Airbnb is a platform not an estate agent, says Europe’s leading court

Airbnb will be breathing a sigh of relief today: Europe’s leading court has actually evaluated it to be an online platform, which merely connects individuals searching for short-term accommodation, rather than a full-blown estate agent.

The judgment might make it harder for the “house sharing” platform to be required to abide by local property guidelines– a minimum of under existing local rules governing e-commerce platforms.

The judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today follows a problem made by a French tourism association, AHTOP, which had actually argued Airbnb needs to hold an expert estate representative licence. And, that by not having one, the platform giant was in breach of a piece of French legislation called the “Hoguet Law.”

However, the court disagreed– siding with Airbnb’s argument that its business should be classified as an “information society service” under EU Instruction 2000/31 on electronic commerce.

Discussing the ruling in a statement, Luca Tosoni, a research fellow at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law at the University of Oslo, informed us: “The Court’s finding that online platforms that facilitate the arrangement of short-term lodging services, such as Airbnb, certify as providers of ‘details society services’ entails stringent constraints on the ability to introduce or implement restrictive measures on similar services by a Member State aside from that in whose area the pertinent company is established.”

” The Court’s judgment recommends that the enforcement of restrictive procedures against a provider of ‘info society services’ may only take place on an extremely extraordinary basis, based on strict substantive and procedural conditions, consisting of prior specific alert to the European Commission,” he added.

It’s a ruling that Uber might well look enviously at– offered, in the case of its ride-hailing platform, the CJEU reached a really various conclusion a couple of years ago, finding Uber to be a transport service not simply a tech platform.

In the Airbnb case, the court indicates differences versus the Uber ruling, keeping in mind that an online intermediation service might be classed otherwise if the intermediation service forms an essential part of a general service whose main element is a service coming under another legal category.

” In the present case, the Court found that an intermediation service such as that supplied by Airbnb Ireland pleased those conditions, and the nature of the links between the intermediation service and the provision of lodging did not validate leaving from the category of that intermediation service as an ‘details society service’ and hence the application of Instruction 2000/31 to that service,” it composes in a news release on the judgement.

Elements which notified that judgement consist of that Airbnb’s service is “not aimed just at supplying immediate lodging services, but rather it consists basically of supplying a tool for presenting and finding lodging for lease, consequently assisting in the conclusion of future rental arrangements”; that the platform is “in no way essential to the provision of lodging services, considering that the guests and hosts have a variety of other channels in that regard, a few of which are long-standing”; and it found absolutely nothing indicate Airbnb sets or caps the quantity of the rents charged by the hosts utilizing its platform.

“[U] nlike the intermediation services at issue in the judgments in Asociación Profesional Elite Taxi and Uber France, neither that intermediation service nor the supplementary services provided by Airbnb Ireland make it possible to develop the existence of a decisive influence exercised by that business over the accommodation services to which its activity relates, with regard both to determining the rental cost charged and picking the hosts or accommodation for rent on its platform,” the CJEU adds in its press release.

The court also found fault with France for stopping working to alert the European Commission of the licensing requirement it was putting on Airbnb.

Grabbed talk about the CJEU judgement Airbnb suggested the result does not mean federal governments in Europe are not able to apply guidelines to its platform– stating that it wants to keep dealing with the European Commission to make sure there are fair and proportionate rules for how Member States can use regional policies to online platforms.

” We welcome this judgment and wish to progress and continue dealing with cities on clear rules that put local households and communities at the heart of sustainable 21 st century travel,” the business stated in a declaration. “We want to be good partners to everybody and already we have actually worked with more than 500 governments and authorities to assist hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay tax.”

The new European Commission has signaled it intends to update safety and liability rules around online platforms– via an upcoming Digital Provider Act, which looks set to amend the current e-commerce guidelines. It’s possible tighter regulations could be coming for platforms in the next few years. For this reason Airbnb being keen to deal with the Commission on any resetting of the rules.

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