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A MAGISTRATE IN MADRID told Uber to “cease operations” in the country after the Madrid Taxi Association (MTA) filed a complaint against the chauffeur and ride-sharing UberPop service.

The judge ordered the company to stop its activities after the MTA raised concerns over the legal status of the Californian-based company.

Support functions to the company, such as credit card charging, were cut off by order of the court and led to customers trying to open an account being greeted with a message saying there was a problem with the internet connection and that they could not use their chosen form of payment.

Uber boss in Spain, Carlos Lloret, announced that the high-tech app firm had closed its operations in the Iberian peninsula and said: “We want to respect the law and we have decided to halt the service.

“UberPop is not there for someone to make a living, but rather to earn some extra cash from time to time.

The decision was taken though without us receiving the judicial order. We had to go and collect it ourselves.”

The court in Madrid heard that Uber started its Pop service in Spain in Barcelona in March 2014 followed by launches in Madrid and Valencia.

The judge was told by barristers, acting on instructions from the Madrid Taxi Association, that Uber drivers did not have the correct licence to operate or insurance to legally transport passengers.

Lloret added: “We consider this rejection to be part of the process of implantation. In San Francisco, where we started out, there were protests at the beginning, until a regulatory framework was created that allowed us to operate normally. And exactly the same thing happened with Airbnb.

“We do concede though that Spain has certain peculiarities. They haven’t welcomed us with open arms and we accept that.

“We are new competition in an environment where you have to pay thousands of euros for a licence, where there are high taxes and the market is closed.

“We will now work to come up with new forms of passenger transport between private citizens that are workable within the current laws.”

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PHC Magazine

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