London’s cab drivers announced last week that they were to unite as Cabbie Group Action to bring about a potential group legal action against Uber worth over £500 million for damages and loss of earnings.
This announcement follows similar action in Australia. The Victorian Hire Car Association (VHCA) instructed lawyers Maurice Blackburn to investigate allegations that Uber was operating unlawfully from 2013 until midway through 2017, when new legislation came into effect. The proposed action is backed by Harbour Litigation Funding Ltd, the same funder of the recently announced London group action against the ride-hailing firm. In many cases Uber’s entry into the market has devastating consequences for the livelihoods of existing licence holders and drivers. If the investigation reveals that Uber’s entry in the Melbourne metropolitan area involved unlawful conduct, there may be grounds for a class action to recover losses on the part the affected law-abiding taxi and hire car operators and licence holders.
The action is the first proposed case of its type in Australia, with Canada the only other jurisdiction to pursue similar action. London’s cabbies have since followed suit. Presenting to the Annual General Meeting of the VHCA in November 2017, Maurice Blackburn Class Action Principal Ben Slade said there were at least 6000 taxi and hire licence holders in the Melbourne metropolitan area that were- impacted by the entry of Uber in allegedly unlawful circumstances. “It’s no secret that Uber’s entry into the market, in many cases, has had devastating consequences for the livelihoods of existing licence holders and drivers in the Victorian taxi and hire car industries,” Mr Slade said. “If our investigation reveals that Uber’s entry to the market involved unlawful conduct, there may be grounds for a class action to recover losses on the part of those affected. “We know there are thousands of taxi and hire care operators and license holders and we would anticipate strong interest from those that have felt the impact of Uber’s alleged unlawful entry into the Victorian market. “To those drivers and licence holders who are aggrieved and have suffered because of the way Uber entered the market, we invite them to register for our potential class action on our website from today, as we continue our investigation into the matter.”