Calgary judge grants temporary injunction against Uber
Uber agrees to suspend service 6 a.m. Nov. 21
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In the eyes of the city Uber is off the road – for now.
As of 4:30 p.m. Friday all Uber drivers are expected to stop offering rides for cash in the city of Calgary as ordered by a court injunction, and Uber says they'll cease operations for the interim beginning Saturday morning.
"We're obviously pleased," said Colleen Sinclair, lawyer for the City of Calgary.
The city has sought and successfully been granted an interim injunction against Uber drivers while lawyers gather evidence for a full hearing next month. Those believed to still be in breach of the bylaw may be served with a notice forcing them to appear in front of the court to explain why they should not be held in contempt.
The city did pave the way for Uber to enter the market earlier this month, pending a provincial decision on insurance for those offering private, for-hire ride services.
However, in this case, Justice GH Poelman found through the city's submitted evidence that drivers using Uber's app to connect with riders were in direct contravention of the city's livery bylaws, which state you cannot offer to carry passengers for a fee.
"One of the terms of the order is that we're supposed to serve copies on anybody we become aware is driving," said Sinclair. "Our expectation, however, is that because the court has proclaimed this order this afternoon that people will stop driving."
Sinclair added drivers who breach the order – if proven by the city – can be brought back to court and be held in contempt, made to pay fines or even be jailed. But only if the city establishes a breach of the order.
The city will continue to enforce the livery bylaw, but hope this court order will cut down on the illegal ridesharing service.
Christian Popowich, representing the Uber drivers, offered no comment to reporters after the judge's decision, however Uber did provide a statement after the court proceedings.
"We are deeply disappointed by today’s ruling from the Alberta court against Calgary drivers. We will suspend our operations effective 6:00 AM tomorrow, Saturday, November 21," said Ramit Kar, Uber General Manager for Alberta, in a prepared release.
"This is a sad day for hardworking Calgarians and we are in active discussions with the City so that affordable and reliable rides are available again soon."
In the past other jurisdictions like Toronto and Edmonton have pursued injunctions against the ridesharing company itself, but this particular case named drivers in contravention to the bylaw. This means Uber is not under any sort of injunction as a company and as such isn't required to shut down its application.
Currently Uber's app is still running, and to test if drivers are still picking up, a Metro reporter requested numerous rides – all of which were accepted. That's expected to end come Saturday.
The next hearing will be held Dec. 17 to determine whether or not the city will be granted a permanent injunction against drivers using the Uber platform to offer vehicles for hire — an act that contravenes city bylaw.