The legal services of the car rental companies with driver (VTC) finalize a battery of legal measures against the decree-law of the Generalitat of Catalonia that regulates its activity. And among the compensations that are going to demand is that the political leaders of the regional government responsible for the rule, with the Minister of Territory, Damian Calvet, at the head, pay out of pocket the damages that consider that the regulation they have promoted has caused to the sector.
The Catalan regulation of the VTC has established the obligation that these services are precontracted with a minimum of 15 minutes in advance, with the possibility that the municipalities extend the margin up to one hour. The measure has led to applications such as Uber or Cabify to leave this autonomous community and the companies that own these vehicles with which applications worked to present temporary EREs. Both the apps and these companies understand that the regulations of the Generalitat are an obstacle that makes their business unfeasible and forces them to close down. And for that reason they will demand a compensation to the Catalan Government, because they consider him responsible for the cessation of their activity.
But the sector does not want to limit its claims to the purely institutional sphere. «We are going to ask for patrimonial responsibilities to the people who have made such an outrage», explain sources of this sector. Along with this claim for compensation, criminal complaints will also be filed against the directors who have had responsibility in the decree, as they announced last week.
At first, Unauto, the employers of the VTC companies, calculated that the claims to the Generalitat could be around 1,000 million euros in case the Catalan government approved a regulation that would restrict its activity. However, the introduction of pre-contracting led them to revise this figure upwards. They understand that this measure is not a mere restriction for their business but that it has led to their closure, which will force them to face payments such as the cancellation of contracts with customers, the "leasing" of vehicles or compensation to their drivers. And these costs, they say, must also be borne by the administration that provoked them. Their latest estimates suggest that the amount they could claim would be around 1,500 million euros.
And it is not only the VTC companies that prepare claims. Sources of the sector assure that many drivers of these vehicles are also weighing claims in the Courts damages to the Generalitat for approving a rule that has led them to lose their jobs.
Although the VTC have all their legal artillery pointing to the Catalan Government, it is not so clear that it should ultimately be the one that assumes possible compensation. During the convalidation debate in the Congress of the state decree of the sector, the Minister of Public Works, José Luis Ábalos, assured that, in the event that compensation were derived, it would be the State that would assume them. According to his argument, all the legislation on the VTC sector that is approved emanates from the state decree and that would, theoretically, exempt the autonomies from having to pay any patrimonial responsibility. However, the argument of Ábalos is not recorded in the decree-law, something that made him see the Catalan nationalists during the debate in the Congress of the rule. To make it black on white and there are no misunderstandings, both ERC and PdeCAT have requested that, during their parliamentary processing as a bill, the decree reflect the issue in writing.