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Uber Settles Australian Lawsuit for $178 Million, Ending Taxi Operators’ Legal Battle

Uber has agreed to a settlement of A$271.8 million ($178 million) to resolve a lawsuit filed by Australian taxi operators and drivers, alleging financial losses incurred with Uber’s entry into the country’s market. Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, announcing the settlement on Monday, highlighted it as Australia’s fifth-largest.

The lawsuit, initiated in 2019 in the Supreme Court of Victoria state, represented over 8,000 taxi and hire car owners and drivers. They accused Uber of violating laws mandating licensing for taxis and hire cars. According to the plaintiffs, Uber’s arrival in 2012 diverted revenue from licensed taxi drivers and diminished the value of their licenses.

Uber maintained its stance, asserting it had never knowingly breached any laws. Despite the legal battle, Uber opted to settle. Maurice Blackburn Principal Michael Donelly remarked, “Uber fought tooth and nail at every point along the way,” adding, “After years of refusing to do the right thing by those we say they harmed, Uber has blinked.”

An Uber spokesperson mentioned the company’s contributions to state-level taxi compensation schemes since 2018, signaling the settlement as a step to put past issues behind them. However, specific settlement terms weren’t disclosed.

Former lawmaker and taxi driver Rod Barton, part of the class action, hailed the settlement as vindication. He reiterated his belief that Uber knowingly skirted the country’s taxi licensing regulations, gaining an unfair commercial advantage.

The legal landscape evolved in 2015, allowing Uber to operate without taxi licenses, while state governments initiated compensation schemes for affected taxi drivers and license holders. Despite this settlement, the case underscores the complexities and challenges inherent in the relationship between emerging technology companies and traditional industries.

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