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Helsinki Uber driver ordered to pay state 12,000 euros

The Helsinki District Court has found a 23 year-old man guilty of illegally operating as a taxi driver in Helsinki. The man, who worked for three and a half months as a driver with the ride-sharing service Uber, received a 25-day fine amounting to 150 euros and was also ordered to surrender his ill-gotten gains – estimated at 12,000 euros - to the state.

Uber-taksi tilataan älypuhelimen sovelluksen avulla. Yhtiön Tukholmassa käyttämät autot ovat tavallisia rekisteröityjä takseja.
Taxis used by Uber in Stockholm are regular registered taxis. Image: Yle

A 23 year-old man who worked as a taxi driver for the ride-sharing service Uber was found guilty by the Helsinki District Court Tuesday of illegally plying the trade.

The court sentenced the man, who had worked as a taxi driver for three and a half months, to pay fines amounting to 150 euros. He was also ordered to hand over 12,250 euros to the state, which the court estimated as his gross earnings during the period.

The court found that the man had operated the taxi service without the required authorization between May and August last month.

Prosecutor "satisfied" with verdict

Helsinki district prosecutor Jutta Juntunen said that according to the information she had, it was the first judgment in Finland involving an Uber provider.

"There was no precedent for this case. It was difficult to say what the outcome would be," she noted.

"I had called for a 25-day fine. As a prosecutor I am satisfied with the court’s ruling," she added.

When asked what the judgment meant, Juntunen said it was difficult to tell.

"This is a question of one isolated case. The future will surely tell what will happen next," she remarked.

No formal Uber training

According to the court, the man said that he had worked as a taxi driver in Uber’s service. He became a driver after visiting the company’s office.

Uber staff had indicated that no special permit would be required to become an Uber driver, the court found.

The accused had not received any special training from Uber but had attended a basic taxi drivers’ course, which he failed.

The accused worked as an Uber driver for five to six days a week and was allowed to keep 80 percent of his earnings.

Court: Accused acted as a professional

The court found that working as an Uber driver constituted a form of salaried work. The man did not know his fares in advance and acted in a professional capacity.

The court deemed that the accused was guilty of operating as a taxi driver without the necessary permits.

The accused denied the charges and argued that his actions should not have been considered the professional provision of taxi transportation services according to the Taxi Transport Act, and therefore punishable.

The court noted however that the ruling is not yet legally binding. The court handed down the decision on Tuesday. It was widely reported by news outlets such as Uusi Suomi, Iltalehti and STT on Thursday.

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