A regional court in Germany frustrated Uber Technologies’ efforts to mount a comeback in the country, adding to regulatory pressure on the company.
BERLIN-—A regional court in Germany frustrated Uber Technologies Inc. UBER -0.46% ’s efforts to mount a comeback in the country, adding to regulatory pressure on the ride-hailing company, particularly in Europe.
Thursday’s ruling by a regional court in Frankfurt marks a fresh setback for the San Francisco-based transportation company, which is trying to repair its reputation among regulators after expanding rapidly and challenging local transport laws where it operated.
Among the countries that have been the most resistant to Uber is Germany, where the company had been experimenting with ways to overcome a nationwide ban imposed in 2015.
In recent years, Uber has reintroduced ride-hailing services in some German cities by effectively acting as an intermediary between its users and professional car-hire companies or existing taxi fleets instead of its own network of independent drivers.
On Thursday, the Frankfurt court ruled that Uber could no longer submit ride-hail requests received on its app to car-hire companies because, among other things, it didn’t own a car-hire license itself, as required in Germany. The regional court said Uber could appeal the decision but that it should suspend such services immediately. The ruling didn’t address Uber’s cooperation with taxi fleets.
A spokesman for Uber in Germany, Tobias Fröhlich, said in a statement that the company “will assess the court’s ruling and determine next steps to ensure our services in Germany continues.” He added that the company is “committed to being a true partner to German cities for the long term.”
Shares of Uber dipped slightly at market open Thursday morning but were roughly flat at $30.01 in midday trading.
Uber has faced robust regulatory pushback, particularly in Europe, as the company expanded rapidly, disrupting taxi fleets and transport operations across the globe.
The Frankfurt case was brought by a group of German taxi operators, who themselves operate under strict regulations and have been among the most vocal opponents of the company.
Last month, Uber lost its license to operate in London after regulators there said they found widespread instances of unauthorized drivers using the platform to pick up patrons.
Thursday’s ruling in Germany leaves Uber with one less option in its attempt to offer a service that to its users feels similar to what it provides in the U.S., even though the underlying economics are very different.
“From the passenger’s point of view, Uber itself provides the service and is therefore an entrepreneur within the meaning of the Passenger Transport Act,” said the presiding judge in Frankfurt, referring to the law governing transportation service in Germany.
In recent months, Uber has been quietly lobbying for changes to the German law, which the government has said it will take up for review, according to people familiar with the matter. It is exploring regulations that would allow users to pool rides, a feature available in other markets but currently forbidden in Germany.
Uber has blanketed cities like Berlin with billboards on streets and at major transport hubs, advertising its return to Germany, as it has opened services in major cities, including Hamburg earlier this summer.
The company faces stiff competition in the country from other ride hailing-services such as Free Now, formerly known as myTaxi, a service run jointly by BMW AG and Daimler AG . Free Now wasn’t named in the Frankfurt suit.