June 26, 2015 / 8:46 AM / 5 years ago

French government files legal complaint against UberPOP

French taxi drivers, who are on strike, block the traffic on the Paris ring road during a national protest against car-sharing service Uber, in Paris, France, June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Friday he had launched legal action targeting local managers of U.S.-based ride-sharing service Uber, denouncing the attitude of the company as “cynical” and “arrogant”.

France already ordered a nationwide clampdown on its UberPOP mobile app-based service on Thursday, siding with taxi drivers who blockaded major transport hubs in protests against the service.

Faced with the threat of renewed disruption, even President Francois Hollande weighed in, calling from the sidelines of a late-night European Union summit in Brussels for the dissolution of UberPOP’s activities in France.

“We are in a state of law and the law will rule,” Cazeneuve told RTL radio.

A law from October 2014 placed a ban on putting clients in touch with unregistered drivers. However Uber contests the rule, saying it is unclear and counter to the freedom to do business. A constitutional ruling is expected around September.

On Thursday Cazeneuve ordered Paris police to issue a decree banning UberPOP and said cars defying the order would be seized. Uber France general manager Thibaud Simphal retorted by saying the measures “changed nothing” and that demand for its services in France would continue.

“The complaint I filed yesterday is wide enough to cover the statements of UberPOP managers,” Cazeneuve told RTL, adding that inciting people to defy the ban was “a criminal offence”.

An Uber spokesman on Thursday accused the French government of seeking to interfere in the course of justice.

UberPOP links drivers of private cars with potential passengers at cheaper rates than conventional cabs and has already come under political and legal scrutiny in France.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Mark John and Alison Williams

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