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Hamburg Court: Uber “Probably Illegal”

Uber’s cab-hailing service is “probably illegal” in Hamburg, Germany, an administrative court there said on Wednesday (Aug. 27), according to the Wall Street Journal.

But the court also ruled that Uber can continue operating in Germany’s second-largest city for the time being. In July, the city’s economics department issued a ban on Uber, saying the company was not complying with federal passenger transportation laws. The administrative court overturned that ban, saying that the economics department had no authority to issue it; a ban would have to come from Hamburg’s district authorities.

Hamburg’s economics department will appeal the decision, a city spokeswoman said.

Germany’s taxi regulations require drivers to obtain a specialist license and adhere to a set fare structure. Uber’s drivers “probably act illegally…because they presumably offer passenger transportation without a license,” and Uber is likely involved in this illicit activity, the Hamburg court ruled.

The court’s ruling comes as Uber is expanding in Germany, launching in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Hamburg in recent weeks following launches in Berlin and Munich last year, with plans to expand into Cologne, Stuttgart and other cities. But Berlin and Hamburg have prohibited the service, though neither city has enforced its ban, pending Uber’s legal appeals.

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