Taxi drivers take on Uber in large scale class action

Written on the 3 May 2019 by Business News Australia

Taxi drivers take on Uber in large scale class action

It might be the biggest class action Australia has ever seen as Maurice Blackburn gears up to take on ride-sharing giant Uber.

The law firm is acting on behalf of thousands of taxi, hire car, charger vehicle, and limousine drivers across the country to "hold Uber accountable for destroying their livelihoods".

The case has been in the making for 18 months, with head of class actions at Maurice Blackburn Andrew Watson saying it could be one of the largest class actions ever seen in Australia.

"Make no mistake, this will be a landmark case regarding the alleged illegal operations of Uber in Australia and the devastating impact that has had on the lives of hard-working and law-abiding citizens here," says Watson.

"The sheer scale of the case means it is shaping as one of the largest class actions in Australian history."

"It is not acceptable for a business to place itself above the law and operate illegally to the disadvantage of others. We've got a strong case, a strong team and substantial support from thousands of drivers, operators and licence owners nationwide."

The case has the financial support of Harbour, one of the world's largest litigation funders.

More than 6000 participants from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have already registered for the action.

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Elizabeth O'Shea explains that the class action revolves around the allegation that Uber has been operating in Australia illegally.

"Uber sells the idea that it does things differently, but in reality and as we allege, this has meant operating unlawfully, using devious programs like 'Greyball' All of this caused extensive loss and damage to law-abiding taxi and hire car drivers, operators and licence holders across the country," says O'Shea.

"Uber came in and exploited people by operating outside of regulations and it was Uber's conduct that led to horrible losses being suffered by our group members. For those reasons, we are targeting the multi-billion-dollar company Uber and its associated entities to provide redress to those affected."

Breakdown of numbers across each state represented in the class action:

VIC

  • Taxi licences as at August 2017 4,624
  • Taxi drivers as at August 2017 16, 880
  • Hire-car licences 2016/17 1,140

NSW

  • Taxi licences as at 1 July 2015 7,285
  • Taxi drivers as at 1 July 2015 more than 22,000
  • Hire-car licences as at 1 July 2015 1,700

QLD

  • Taxi licences as at 2016 3,260
  • Taxi drivers 13,158
  • Limousine licences as at 2016 583

WA

  • Taxi licences as at May 2015 2,547
  • Taxi drivers 6250
  • Charter vehicle licences - 600

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