The Korean Air litigation – Are you nuts?!?

cho

Everybody who has seen ‘Up in the air’ with George Clooney will know: the frequent traveller likes his/her habits.

No wonder, Ms Heather Cho went completely nuts last year on a Korean Air flight when here macademia nuts were served still in the bag, while first class passengers have the right to have them served on a plate.

Happened to be that Ms Cho was also daughter of the CEO of Korean Air.  Without further notice, she forced the crew to return the plane back to the gate for this serious breach of (first class) aviation law.  And at the same time, she could kick the crew member who served her these nuts off her plane.  As it was more or less indeed HER plane.

Unfortunately for her, Korean Court ruled today there was no serious breach on behalf of the crew but found Ms Cho guilty of forcing the plane to change its route, obstructing the flight captain and forcing a crew member off a plane, resulting in 1 year prison sentence.

I wonder how they serve nuts in prison… if they serve them at all…

David Diris – Belgian lawyer – Kocks & Partners – Brussels

Picture: Bloomberg

Team of Kocks & Partners at the farewell reception of Mr. Peter Fuchs (AdvantageAustria)

Kocks & Partners have been for many years the preferred lawyer of AdvantageAustria in Brussels, Belgium.  We were happy to be invited at the yearly Christmas reception which was this year also the farewell reception of Mr Peter Fuchs.  Pictures are here.  We are looking forward to continue our cooperation with Mrs Martina Madeo.

Unfair Commercial Practices: UNIZO living on the edge

UNIZO is a well-known and well-established national defender of the rights of entrepreneurs and SME‘s.

As a white knight, UNIZO fights against commercial injustice and everything that can cause harm to the Belgian business scene.

One of the examples is the battle against companies as XL MEDIA, which send UNIZO’s members commercial offers disguised as transaction forms.  Of course, there are always less attentive members who pay the transaction form not knowing it was only a commercial offer.  Luckily, UNIZO warns its members for such unfair commercial practices.

Otherwise, I would have probably paid myself the transaction form I received from UNIZO which is only a commercial offer to become member…

Builders be careful what you shout on the streets of Belgium… the new Belgian anti-sexism Act

sexism anti-discrimination

Since August 3, 2014, builders and other street workers are warned in Belgium: a new anti-sexism Act came into force.

As it has become the habit of the powers-to-be to write the rule of law in such way only (expensive) lawyers understand what is meant (and even then…), the Belgian Institute for Equality of Women and Men published a manual for the new Act.

From now on and according to this manual, shouting following sentences could make you end up in prison or fined:

– ‘a directors meeting is not a tupperware-evening’

– ‘a woman has nothing to do on a construction site’

– ‘what a sissy’

– ‘again somebody who is spending the money of her husband on shoes’

– ‘how much?’

Or as the Dean of the University of Leuven said: ‘shouldn’t we accept as society that some people can’t help it to be plain blunt?’

Uber going under (2)

Some time ago, I wrote about the seizure of some UberPop vehicles in Brussels.

In the meantime, the battle has become more serious: a few of the official Brussels taxi companies took Uber to Court and the latter ruled 2 days ago that Uber will have to pay an indemnity of € 10.000,- per breach of Brussels’ taxi regulation. Or to put it simple: € 10.000,- per executed trip.

I will not start analysing the (in)famous Brussels taxi regulation at this point (maybe later), but let’s have look at 2 basic principles often ignored by Belgian Courts: jurisdiction and admissibility of the claim.

Jurisdiction: first of all, one can question on which grounds the Belgian Courts would have jurisdiction in this case.  Even when we would consider Uber’s activities as delivery from services, one has to take a close look at the exact contents of these services.  In my opinion, it would be too easy to state that because the UberPop cars drive around in Brussels, Uber itself delivers services directly on Belgian territory.  All drivers are independent drivers who only use Uber as a sort of virtual dispatcher.  One can question whether these dispatching services can simply be localised where drivers are using them or should be localised where Uber performs/organizes them (probably California, USA).  In the latter case, one could argue against the jurisdiction of Belgian Courts.

Admissibility: to bring a claim before Court under Belgian law, the claimant is not the only one who needs to have a certain quality, but also the plaintiff.  Just as one who has no interest at all cannot file a writ, one also can’t file a writ against somebody with no connection to the issue.  Given the nature of the business model of Uber (independent drivers), one can question whether or not the Court ruled the penalty against the right party.  Firstly, one could argue – similar to the pleas of the people behind the Peer2Peer programs – that Uber itself does nothing illegal by just offering dispatching services.  It are actually the drivers themselves who break the law (even if…).  Moreover, as those drivers are all independent, one could question whether the Court can hold Uber responsible and that it’s even impossible for Uber to stop any possible breach (which would be a ground to overrule the accorded penalties).  You could say that Uber can stop it all by just shutting everything off in Belgium, but then again nobody forced the internet providers to shut the internet down because of illegal downloading from (independent) users.

To be continued…

Uber going under?

Uber

Last week, there were many reasons to celebrate in Brussels.  Not only did winter 2013-2014 turn out to be one of the warmest winters ever, but also Uber launched its services (finally) in Brussels (albeit only UBERpop).

I have used Uber myself in Paris and was very happy with it.  No stinky cabs, no driving around the same block for the 4th time, no hassle with cash money, no explaining your driver how to drive, no tilting meters after midnight, …

You would think the city of Brussels would welcome Uber, especially after all those stories of fake/real Brussels taxi drivers kidnapping and raping tourists.

But Belgium would not be Belgium if we did not find some rules somewhere that were violated.  Yesterday, the 2 only Uber vehicles in Brussels were seized by the police after a ‘random’ police control.  Authorities in charge say Uber violated following rules:

i. the drivers did not pass the exam (strange… I once had a ‘regular’ taxi driver who neither spoke English, French nor Dutch – I wonder in which language he took his exam)

ii. they don’t follow the price setting (hello non-competition authority?)

iii. the cars are not marked properly (you know… the marks that the kidnapping taxis do have)

Apparently, local Brussels authorities also sent a formal complaint letter to Uber in US to stop all its activities.  Probably drafted in French…