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Uber Asks Court to Refer Fares Dispute with Drivers to Arbitration

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FILE IMAGE OF TAXIS OUTSIDE NATION CENTRE.

Uber has sent an application to the High Court seeking to have a dispute between the taxi-hailing company and its drivers referred to arbitration. The Kenyan drivers sued Uber Kenya and Uber B.V in 2016 after the company slashed their rates to compete with rival companies.

The drivers sued the Uber, claiming that the move was in violation of their rights. They said the new slashed cut costs were below market rates and would kill their businesses.

In the application sent to the High Court, Uber says that an existing agreement between the company and drivers recommends that any dispute be referred to arbitration.

Read: Former CS Keter Concedes Defeat after Dr. Erick Mutai Clinches UDA Ticket for Kericho Gubernatorial Seat

“I am advised by the 2nd defendant’s (Uber B.V) Advocate on record, which advice I verily believe to be true, that there are no justifiable reasons to warrant a departure from the terms of the agreements,” head of central operations of Uber South Africa Technology Proprietary Ltd Mr Kasigo Khaole, said in an affidavit.

According to Mr. Khaole, both parties entered into the agreement freely after going through the terms, including the dispute resolution clause. He added that the issue would be a waste of the court’s time, yet they already have an agreement that provides for arbitration.

“It is just and equitable to stay these proceedings and have the matter referred to arbitration,” he said.

Read also: Former CS Keter Concedes Defeat after Dr. Erick Mutai Clinches UDA Ticket for Kericho Gubernatorial Seat

The drivers, who include Kanuri Ltd, which operates 17 PSVs, and 33 other drivers, sued the company claiming that it had slashed its costs by over 35 percent and pushed the minimum fare to Sh200, while retaining the commission rates.

According to documents produced in court, the initial agreement between the drivers and Uber provided that customers be charged Sh60 per kilometre with the minimum fare placed at Sh300. Uber would get a 25 percent cut from every ride, with the driver footing all expenses including fuel, airtime, maintenance of the car among others.

Uber argued that the revised rates were in accordance with the agreement.

Read also: Digital Taxi Drivers Take to the Streets After CS Macharia Fails to Gazette Regulations

Last year, Uber Kenya went to court seeking to have its name struck off from the suit in efforts to absolve itself from involvement in the issue.

Uber Kenya argued that the drivers-turned-plaintiffs had entered into contracts with Uber BV, a private LLC registered in Amsterdam and not the Kenyan subsidiary.  As a result, they denied any liability for the breach of contractual obligations.

High court Justice Francis Tuiyott ruled in favour of the drivers, saying that Uber Kenya Ltd, Uber International Holding BV and Uber Internatinal BV have links that cannot be severed and can be jointly sued.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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