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EU: ECJ sides with Airbnb against France

 |  May 1, 2019

The European Union’s highest court has rejected a case filed by hotels against Airbnbarguing that the home rental site should be subject to the same strict rules governing French estate agents. Airbnb has denied acting as a real estate agent, and the court agreed.

An adviser for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a non-binding opinion on Tuesday April 30 saying that Airbnb should be treated as a digital service provider and a member state cannot restrict its free movement.

In 2017, the hotel industry lobby group AhTop filed a complaint, arguing that Airbnb violated a French law regulating the activities of real estate agents. A Paris prosecutor agreed and charged the company.

Airbnb denied acting as a real estate agent and said the law is incompatible with an EU directive on “information society services”. So an investigating judge then asked the ECJ in Luxembourg to give a ruling on how to interpret the law.

And the ECJ Advocate General, Maciej Szupunar, agreed with Airbnb and said “a service such as that provided by the Airbnb portal constitutes an information society service,” and that France, by restricting an information society service in another member state (Ireland, where Airbnb has its European headquarters), violated the EU directive.