Monday , October 18 2021

'Largest' action in country as lawsuit against Uber goes national



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Four states across ten thousand of people are expected to register, with the law firm counting about 40,000 drivers and about 22,000 taxi and hire car licence owners.

Taxi driver Rod Barton is part of the class action against Uber.

Taxi driver Rod Barton is part of the class action against Uber. Credit:Jason South

Maurice Blackburn Senior Associate Elizabeth O'Shea believes that if the class action is successful, then "the millions of dollars".

She said the settlement could be bigger than the largest country in the country – a Maurice Blackburn case in 2014 that won thousands of Black Saturday fishermen victims in Victoria $ 700 million in compensation.

"It's reasonable to think that the settlement will be higher than the largest settlement that has been achieved so far," Ms O'Shea said.

In the case against Uber, the lawyer will seek compensation for the loss of driver during the time of Uber entering the market in early 2014, and the taxi industry being deregulated.

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Lawyers will also seek compensation for taxi and hire car licence plates since 2014

Ms O'Shea said Uber should not be allowed to "come in and not comply with the rules and get an advantage".

"It's quite clear that they managed to get market share and build their business by unlawfully," she said.

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The firm expects to file the case by the year or early next year and was confident it will be successful, Ms O'Shea said.

"We are working with a team of very senior barristers who have confirmed the conclusion that we have come to ourselves," she said. "We think we have a good legal argument."

The case is being backed by UK litigation funder, Harbor.

NSW Taxi Council's chief executive Martin Rogers said the state government's $ 250 million "industry adjustment package", which paid $ 20,000 per plate – an arrangement that was capped at two plates – out of "majority" people out of pocket.

"This has left people devastated, they have lost over $ 200 000 on an asset," Mr Rogers said.

Ride-sharing services have been competing with taxis for more than four years.

Ride-sharing services have been competing with taxis for more than four years.Credit:Ryan Stuart

"They're struggling to make ends and they've passed the age of working so the only option is to go on the pension."

This has left people devastated, they have lost over $ 200 000 on an asset that has many for their superannuation.

Martin Rogers, NSW Taxi Council

Cabs2000's managing director Shane Holley in Queensland said taxi drivers were significantly disadvantaged when Uber entered the market.

"The damage was massive and it was almost instantaneous," he said.

"We lost revenue through our customers. They had a big push to gain market share and it had a flow-on effect."

License plate owners lost "80 percent of the value" under the assistance package offered in Queensland that mirrored the arrangements in NSW, he said.

"There are families out there who have lost their homes and their future investments."

An Uber spokeswoman said despite a number of media stories about the case, the company had "not received any notification of a class action".

"We are focusing on our efforts on delivering a great service to riders and drivers in the cities where we operate," she said.

Transport Reporter at The Age

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