High Court Ruling gives Drivers Green Light to Sue Uber

Uber drivers in Kenya can breathe a sigh of relief after a high court Justice Francis Tuiyott paved the way for a suit against the company. The judge has ruled that Uber Kenya Ltd, Uber International Holding BV and Uber Internatinal BV have links that cannot be severed and can be jointly sued.

The story dates back to 2016 when 34 Kenyan uber drivers filed a suit against Uber Kenya after they claimed that the company had violated an online contract.According to the online contract, the drivers were expected to transport customers at a minimum of $0.54 per kilometre, with the set minimum fare at $2.71. The agreement also said Uber Kenya would retain 25 percent of the total earnings per profit.

However, Uber Kenya reduced the cost for minimum rate per kilometre to $0.32 and the minimum fare per trip to $1.81. The plaintiffs argue that the change was in breach of contract and left them unable to earn profits as uber drivers.

They were also unable to service their vehicles and maintain them to Uber standards.Uber Kenya however argued that the drivers-turned-plaintiffs had entered into contracts with Uber BV, a private LLC registered in Amsterdam and not the Kenyan subsidiary.  As a result, they denied any liability for the breach of contractual obligations.

This was followed by a long litigation process in the high court as the drivers sought to prove that Uber Kenya and Uber BV are the same company.

Uber BV is an Amsterdam-based firm that owns the rights to the Uber app. Uber Kenya Limited acts as a subsidiary that contracts Uber drivers in Kenya.

Uber BV had argued that it was a separate entity from Uber Kenya Limited but the High Court of Kenya concluded that there was an intricate link between both companies.

Evidence presented af the court also showed that the Uber group of companies shared email addresses and used the same council through their litigation processes in courts.

The High court ruling ends conflicting business domain names that have made it hard to sue Uber group of companies for the last few years.

Uber drivers in Kenya have long complained about the company’s pricing that favours customers but puts them at a loss.

In an explosive interview earlier this year, one driver narrated how the once lucrative job had become a loss making venture that had left many drivers struggling in debt.

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