Verdict next month in taxi v ride-hailing firm trial

By Dat Nguyen   October 29, 2018 | 05:22 pm PT
Verdict next month in taxi v ride-hailing firm trial
A Grab driver waits for clients on a street in Hanoi. Photo by Shutterstock
Claims of losses suffered by taxi firm Vinasun at the hands of ride-hailing firm Grab will be verified before verdict.

A HCMC court Monday postponed until next month the announcement of a verdict in the case between Vietnam's top taxi firm Vinasun and ride-hailing Grab.

As requested by the HCMC People’s Procuracy, Vinasun offered more details of losses it had suffered since Grab entered the Vietnamese market in 2015.

Over 12,000 Vinasun drivers had quit because of Grab’s policy to recruit them, a company representative said, adding that Vinasun has just 8,000 drivers now.

Grab has offered promotions, reduced fares to zero in some cases and constantly increased its number of vehicles, resulting in a loss of VND42 billion (nearly $1.8 million) for Vinasun, the representative added.

The taxi firm said that a total of 2,779 of its cars have been inactive from 2016 till the end of June last year due to Grab’s presence in the market.

Vinasun said the figures were compiled by an inspection agency, which was not present at the court.

In response, Grab demanded that the court reconsider the inspection results presented by Vinasun, saying the figures were incorrect.

Grab’s lawyer said that although the court had asked the company to examine its losses, it had hired a third party to do the job.

Vinasun’s claim that its stocks price were down because of Grab was incorrect, because the stocks are owned by shareholders, not the company, the lawyer argued.

After discussions, the court adjourned the case until November 22 to verify the loss claims made by Vinasun.

Vinasun filed the suit against Grab in June last year, accusing the Malaysia-based firm of abusing the Ministry of Transport’s pilot scheme and committing violations.

It said Grab's illegal activities were responsible for nearly VND42 billion (nearly $1.8 million) of the VND76 billion ($3.25 million) in losses that it suffered in 2016 and the first half of 2017.

The trial began last February, but was adjourned a month later to allow for more evidence to be gathered. Another adjournment happened last month when Grab protested against the evaluation of Vinasun's losses and refused to attend the trial.

Last Tuesday, prosecutors asked the court to accept Vinasun’s petition for compensation of nearly VND42 billion (nearly $1.8 million) in one payment, dismissing Grab’s claim to be a tech firm and not a taxi company.

Grab responded two days letter by sending a letter to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, saying that identifying Grab as a taxi firm would be “a step backwards from Industry 4.0.”

Under the latest draft of a decree prepared by the Transport Ministry, transport firms offering services with under 9-seater cars should be registered as taxi firms before they can apply ride-hailing technologies.

This means that Grab and other ride-hailing firms would have to register their services again as taxi businesses and comply with corresponding legal responsibilities regarding their operating licenses, drivers’ profiles and tax duties.

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