Car sharers beware - bus bosses might bite back
Cleaners have found themselves caught up in a bizarre court case after deciding to share lifts to work rather than take an inconvenient bus journey.The ten women, from Moselle in France, are employed as cleaners in EU offices in Luxembourg.
Fed up with waiting for the bus and then enduring a long a journey, they decided to take a pro-active approach and organise a car share instead.
But rather than receive credit for acting as exemplary citizens and playing their part in reducing pollution, the women have wound up being dragged through the courts by bus company Transports Schiocchet Excursions, which is seeking to prove that setting up the car share was "an act of unfair and parasitic competition".
According to reports in French newspaper Liberation the company is trying to claim €5,000 in compensation from the women for loss of earnings.
The decision seems to have backfired, however, giving the women a huge publicity boost and encouraging more would-be users of the bus route to start their own car shares instead.
Lawyer Cécile Klein-Schmitt, defending several of the women, has called the case ridiculous and absurd, and said even if one ignores the strange facts of the case and simply concentrates on its legal foundation it is difficult to see why the magistrate did not throw it out at the first hearing.
The civil case has now ground to a halt but the bus firm is taking the matter to the French court of bankruptcy, where it is expected to be heard at the beginning of next year.
By Sam Bond