Taxi drivers in Melbourne remain murderously furious at Uber and all ride-sharing platforms, and have very much not forgotten the period of years when Uber operated in the Victorian capital seemingly without legislative approval from the State Government.
Uber launched in Melbourne in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the service was fully legislated by the State Government. That period of 3 years is the subject of a new class-action lawsuit being filed on behalf of Melbourne’s Taxi drivers that could seek as much as a whopping $500 million from Uber, according to Maurice Blackburn, who is initiating the legal proceedings.
The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of some 1,000 taxi and private car operators, who were forced to comply with existing and prohibitively expensive regulation while Uber operated outside of it throughout the three-year period.
They allege that in this time, Uber’s operations caused widespread loss of livelihood, with the company engaging in conspiracy by unlawful means. The lawsuit also includes provision for damages to be awarded.
The lawsuit has already sourced some $20 million in funding from UK litigation bankroller Harbour, meaning that once the suit has been filed with the Victorian Supreme Court it is game the hell on.
Rod Burton, who is president of the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Association, spoke to Fairfax Media and blasted Uber for not only ruining the livelihoods of taxi drivers, but for destroying the market in general.
There is a requirement to have commercial passenger licences, a taxi licence or a Victorian hire car licence; they [Uber] operated for years without those. Allowing Uber to operate like that has given them a huge commercial advantage and allowed them to build a client base at the expense of other operators working within the law.
Not only did it destroy us in terms of our assets, it destroyed the market. The income is not there anymore.
Maurice Blackburn officials believe that, if successful, it could be one of biggest class action payouts in Australian history, eclipsing the Black Saturday payout of $500 million; a class action that the firm was also responsible for.
The case is expected to be filed with the Victorian Supreme Court in the coming days. Similar action in Canada is also being taken against Uber.
Image: Getty Images / Robert Prezioso