Australian Taxi Drivers Secure $272 Million from Uber in Historic World-First Settlement of Class Action Case

By Leira Aquino

Mar 18, 2024 12:22 AM EDT

Protesters gather on September 10, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Tram drivers are striking for over a pay dispute between drivers and employer Yarra Trams, while taxi drivers are walking off the job in protest of the illegal rideshare service UberX. In 2024, Uber agrees to a groundbreaking $272 million settlement with Australian taxi operators, concluding a five-year class action lawsuit initiated by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on behalf of over 8000 taxi and hire car owners and drivers impacted by Uber's entry into the Australian market.
(Photo : Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

Ridesharing Giant Uber has agreed to pay out a staggering $272 million to Australian taxi operators, marking a historic world-first resolution of a class action lawsuit that spanned five years. 

This settlement, which ranks as the fifth-largest in Australian legal history, comes after a protracted legal battle initiated by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on behalf of over 8000 taxi and hire car owners and drivers who suffered financial losses following Uber's aggressive entry into the Australian market.

Uber Settles Landmark Class Action

The class action, which was slated to proceed to trial in the Supreme Court of Victoria, was halted as Uber opted to settle the matter, acknowledging the substantial compensation owed to the affected drivers and operators. 

Michael Donelly, Principal Lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, emphasized on Monday the arduous nature of the legal proceedings.

"Uber fought tooth and nail at every point along the way, every day, for the five years this has been on foot," Donelly said in a statement. "But on the courtroom steps and after years of refusing to do the right thing by those we say they harmed, Uber has blinked, and thousands of everyday Australians joined together to stare down a global giant."

According to Donelly, Uber's tactics included "trying at every turn to deny our group members any form of remedy or compensation for their losses." 

The crux of the lawsuit revolved around the economic upheaval experienced by taxi and hire car drivers following Uber's disruptive expansion. 

Initially initiated by former Melbourne taxi driver Nick Andrianakis, the lawsuit expanded into a class action involving over 8000 taxi and chartered drivers. 

Their grievance centered on the financial detriment caused by Uber's unauthorized establishment and operation of its UberX services in Australia.

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Class Action Suit May Pave Way for Industry-Wide Implications 

Lead plaintiff Andrianakis hailed the settlement as a significant victory for the industry, which had been "decimated" by Uber's actions.

Uber acknowledged the settlement but highlighted the development of rules since its inception and noted that it complies with laws in all Australian states and territories. 

The company highlighted its contributions to state-level taxi compensation schemes since 2018, signaling its commitment to addressing legacy issues.

Donelly expressed satisfaction with the outcome, affirming that the settlement ranks among the top five class action resolutions in Australian legal history, bringing substantial financial relief to those adversely affected.

The resolution of this case marks a significant milestone in the ongoing evolution of Australia's transport industry.

With the Supreme Court set to review the settlement in the coming weeks, the aftermath of this historic agreement will likely reverberate throughout the country's legal landscape, setting a precedent for future engagements between multinational corporations and local industries.

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