Airbnb has won the case (C-390/18) at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), affecting how the company is regulated in the future. The CJEU has ruled that Airbnb is not an ‘estate agent’ but an ‘information society service’, meaning it can avoid certain responsibilities.
French Association for Professional Tourism and Accommodation (AHTOP) lodged the complaint against Airbnb claiming that the company did not merely connect two parties through its platform, it also acted as an estate agent without holding a professional licence, in breach of the act known as the ‘Hoguet Law’ which applies to the activities of real estate professionals in France.
However, the CJEU disagreed with AHTOP arguments that Airbnb should be considered as an estate agent. Opposite, the court agreed with Airbnb’s argument that its business must be classified as an ‘information society service’, therefore concluded that Article 2(a) of EU Directive 2000/31 on electronic commerce must be interpreted as meaning that an intermediation service which, by means of an electronic platform, is intended to connect, for remuneration, potential guests with professional or non-professional hosts offering short-term accommodation, while also providing a certain number of services ancillary to that intermediation service, therefore, must be classified as an ‘information society service’.
Whereas, two years ago the CJEU made a different conclusion (Case C-434/15) regarding other digital platform – Uber. The court then decided that Uber platform is not an ‘information society service’, but intermediation service, therefore must be regarded as being inherently linked to a transport service and, accordingly, must be classified as ‘a service in the field of transport’ within the meaning of EU law. Such CJEU interpretation meant that Uber is going to face more harsh regulation in order to comply with individual EU Member States’ transportation regulations.