the ban was already illegal for formal reasons, the judges didn’t even look at the question of whether the service Uber is offering is in line with German law,” said Lambiris.

Governments and regulators in cities around the world are restricting Uber’s business on the grounds it poses safety risks and unfairly competes with licensed taxi services. Cabbies with licenses that can cost 200,000 euros ($263,620) apiece have staged protests in European cities including London, Madrid, Paris and Berlin.

Hamburg traffic authorities told San Francisco-based Uber last month to stop operating in the port city, saying that transporting people without a license is against the law.

Helma Krstanoski, a spokeswoman for Hamburg’s department for economy and transportation, said the ruling wasn’t “convincing” and the city will appeal.

Uber said in an e-mailed statement that it was “delighted” with the ruling and will continue to offer its services in the city.

Berlin issued a ban earlier this month and a case over its enforcement is pending at a court in the German capital. The cities of Munich and Dusseldorf are also considering bans. The city authorities say the service is illegal because the drivers offering rides via Uber’s smartphone app need a license for cabs and aren’t properly insured.

--With assistance from Stefan Nicola in Berlin.