The Taipei High Administrative Court ruled in favor of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) in a lawsuit against drivers for the taxi app service Uber, the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) said yesterday.
The ruling was handed down earlier this month before the Lunar New Year holiday.
The DGH said it began cracking down on illegal taxi services provided by Uber Taiwan as well as the drivers hired by the company in September 2014, adding that both the company and its drivers were fined for breaking the law.
Uber sought to appeal the fines at 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.
The court in November last year overruled the penalties against the company, saying that some of the tickets given by the DGH to Uber did not indicate the location and time that it had allegedly conducted business illegally.
However, the same court favored the ministry in a case against Uber drivers, saying the drivers had violated the Highway Act (公路法) and Transportation Management Regulations (汽車運輸業管理規則).
DGH Motor Vehicles Division Deputy Chief Liang Kuo-kuo (梁郭國) said the judge in the case against Uber considered the procedures the ministry had adopted as essential in issuing a verdict, whereas the judge presiding over the case against Uber drivers did not share the same legal opinion and ruled that the drivers had infringed government regulations.
Liang said the court’s decision to side with the ministry against Uber drivers showed that the court considered what the drivers did was illegal and issued a clear verdict, which is more 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 said.
Liang said that the judge in the case against the company simply overruled the penalties issued to Uber because of flaws in the procedures taken by the DGH, adding that he did not say that the penalties were issued illegally.
Fearing the Supreme Administrative Court might overrule the penalties against the company again, the DGH said that it had re-issued all the tickets to Uber with more detailed expositions about their violations. As such, the company would have to restart its administrative appeal with the ministry’s appeal committee, the DGH said.
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.
As of Monday, Uber had been fined NT$36.5 million (US$1.09 million) for 268 recorded violations. Drivers recruited by Uber have accumulated fines of more than NT$11.75 million.
Uber and its drivers have paid NT$31.25 million and NT$11.5 million in fines respectively.
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