More than 6000 Aussies are suing Uber
MORE than 6000 taxi, hire car, charter vehicle and limousine drivers and licence plate owners are joining forces to sue Uber in a class action being filed in court today.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn will file the lawsuit in the Victorian Supreme Court, which covers participants from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
In NSW more than 22,000 taxi drivers are affected, and a further 16,880 cabbies from Victoria are also impacted.
In Queensland, 13,158 taxi drivers are affected and in Western Australia 6250 drivers are also affected.
Many of these drivers own multiple licences for taxis, hire cars, charter cars and limousines that will be represented as entities in the class action.
The lawsuit will allege Uber acted unlawfully in:
• Victoria between April 1, 2014 and August 23, 2017;
• NSW between April 1, 2014 and December 17, 2015;
• Queensland between April 1, 2014 and September 5, 2016;
• WA between October 10, 2014, and July 4, 2016.
In a pleading summary seen by News Corp, it alleges Uber entities knew their operations in Australia were illegal, because:
• Uber knew its drivers were not properly licensed and did not have proper accreditation;
• Uber knew the vehicles used by Uber drivers were not properly licensed;
• Uber realised its operations would be the subject of enforcement activities and operated a "Greyball" programmed aimed at avoiding those activities; and
• Uber Inc. adopted a policy to operate in any market where the regulator had tacitly approved doing so by failing to take direct enforcement action, effectively in complete disregard for any regulations which existed.
"As a result, Uber had an unfair competitive advantage against taxi and hire care industry participants who were complying with the law," the summary stated.
Greyball is a type of software Uber allegedly used to deceive regulators, fine drivers and bar certain customers from travelling with the app.
National Head of Class Actions Andrew Watson said the "sheer scale" of the case means it is shaping as one of the largest class actions in Australian history.
"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 hardworking and law-abiding citizens here," he said.
"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."
Maurice Blackburn's Senior Associate Lawyer Elizabeth O'Shea said the lawsuit would not cost registrants anything, as it is being bankrolled by one of the world's largest litigation funders, Harbour.
"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'," she said.
"Uber came in and exploited people by operating outside of regulations.
"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."
An Uber Australia spokeswoman told News Corp that despite a number of media stories to date, they have not received any notification of a class action.
"Over 3.8 million Australians regularly use Uber as a reliable choice to get from A to B and governments across the country have recognised ride sharing as part of the transport mix," she said.
"We are focusing our efforts on delivering a great service to riders and drivers in the cities where we operate."
Maurice Blackburn is still taking registrations from drivers who want to sign up at www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/uberclassaction