At a recent hearing in Ho Chi Minh City, the city’s legal counsel rejected ride-hailing firm Grab's argument that the court had no jurisdiction over a lawsuit that Vinasun taxi company has brought against Grab Vietnam based upon “unhealthy competition and that Grab must pay Vinasun compensation for losses the company incurred.”
Grab's legal position is that it is a technology company and not a taxi company. However, prosecutors said that since Grab directly assigns drivers, sets fares, sets regulations for drivers, and offer promotions, that its legal position is not valid and that the courts do have jurisdiction since the dispute between Vinasun and Grab is a commercial dispute.
HCMC prosecutors requested that the judges in the trial to deny Grab's request to summon representatives of Vietnam's Ministry of Transport, companies participating in the ministry's pilot scheme for ride-hailing services and the company responsible for estimating Vinasun's losses.
The prosecutors legal statement said that: "Vinasun’s demand for compensation for reduced profits is well founded since Grab was dishonest in its business declaration and ran promotions in contravention of regulations, causing over 70 percent of Vinasun's customers to switch to Grab due to lower fares."
According to Vinasun, the company's after-tax profit was nearly $13.7 million USD (320 billion VND) in 2015 and $12.63 million USE (295 billion VND) in 2016, but dropped to $2.27 million USD (53 billion VND) in the first half of 2017. At this time, 8,000+ drivers had quit the company and hundreds of cars had stopped running due to a lack of drivers.
Prosecutors also asked the court to accept Vinasun's petition for compensation of $1.8 million USD (42 billion VND) in one payment. Vinasun claimed to have suffered losses of nearly $3.25 million (76 billion VND) in 2016 and the first half of 2017, of which nearly $1.8 million USD (42 billion VND) was caused by Grab.
Grab’s legal team continued to insist to the court that the case did not come under its jurisdiction and that it is a technology firm. It also said in its legal documents that it was not the cause of Vinasun’s losses and cited market research that said that Vinasun has been losing customers due to other reasons such as driver's attitude, long waiting time and declining car quality.
Vinasun filed the suit against Grab at the HCMC People's Court in June 2017 and accused the company firm of abusing the Ministry of Transport’s pilot scheme for ride-sharing services and committed multiple violations.
The trial began last February, but was then adjourned in April, due to the need for more evidence; and then adjourned again in September when Grab protested against the evaluation of Vinasun's losses and refused to attend court proceedings.