Uber's Legal Status Discussed at Yeditepe University

Uber's operations which have been a controversial issue in Turkey since 2015, were examined from an academic and scientific point of view for the first time at Yeditepe University.

Yeditepe University organized a conference labelled "Legal Aspects of Uber and Activities in Turkey" to discuss Uber’s activities from a scientific and academic viewpoint. Uber is a US-based company that operates online urban transportation activities all over the world.

Speaking at a conference organized by Yeditepe University Global Education and Research Center (KEKAM), Yeditepe University Faculty of Law instructor Prof. Dr. Nuray Ekşi said that the issues should be examined through an international private law dimension because Uber’s activities are operated via San Francisco Uber Inc and Uber BV founded in the Netherlands.

It’s not legal for companies founded abroad to be involved in taxi activities

PProf. Dr. Ekşi said that in the United States, the legal regulations on taxis began in 1920, but that these regulations were insufficient to solve the problems of 2009 upon which Uber began to operate in San Francisco. He also talked about Uber-related applications in different countries and the lawsuits filed against Uber. On the issue whether Uber can provide taxi services in Turkey, Prof. Dr. Ekşi made references to some of the decisions taken by the European Court of Justice. Prof. Dr. Nuray Ekşi explained why according to the Road Transport Act and the Road Transport Regulations, companies founded abroad could not be involved in taxi transportation services as well as transportation services operated via mobile applications. Prof. Dr. Nuray Ekşi said “It is clear that Uber can only operate in Turkey unless it is founded in accordance with Turkish law and has taken the required permits. A large number of lawsuits can be filed against Uber for violations of legislation concerning many areas of law in the coming period”

Administrative Fines Are Expected

Özyeğin University Law Faculty instructor Prof. Dr. Özlem Yenerer Çakmut also said that persons who want to be involved in transportation activities in Turkey need to apply for a certificate of authority and then perform their activities. Prof. Dr. Çakmut added that otherwise an illegal activity would be the case; but that there was no crime type specific to this situation, and that the act would be organized as a misdemeanor and be subject to administrative sanctions.  Prof. Dr. Çakmut emphasized that after using the Uber system, there would be serious consequences based on the Turkish Penal Code because of keeping the user’s personal information in Uber’s databases. This kind of saved personal information could be seized by others. She said: 

“In addition to all these cases, any violation of rights by the driver of the vehicle for those who use Uber must be considered as acts that are to be punished, such as fraud, deprivation or libel.”

Competition Law Rules Need to be Obeyed

Kocaeli University Law Faculty Assist. Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Eroğlu evaluated Uber's activities in terms of the Turkish Commercial Code and Competition Law. Stating that Uber and similar platforms, which bring together a large number of small participants offering goods and services together with the centralization of the Internet at the center of commercial life, also cause significant problems in terms of competition law, Dr. Eroğlu said:

“There are exemplary judicial decisions that Uber's activities are considered to be disruptive to honest competition in different countries around the world. In terms of Turkish law, Uber's activities should be considered as unfair competition in the light of the decisions of the Supreme Court in accordance with the relevant articles of the Turkish Commercial Code. Uber is covered by the Law on the Protection of Competition and the Competition Authority has the authority to conduct investigations and sanctions on Uber. Uber's many activities may be contrary to the Competition Law and the Competition Authority is expected to receive complaints about Uber.”