Edmonton judge overturns decision; Uber driver heading to trial

Edmonton judge overturns decision; Uber driver heading to trial - image
AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy, File

EDMONTON – It turns out an Edmonton Uber driver legal issues aren’t over.

On Jan. 7, 2015, Barinder Sandu was charged with operating a business without a licence and operating a vehicle for hire without a taxi plate.

Sandhu was acquitted of the charges, but the decision has been overturned by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Donna Shelley.

At trial, Sandhu admitted he told a city employee posing as an Uber customer that he was an Uber driver on the day he was charged. Sandhu parked his vehicle at 101 Street and Jasper Avenue when he was approached by the clerk.

She told the 39-year-old driver that her Uber app wasn’t working, but could pay $25 cash for a ride to Northgate Mall. Sandhu was charged after the city employee said he agreed.

However, Shandhu denied accepting the cash for a ride. He let the clerk into his car so she could warm up because it was cold outside and show her how to use the app, he said.

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READ MORE: City seeks input on how taxis, Uber could charge fares in Edmonton

At trial, Sandhu was acquitted because the traffic commissioner had a reasonable doubt whether the $25 transaction was completed.

In October, Shelley overturned the commissioner’s decision based on her belief the lack of proof of the transaction didn’t mean the charges weren’t warranted.

“The Commissioner later incorrectly focussed his decision on the success of the particular transaction,” Shelley wrote.

“The transaction itself was only one piece of evidence, and not necessarily determinative of guilt. Proof of the transaction was not necessary component of the charge before the Court.”

READ MORE: UberSELECT upscale rides coming to Edmonton

Edmonton city council is working on a vehicle-for-hire bylaw it hopes will strike a balance between allowing a free market and making sure those taking Uber are protected in case of a collision.

It would create a special class of licence for private transportation providers like Uber, making them very similar to taxi drivers. The bylaw would require Uber drivers to have a city licence, undergo a criminal record check, have their vehicle inspected annually and pay for commercial insurance.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a step forward’: Edmonton council sends ride-sharing issue back to administration

In November a draft of the by-law passed first reading, before being sent back to administration. Both Uber and Edmonton taxi drivers were seeking amendments to it. A report addressing several issues and the question of insurance will come back to council on January 26, 2016.


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