The lawyer who led a prominent court case – which ended with the European Union ruling that the UK could unilaterally reverse the Brexit – appeared in court on Wednesday for a new fight, this time with Uber Technologies Inc.
Jolyon Maugham, who runs a group that raises money for lawsuits that promote a progressive agenda, says Uber has to pay VAT, a 20 percent VAT tax on most goods and services. Uber says it is not necessary because it only acts as an intermediary between drivers and motorcyclists.
Uber would have to pay £ 1 billion ($ 1.3 billion) if Maugham won his case after the arrears were counted, Maugham said outside the court, citing his own calculations.
His lawyer Vikram Sachdeva said during the trial that the case Uber can hold liable for an estimated annual tax of 200 million pounds.
The case focuses on an Uber trip that Maugham made in March 2017 and costs 6 pounds and 34 pence. He wants a statement from the court that Uber must give him a VAT invoice for 1 pound and 6 pence for the trip. The invoice would allow him to recover the sales tax if the journey was for business purposes.
"The sum in question is clearly trivial," Maugham said in court, but the underlying case is "of great public interest" because of the amount of tax that would eventually be paid if he wins.
The case will raise the question whether Uber should be regarded as the supplier of taxi rides, or whether the driver should be. It is a question that is central to the so-called "gig economy", where technology companies have identified traditional employment models.
"Anyone coming into an Uber will be affected by this case," Sachdeva said in court on Wednesday.
Maugham & # 39; s lawsuit "has been largely clustered by crowdfunding by the black cab taxi industry, which have a significant commercial interest in trying to change the competitiveness of Uber's services," said the shipping company in its lawsuits. said that Maugham is motivated by "good governance" and "people who want to pay their VAT to pay it." & Maugham says & # 39; expressly does not do it with the goal of the black cab industry & # 39 ;, said Sachdeva.
A Uber spokesperson did not respond immediately.
Maugham is one of the most open voices against the EU's impending exit in the UK. In 2016, he conducted a crowdfunding campaign for a legal challenge against Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to start the formal process for Brexit, an article 50 announcement, without first voting in Parliament. That campaign was the People & # 39; s Challenge, one of the groups that Gina Miller supported in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court – and won.
Uber says that Maugham's last case has no value and that "it is not necessary for this claim to be filed." Uber argues that HM Revenue & Customs, the UK tax authorities, is the designated authority to decide on its tax payments, not Maugham.
During a hearing on Wednesday, Maugham filed an application to, if he eventually loses the case, the most that he has to pay Uber £ 20,000 in legal fees. The resources of Maugham "pale in comparison" with Uber, and he will not be able to continue with the case if he does not reach the limit, he said in files.
Uber says Maugham could continue the lawsuit without the cost order because he could raise more money from Black Cab drivers and others.
The ride-hailing giant is also involved in a separate British lawsuit about the labor rights of his drivers. It appeals to the highest judge in the country whether directors are entitled to minimum wages and holiday pay.
The case is Jolyon Toby Dennis Maugham against Uber London Limited, High Court of Justice, case number HC-2017-001496.
Copyright 2019 Bloomberg.
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