The court battle between the New South Wales taxi industry and ride-sharing app Uber is set to escalate after a Supreme Court judge ruled today that around 5000 UberX drivers deserve representation in a fight over the legality of the service.
The Australian Taxi Drivers Association is funding a counter-claim against the legality of UberX after the industry disrupter took out an injunction against a vigilante hire car operator who attempted to make citizen’s arrests on UberX drivers earlier this year.
The Australian Financial Review reports that NSW Supreme Court justice John Sackar ruled today that the rights of around 5000 UberX are directly affected by the legal action, so they should be represented.
Self-proclaimed “anti-Uber activist” Russell Howarth is seeking an injunction against “any smartphone software application” that lets “unaccredited persons” provide rides for a fare, saying breaches the private hire vehicles section of the Passenger Transport Act.
The case is separate to recent action by NSW Roads and Maritime Services to suspend the registration on 40 vehicles used as UberX vehicles for three months from October 1.
The AFR reports that Uber’s barrister, Bruce McClintock, SC, for Uber, argued that Howarth’s claim should be struck out because the “partner drivers” were not included in the case and it was asking the court to rule whether UberX drivers were committing a criminal offence.
Justice Sackar did not strike out the cross-claim, ruling instead that it would proceed as a quasi-class action with some UberX drivers joined as representative defendants on behalf all the others.
The full AFR story is here.
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