Spanish judge orders temporary shutdown of Uber, says service offers unfair competition

MADRID – A judge on Tuesday ordered the temporary suspension of ridesharing service Uber in Spain, saying it represents unfair competition.

The Madrid mercantile court judge said in a preliminary ruling that Uber drivers lacked proper permits to transport passengers in Spain — but the company responded that it wasn’t given an opportunity to argue its case.

The suspension was sought by Madrid’s Taxi Association, which is planning legal action against Uber.

Uber spokesman Benjamin Novick called the decision a “highly unusual court commercial proceeding and ruling,” adding that the company is considering its legal options and that Uber will obey Spain law.

Uber allows passengers to hail a ride from a mobile app. The company takes a cut from what the drivers charge.

Taxi drivers claim such services are unfair because drivers aren’t subject to the same taxi regulations and don’t pay tens of thousands of euros (dollars) for training and licenses.

The San Francisco-based company has been met with opposition in several European Union countries.