Taxi owners lose bid for rideshare compo

HUNDREDS of Queensland taxi licence holders have lost a bid for compensation and damages from the State Government, over losses resulting from rideshare operations.

However, a Supreme Court judge has allowed Queensland Taxi Licence Holders to replead a damages claim under Australian Consumer Law within 28 days.

That claim is only for relief for those who bought their taxi licences directly from the State Government.

Solicitor John Maitland, for more than 900 taxi licence holders, said they were considering an appeal against Justice Bradley's decision to strike out an equitable compensation claim.

Justice Thomas Bradley on Friday gave judgment to the State of Queensland, also striking out the taxi licence holders' claim for damages for breach of contract.

They had claimed for loss of earnings, including future earnings, because of the State permitting ride booking operators, such as Uber, to conduct business.

After a hearing six months ago, Justice Bradley found the taxi licence holders had no real prospect of success at trial on two of their three claims.

The taxi rank in Albert Street in Brisbane. Picture: Tara Croser.
The taxi rank in Albert Street in Brisbane. Picture: Tara Croser.

Queensland's taxi licence holders paid more than $200,000 and in some cases more than $500,000 for their individual licences.

Mr Maitland said the part of the law that dealt with fairness and justice was not black and white and the legal team would carefully consider the judgment in view of a possible appeal.

Mr Maitland said banks were now going after many taxi licence holders, who had borrowed against their homes to buy licences that had been devalued by rideshare operations.

It was alleged the taxi licence holders suffered losses because the State did not require ride booking drivers and operators to pay for and obtain a taxi licence or abide by taxi rules.

Justice Bradley said the licence holders' case about taxi licence agreements was contradicted by the Act upon which it was based.

Queensland taxi license operators have lost a bid for compensation over rideshare operations. Picture: Jodie Richter.
Queensland taxi license operators have lost a bid for compensation over rideshare operations. Picture: Jodie Richter.

The taxi licence operators' prospect of success on the breach of contract claim was "fanciful", Justice Bradley said.

The licence holders had argued for equitable compensation based on alleged State representations that they would only need to compete with others who held taxi licence privileges.

They had partly relied on statements made by some Ministers.

But Judge Bradley said the taxi licence holders must have accepted that there was an inherent risk of changes in the law at some future date

"The 'rights' of a taxi licence holder were limited and not exclusive," Justice Bradley said.

There were always others, including operators of bus services, tourist and limousine services, that could carry passengers by road for reward, the judge said.

The licence holders also claim that the State contravened sections of the Australian Consumer Law and it was unconscionable conduct.

Judge Bradley struck out some paragraphs of the claim, but allowed it to be repleaded.

Originally published as Taxi owners lose bid for rideshare compo



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