The legal challenges brought against Uber

by Donna Chisholm / 19 July, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Uber

A taxi driver protest against Uber in Turin, Italy. Photo/Alamy

Uber has been battling a raft of lawsuits around the world.


In February, Uber lost a court challenge against a 2015 Australian Taxation Office decision that forced drivers to be registered to pay goods and services tax. The company argued its drivers didn’t need to be registered because they weren’t taxi operators. However, the court found Uber could be designated as a taxi service. Last year, Northern Territory banned Uber after refusing to change the law to accommodate the app’s legality.

United States

In June 2015, California’s Labour Commission ruled Uber driver Barbara Berwick was an employee and not an independent contractor. The company had argued it did not dictate driver hours and only provided the app to connect drivers and passengers. In 2016, Uber agreed to pay up to US$100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit, allowing it to keep its Californian and Massachusetts drivers as independent contractors. The company pulled out of Austin, Texas, last year after being told to fingerprint and background-check all drivers.


In March 2017, Uber drivers in Ontario launched a class-action lawsuit against the company asking the court to find they are employees, not independent contractors. Ride-share apps are not legal in Vancouver.

United Kingdom

In October 2016, the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled Uber drivers were employees, not contractors, meaning they would qualify for the minimum wage, paid time off and other conditions. In April, Uber was granted the right to appeal.


In June 2016, a French court fined Uber and two of its executives for running an illegal transport service with non-professional drivers in the first such criminal case in Europe. Uber was ordered to pay €800,000, but half the fine was suspended.


In April 2017, a Rome judge ruled in favour of Italy’s major taxi companies, saying Uber services amounted to unfair competition, effectively banning them from operating there.

European Union

In May 2017, the European Union’s Advocate General announced Uber was primarily a transport company, rather than an intermediary between passengers and drivers, and was obliged to hold the same licences and permits as taxi providers.


Uber was bought out by a competitor in September 2016 after sustaining big losses.

South Africa

In 2016, traffic police in Cape Town impounded more than 300 Uber cars because drivers did not have metered taxi permits.

This article was first published in the July 8, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.


Rethinking the Kiwi dream: How New Zealanders live now
104848 2019-04-22 00:00:00Z Property

Rethinking the Kiwi dream: How New Zealanders live…

by Sharon Stephenson

Would you live with your ex? New Zealanders increasingly live alone or find creative ways to house themselves.

Read more
How the Internet of Things revolution could intensify hacking attacks
104871 2019-04-22 00:00:00Z Tech

How the Internet of Things revolution could intens…

by Peter Griffin

A super-connected world comes with an alarming downside.

Read more
The pioneering Kiwi surgeon who heads a world-leading team
104715 2019-04-21 00:00:00Z Profiles

The pioneering Kiwi surgeon who heads a world-lead…

by Clare de Lore

Harvard-based New Zealander Simon Talbot leads a team of surgeons performing astonishing hand transplants and plays a part in operations that...

Read more
Norah Jones’s new beginning and return to New Zealand
104817 2019-04-21 00:00:00Z Music

Norah Jones’s new beginning and return to New Zeal…

by Russell Baillie

The jazz songstress is staying inspired by writing with others.

Read more
Bill Ralston: Only fundamentalist Christians should be hurt by Israel Folau
104814 2019-04-20 00:00:00Z Social issues

Bill Ralston: Only fundamentalist Christians shoul…

by Bill Ralston

Israel Folau’s social-media post might condemn the Wallabies to Rugby World Cup hell, but the rest of us should ignore him.

Read more
What happens next with the Mueller report?
104863 2019-04-20 00:00:00Z World

What happens next with the Mueller report?

by Noted

Did Trump “corrupt” with intent?

Read more
The Heart Dances: Lifting the lid on the culture clash behind ‘The Piano’ ballet
104740 2019-04-20 00:00:00Z Movies

The Heart Dances: Lifting the lid on the culture c…

by Russell Baillie

Documentary offers an intriguing look at the clash of artistic sensibilities behind adapting The Piano into a ballet.

Read more
How this remarkable native insect is being saved
104836 2019-04-20 00:00:00Z Planet

How this remarkable native insect is being saved

by Jenny Nicholls

Principles of bird conservation are helping to save another remarkable native you’ve never heard of.

Read more