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Toronto lawyers to argue injunction best way to stop Uber

The City of Toronto is expected to argue that a permanent injunction against all of Uber’s offerings is the only effective way to put a stop to its illegal operations.

“The prosecution of charges against individual drivers or against Uber on a trip-by-trip basis are not an effective or efficient allocation of City or court resources,” according to the City of Toronto’s factum filed with Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Thursday.

The filing outlines the city’s argument in its application for an injunction that is scheduled to begin on May 19. Uber’s factum has not been filed yet, but spokeswoman Susie Heath said it expects to do so on Friday.

The city’s filing, dated May 1, acknowledges if Uber were to apply for a taxi brokerage licence and obtained one, it would be in compliance with the municipal code. The company filed an application on Tuesday, and the city is now reviewing it.

However, it is not seeking a limo service company licence for its UberBlack and UberSUV products, and no licences exist for its UberX and UberXL products, where ordinary drivers use personal cars or larger vans to transport passengers.

The city points out reasons why the city views Uber as a taxi and limo brokerage. The California-based company touts itself as a technology company, the enables ridesharing by bringing passengers and drivers together through its software application.

“On any common sense interpretation, ‘ridesharing’ is simply another word for carpooling,” the filing from the city said. “Given the breadth and scope of Uber’s activities in carrying on business, it is clear that Uber is not facilitating carpooling.

“In fact, the appropriate conclusion is that Uber brokers services that are, in all important respects, taxicab and limousine services.”

It acknowledges that Uber is “a very sophisticated taxicab brokerage” that recruits and screens drivers, receives requests for rides from passengers and delivers requests for those rides to drivers.

Uber also regulates the area in which the drivers can operate, sets the fares to be charged, transfers the money between the parties, after taking a percentage ranging from 20 per cent 28 per cent, and monitors drivers’ behaviour through customer reviews and complaints.

In addition, Uber uses a surge pricing system — where an algorithm notes when demand is on the increase, the fares will increase, in hopes of drawing more drivers to the area.

It has also determined that it is in the public interest to limit the number of taxicabs and limousines to 4,853. Uber estimates that 15,000 individuals will register drivers under the UberX and UberXL platforms by the end of this year, with the majority in the GTA.