US ride-hailing app Uber has taken a fresh legal blow, losing a court case against France at the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

France can now take action against Uber local managers for employing unlicensed drivers in its UberPop service in the country, according to the ECJ ruling.

UberPop has been suspended in France since 2015 and this ruling does not affect Uber’s wider operations in the country.

The ECJ said in a statement:

Member states may prohibit and punish, as a matter of criminal law, the illegal exercise of transport activities in the context of the UberPop service, without notifying the Commission in advance of the draft legislation.

The ECJ said the French government was within its rights to pass a 2014 law banning some transport services without first notifying the European Commission.

Having been classified as a transport service in a previous ruling, Uber does not enjoy the same protections against national regulation that other digital services have under EU law.

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However, at the trial, Uber argued that France should have sought Brussels’ consent before enacting a new taxi law that said only official taxis are allowed to use location technology to operate.

As France failed to do so, Uber claimed that criminal charges against two of its managers should be dropped.

A spokeswoman told Reuters:

This case is about whether a French law from 2014 should have been pre-notified to the European Commission and related to peer-to-peer services which we stopped in 2015.

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As our new CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe.

Since Uber launched in Europe in 2011, the San Francisco-based app has caused chaos for traditional taxi companies across the continent work, sparking protests with local authorities that have often turned violent.

Despite suspending its services in certain areas in order to support local legislation, Uber has recently been forced out of Denmark and Hungary.

The company faced just another backlash last year when London declared it to be unfit to operate and suspended its license, though Uber is currently appealing to revoke this decision and continues to operate while the appeals process is ongoing.

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