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What is an intermediation service?

Another article has discussed what e-commerce activities would and would not be classed as an information society service (ISS), in relation to the E-Commerce Directive and the E-Commerce Regulations 2002. It pointed out that intermediation services that form part of other overall services would not be an ISS, but what is an intermediation service.

First, we can look at Asociacion Profesional Elite Taxi v Uber. A Spanish case involving the Uber mobile phone app, which was created by Uber Technologies Inc, based in San Francisco. The app allows customers to order transport services provided by non-professional drivers using their own personal vehicles. The Court of Justice had to rule whether Ubers service in Spain was an ISS or a service in the field of transport.

The court pointed out that the service Uber provides is more than just the Uber app. Without Ubers system, drivers would not be able to offer transportation and customers would not be able to arrange transportation with those drivers. Uber has a significant influence over the conditions of service such as the quality of the drivers, their conduct, their vehicle and setting the maximum charge for the fare. Therefore, the Uber app was an intermediation service which formed an essential part of an overall service in the field of transport. The Court of Justice ruled it was not an ISS.

However, in Airbnb Ireland UC v Hoteliere Turenne SAS the Court of Justice ruled that an intermediation service using an electronic platform, to connect for remuneration, potential customers with hosts offering short-term accommodation, whilst providing services ancillary to the intermediation service, must be classified as an ISS under the E-Commerce Directive. The court found that the intermediation service did not just intend to provide immediate accommodation, it provided a tool for presenting and finding accommodation for rent which enabled the conclusion of future rental agreements. Consequently, it was not merely ancillary to an overall accommodation service.

It is important to note that the United Kingdom (UK) is currently in an implementation period with regards to Brexit. During this period, the UK continues to be subject to EU law. The implementation period is due to end on 31 December 2020 after which some laws could change depending on any deal or no-deal.

It can sometimes be challenging to work out whether an intermediation service is an ISS or not. The outcome of which affects the laws that are applicable to the business. As a business it can often be difficult and time consuming to navigate and comply with all the relevant laws. At Lawdit Stay Legal we have created a one stop shop solution to take the stress of legal compliance away. Our packages at different price points offer something for every business. They will also put legal safeguards in place to assist and protect you if any dispute were to arise. With a free initial consultation there is no need to delay so book today!

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