French tourism association AHTOP (Association for professional tourism and accommodation) previously lodged a complaint against Airbnb. It argued that the online homestay booking service needs to hold a professional estate agent licence in France since it didn’t just connect two parties through its platform but also acted as a real estate agent. Airbnb was thus accused of being in breach of the act known as the ‘Hoguet Law,’ which applies real-estate professionals activities in France.
However, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that Airbnb is an online platform that must be classified as an ‘information society service’ under EU Directive 2000/31 on electronic commerce. This means that the company doesn’t need to hold an estate agent’s professional licence. The court also presented Uber’s example, which the CJEU deemed to be a transportation service and not just an intermediary platform. For Airbnb, the court notes the differences saying that the online intermediation service may be classed otherwise if the intermediation service forms an integral part of an overall service whose main component is a service coming under another legal classification.
A press release from Europe’s top court states, “In the present case, the Court found that an intermediation service such as that provided by Airbnb Ireland satisfied those conditions, and the nature of the links between the intermediation service and the provision of accommodation did not justify departing from the classification of that intermediation service as an ‘information society service’ and thus the application of Directive 2000/31 to that service’”
In addition, the court stated that France didn’t notify the European Commission of the licensing requirement it was placing on Airbnb in accordance with the second indent of Article 3(4) of Directive 2000/31.
“We welcome this ruling and see it as a positive step for our continued collaboration with cities. Indeed this case was always about how our platform should be regulated – not whether it should be regulated. Cities can, should and do have their own clear and modern rules for home sharing, and we have worked with governments across the globe on measures to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay their fair share of tax,“ Airbnb said in a statement.
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