Judge orders Uber to cease all operations in Spain

Precautionary measure comes ahead of court case to be filed by Madrid Taxi Association

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A protest by Madrid taxi drivers against Uber in July.

A judge ordered US-based ride-sharing and taxi service Uber to cease all activities in Spain on Tuesday.

The online application is used to put passengers in touch with private drivers.

Since its arrival in Spain, the company has been the target of a series of protests by taxi associations, who consider it to be unfair competition.

In a writ dated this Tuesday, a judge from a mercantile court in Madrid decided to accept the cautionary measures proposed by the Madrid Taxi Association ahead of a future court case the organization is planning on filing against Uber.

The judge accepted the measure given that drivers offering their services through Uber have no official authorization to do so, thus constituting unfair competition for licensed taxi drivers.

Uber puts passengers and drivers – who have no license or insurance for the activity – in touch, and keeps a percentage of the fare calculated by the online application.

Madrid was the second Spanish city in which the US company began operating, after Barcelona (April) and ahead of Valencia (October).

Taxi drivers accuse the firm of intruding in the sector, and have filed complaints and held a number of demonstrations and strikes in recent months. The Catalan government is planning next year to immobilize any vehicles operating as taxis on an irregular basis, and levy fines of up to €6,000 on drivers, according to draft legislation.

The precautionary measure was taken by the judge without hearing the arguments of Uber, given that the company is based in the US tax haven of Delaware. The judge’s writ also instructs telecommunications and electronic-payment firms to stop processing transactions for Uber in Spain, as well as no longer hosting its software and applications.

The writ adds that the measures will be executed once the association of taxi drivers posts a bank guarantee of €10,000 within the next three days.