In 2016, 34 plaintiffs filed a suit against Uber Kenya Limited. Their claim? Uber’s group of companies had violated an online contract signed by drivers in Kenya.
According to court documents, the contract stipulated that the plaintiffs would transport Uber’s Kenya customer base at a minimum of $0.54 per kilometre, with a minimum fare of $2.71. Under this agreement, Uber Kenya Limited retained a 25% cut of overall profits from each ride.
In July 2016, Uber reduced the minimum rate per kilometre to $0.32 and the minimum fare to $1.81 per trip. This, claimed the drivers-turned-plaintiffs, was a breach of contract that left them unable to earn profits as Uber drivers and maintain vehicles purchased to adhere to Uber standards.
Uber Kenya Limited had a different story. They claimed that the group of 34 drivers had not entered into contracts with them but had done so with Uber BV, a private LLC registered in Amsterdam. Because of this, Uber Kenya Limited said they were not liable for the breach of contractual obligations.
After years-long litigation in the High Court of Kenya, during which the drivers fought to prove that Uber Kenya Limited and Uber BV are one and the same, the High Court of Kenya has finally issued its ruling on the issue this week highlighting growing contradictions between faraway multinational tech companies and the growth of Kenya’s tech industry.