Spain’s taxi drivers take legal action in bid to block rival service Cabify

Spanish taxi drivers are calling for a "precautionary" suspension of one of Spain’s most successful new startups, days after it secured a multi-million euro funding.

Spain's taxi drivers take legal action in bid to block rival service Cabify
Photo: Cabify

Car sharing app Uber has already been banned in Spain and now taxi drivers are going after a company closer to home, burgeoning Spanish startup Cabify.

The Professional Federation of Taxi Drivers has filed a complaint against the startup, asking a Spanish court to suspend the company, which offers a taxi-booking service via an online app. 

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Cabify only last week secured funding from Japanese fund Rakuten to expand its operations in Spain and Latin America.

Speaking to The Local at the time, Juan de Antonio, founder and chief executive of Cabify said: “We have fine-tuned our business model to thrive and win, avoiding a race to the bottom in an industry where anti-competitive practices continue to be too common… Now it’s time to turn on the gas.”

But the star of the Spanish startup world could be in for a bumpy road ahead, as it faces the hearing, scheduled for November 4th in Madrid.

Taxi drivers have requested that Cabify be suspended or failing that, that the company be allowed to operate only from cities in which it has a registered office.

They are also calling for any advertising comparing Cabify’s service and prices with that of regular taxis to be banned.

In a statement to The Local, Cabify said: 

“Cabify has always operated under the existing legal framework, working closely with regulators and authorities to adapt its service to the law and ensure fair competition.

The company, unlike other companies that are part of the “sharing economy” has all the necessary licenses and authorization to provide this service.” 

Perhaps alluding to fellow car-sharing app, Uber, which has been banned in Spain, Cabify told The Local that “those kinds of companies have been labelled part of the 'sharing economy' have nothing to do with Cabify”. 

Cabify told The Local it was preparing its defence lawyers for the case and in the mean time the service would “carry on as normal and without interruptions”. 

The high-end car service launched in Spain in 2011 and has so-far managed to avoid the legal woes of its rivals, Uber and Bla Bla Car by only operating in cities where it can obtain a regular taxi license.

Cabify’s apps allow users to order a chauffeur-driven car for immediate use or advanced booking, with payments taken via credit card or PayPal.

The journey priced is fixed at the time of the booking, and vehicle types on offer to users include Executive (Mercedes Class E or Audi A6), Luxury (Mercedes Class S) and Group (Mercedes Viano minivans).

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