Twenty-three Hong Kong Uber drivers plead not guilty to using car for hire without permit

Case is first prosecution to follow landmark trial where drivers for ride-hailing company were compared to pirate cabbies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 10:57pm

Twenty-three Hong Kong Uber drivers on Thursday denied driving passengers for a reward without the necessary permits.

The case is the first prosecution since five drivers were found guilty of driving without such permits and third-party insurance in a landmark trial that concluded there was no significant difference between the acts of these Uber drivers and that of pak pai, or pirate taxi drivers, which the Road Traffic Ordinance sought to regulate from 1977.

The five drivers have since lodged appeals.

A pretrial review for the present case is set for February 1 next year.

The 22 men and one woman each pleaded not guilty to one count of driving a motor vehicle for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward.

Under Hong Kong law, using a car for hire without a permit is a criminal offence punishable by a HK$5,000 fine and three months’ imprisonment on first conviction and HK$10,000 and six months’ imprisonment on the subsequent conviction.

The 23 drivers are aged between 22 and 60.

Some of them are unemployed or retired, while others have declared occupations such as driver, construction worker, insurance agent, teacher, trading agent, advertising agent and shop owner.

They are Yuong Ho-cheung, Yip Wai-ming, Yip Ka-shing, Alan Chow Kwok-kwong, Andrew Chan Pak-kay, Lam Yan-ming, Wong Wai-keung, Tsang Kwok-ming, Hui Kwok-wai, Gary Lee Hing-lung, Bosch Lau Kin-fung, Tse Kee-bo, Tong Po-hin, Wong Sai-ming, Li Sui-leung, Lee Kwok-leung, Ivan Chung Tze-chun, Adrain Cheung Yuk-fung, Wong Siu-pong, Emma Chow Wing-ching, Wong Tak-ming, Kong Cheuk-lai and Lau Siu-hang.

All were released on HK$1,000 bail.

An Uber spokesman said: “We continue to support driver-partners, including any necessary legal assistance.”