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Uber class action settlement: ride-share giant to pay $272m to Australian taxi drivers

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Uber has agreed to a settlement in the class action launched against it by Australia taxi drivers. It will pay $272 million to settle the five-year legal dispute.
uber class action settlement

Uber has agreed to a settlement in the class action launched against it by Australia taxi drivers. It will pay $272 million to settle the five-year legal dispute.

A class action argued Uber’s “aggressive” and “illegal” launch in Australia caused direct financial losses for taxi and hire-car workers. A class action is a type of lawsuit where many people are represented by one entity.

It’s the first settlement between Uber and the Australian taxi industry, and the fifth-largest class action settlement in Australian history.

Uber

States have their own regulations for taxi and hire-car services. This can include special licences, vehicle registration fees, and driver standards.

When Uber first launched in Australia, ride-sharing was unregulated (unlike taxis). The taxi industry argued the launch of Uber created unfair competition. It called for ride-sharing services to be subject to the same regulations as taxis.

Uber accused states and territories of trying to regulate the platform using “outdated” laws.

The lawsuit

In 2019, legal firm Maurice Blackburn filed a class action against Uber in the Supreme Court of Victoria. The action was brought on behalf of 8,000 people, including taxi drivers and business owners.

The claim related to the launch of the UberX service in NSW, Qld, Vic and WA in 2014. Maurice Blackburn argued some Uber vehicles and drivers had operated illegally without the proper licenses and accreditations.

“This caused loss of income to authorised taxi drivers and operators, and hire car operators,” it said.

Uber class action settlement

The class action was due to be heard in upcoming court proceedings. However, Uber has agreed to pay a $271.8 million settlement.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Michael Donelly said: “Uber fought tooth and nail at every point along the way, every day” for five years. He said the outcome ”will finally put real money back into the accounts of people who have been devastated [by Uber].”

The sum is expected to be shared between the 8,000 members of the class action.

Uber’s response

Uber has argued a “one size fits all approach” to taxi and ride-share services failed to recognise the advantages of taxis, like “access to street ranks” and being able to “accept anonymous street hails.“

In response to today’s settlement, it said Uber is “now regulated in every state and territory,” and that since 2018 it’s made “significant contributions into various state-level taxi compensation schemes”.

”With today’s proposed settlement, we put these legacy issues firmly in our past.”

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