What is Airbnb?

Well, it isn’t Uber according to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) who have previously ruled that Uber was not an ‘information service provider’ rather a ‘transport service’ which fell within domestic legislation.

In the instant case, the French tourist board, Association pour un Hébergement et un Tourisme Professionnels, complained that Airbnb, an unlimited company registered in Ireland, did not hold the requisite real estate licence to conduct its business in France.

Applying the rationale of the Uber judgement, it was contended that Airbnb was an integral part of the overall service being provided – namely accommodation rather than as an ‘information society service’ under the E-Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC.  

The CJEU took a different view in concluding that Airbnb was a ‘service normally provided for remuneration, at a distance, by electronic means and at the individual request of a recipient of services’ – in other words, an ‘information service provider’.

Consequently, the free movement of such services between one Member State (Ireland) and another (France) could only be restricted in accordance with the E-Commerce Directive or indeed not at all in the instant case.

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C-390/18 – Airbnb Ireland UC (CJEU, 19 December 2019)

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