ATTN MELBOURNE: Court Appeal Rules Uber Is *NOT* Illegal Once Again

Whilst the battle for the regulation and legislation of ridesharing services like Uber has been fought mainly in state parliaments around the country, in Victoria the legalities of the service have been vetted through the court system.

An on-going “test case” against Uber driver Nathan Brenner has served as the frontline battle for both sides of the legal argument.
Brenner, who at one point served as the manager of Split Enz and Men at Work, accepted a booking on August 21st, 2014 at the Hilton in East Melbourne for a $9 fare to the Hotel Como in South Melbourne. However he arrived at the booking to discover that the booking was a sting made by two Taxi Services Commissioners, who subsequently charged him with operating a commercial passenger vehicle without being authorised.
Back in December of last year, the initial court case found Brenner guilty of those charges, levelling a $900 fine against him, and in the process created a legal precedent that effectively rendered UberX illegal in Victoria.
However, the company continued to operate the service within the state, and Brenner subsequently launched an appeal.
Today, Judge Geoff Chettle ruled in favour of Brenner, dismissing the original charges against him and overturning the original court’s decision; a ruling that effectively makes Uber “not illegal” in Victoria once again.
In Melbourne’s County Court this morning, Chettle applauded Brenner’s defence team and lashed prosecution for failing to actually read the relevant act that they were basing their case off of.
The ruling found that, under the current Victorian taxi legislation which was drafted and enacted in 1941, an Uber vehicle cannot be classified as a commercial passenger vehicle as the act’s definition stipulates.
Judge Chettle threw the case out, and awarded all legal costs to Brenner.
The decision means that Uber’s legal status in Victoria is effectively back to square one, and now the onus returns to the Andrews Government to draft and implement the regulatory legislation that would encompass and legalise ridesharing in the state.
Uber Victoria’s GM Matt Denman was beyond stoked with the decision:
“We are delighted that our driver-partner Mr Brenner won his appeal today in the the County Court of Victoria, and was awarded costs.”

“The time for excuses is over. The Andrews Government needs to listen to the hundreds of thousands of Victorians who are choosing ridesharing every week and introduce sensible, safety-based regulations without delay.”

Uber is currently legal in New South Wales, Western Australia, and the ACT. But both South Australia and Queensland remain doggedly opposed to the service.

Source: Herald Sun.
Photo: Adam Berry/Getty.