Compiled and translated by Bing-sheng Lee and Yuan Ling-Liang
CNA reports, according to the Directorate General of Highways (DGH), Uber has been fined NT$51.3 million (approximately US$1.5 million) since September 2014, when the government first ruled Uber illegal. The number is still increasing.
The DGH tells the press that some drivers considering to join Uber called to ask about the new law and said that it decreased their willingness.
However, Uber insists that its business is all about “sharing economy.” Uber has never delayed paying its fines and that they even pay their drivers’ personal fines to support them.
(4/26/2016 update ends)
On March 21, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) announced that the regulation regarding Uber has been amended. In the future, if a personal vehicle is caught twice in a month operating under Uber, it will be fined NT$100,000 (approximately US$3,000) and the license plate will be revoked. Liberty Times reports, if a driver violates the regulation more than three times, the fine can reach over NT$150,000(approximately US$4,631).
According to calculations of the MOTC, there have been 276 cases regarding Uber’s illegal operation in Taiwan up to March 21, and the fine adds up to NT$37.7 million (approximately US$11.6 million).
(3/21/2016 update ends)
The Taipei High Administrative Court has ruled that Uber, an APP providing a cab-calling service and one of Silicon Valley’s most successful startups, is illegal under Taiwan’s law. The ruling was handed down earlier this month.
Taipei Times reports, the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) has begun cracking down on illegal taxi services provided by Uber Taiwan as well as the drivers hired by the company in September 2014. Both the company and its drivers have been fined for breaking the law.
The DGH thinks that Uber and its drivers are not sanctioned to run the transportation service. According to the Highway Act, Uber has been fined NT$100,000 (approximately US$3,070) to NT$150,000 (approximately US$4,605). Uber drivers have been fined NT$50,000 (approximately US$1,535).
Uber sought to appeal the fines to the ministry’s appeal committee, but the committee upheld the penalties issued by the highway authority. The company subsequently tried to invalidate the fines for itself and its drivers by filing two separate administrative lawsuits last year.
In November last year, the court overruled the penalties against the company, saying that some of the tickets issued by the DGH to Uber did not indicate the location and time that it had allegedly conducted business illegally.
The DGH appealed against the ruling to the High Administrative Court and this time the court ruled in favor of the DGH. The court considers Uber’s operation illegal due to the facts that the company hires drivers who do not have registered vehicles for commercial use and that its main goal is to create a platform that allows unregistered vehicles to take passengers and charge for the service.
The court thinks that the registered services of Uber include management consultancy, data processing, electronic information supply and third-party payment, but does not include auto-transportation.
DGH Motor Vehicles Division Deputy Chief Liang Kuo-kuo says that the court’s decision to side with the ministry against Uber drivers shows that the court considers what the drivers do to be illegal and has issued a clear verdict, which is likely to set a precedent for ensuing lawsuits.
Uber has notified the Supreme Administrative Court that it plans to appeal the High Administrative Court’s ruling, Liang says.
Taipei Times reports, the Supreme Administrative Court might overrule the penalties against the company again. The DGH says that it has re-issued all the tickets to Uber with more detailed expositions about their violations. According to the DGH, the company would have to restart its administrative appeal with the ministry’s appeal committee.
The ministry is also seeking to set stricter punishments for Uber drivers. Currently, the ministry can only revoke a driver’s license if they are found to have violated the law five times.
Uber Facing Legal Issues all over the World
Uber’s business model and service has been widely considered controversial, raising questions about its legality in many regions.
Although it is worth US$40 billion, Uber has also paid a huge amount of money on solving legal problems and lawsuits filed by administrations of many other countries.
The Business Insider reports, some countries and regions have completely banned the service, finding it illegal under national or state laws. These places include Japan, Thailand, Nevada in the United States and Karnataka in India.
Other nations and cities, like South Korea, have chosen to delay their decisions on Uber, asking the service to suspend operations until they can pass Uber-specific legislations and regulations.
In some cases, Uber has independently chosen to suspended operations in response to growing pressure from local communities and municipalities like in Panama City Beach, Florida. In other places, Uber continues to operate in the face of this pressure. In Cape Town, South Africa, for example, traffic police impounded 34 Uber vehicles for operating illegally.
There are also cases in which legal loopholes have allowed the company to continue its operations. For example, Uber plans to purchase commercial licenses for its drivers in Germany, where ride-sharing services are banned from operating without taxi licenses.
Edited by Olivia Yang
“Court rules in favor of MOTC” (Taipei Times)
“Uber Suspension in Taiwan Cancelled; MOTC to Keep Appealing” (TNL)
“Government Promoting Pre-Booking Taxis to Challenge Uber Taiwan” (TNL)
“Here’s everywhere Uber is banned around the world” (Business Insider)