Maurice Blackburn kits up for ‘epic’ Uber class-action clash

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Maurice Blackburn Lawyers is ready to face off with Uber in what it described as a class action of “epic” proportions.

On Friday, the firm filed its class action in the Victorian Supreme Court after 18 months of preparation. The case has the potential to be one of Australia’s biggest class actions, the firm said.

Andrew Watson, national head of class actions, said that Maurice Blackburn conducted public meetings across Australia with thousands of registered participants, as well as secured backing from major litigation funder Harbour, to prepare for the suit.

“Make no mistake, this will be a landmark case regarding the alleged illegal operations of Uber in Australia and the devastating impact that has had on the lives of hard-working and law-abiding citizens here,” Watson said. “The sheer scale of the case means it is shaping as one of the largest class actions in Australian history.”

“It is not acceptable for a business to place itself above the law and operate illegally to the disadvantage of others. We’ve got a strong case, a strong team, and substantial support from thousands of drivers, operators, and licence owners nationwide,” he said.

More than 6,000 participants have registered for the class action, which covers drivers, operators, and licence owners from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia.

Elizabeth O’Shea, senior associate, said that participants will not have out-of-pocket costs or liability risks, since the case's costs are underwritten by a third-party litigation funder.

“We have a proud history of running the nation’s largest and toughest class actions, and we believe that this is an important mechanism to pursue justice and compensation for those who have had their lives turned upside down by Uber’s alleged illegal operation,” O’Shea said.

“Uber sells the idea that it does things differently, but in reality and as we allege, this has meant operating unlawfully, using devious programs like ‘Greyball.’ All of this caused extensive loss and damage to law-abiding taxi and hire car drivers, operators and licence holders across the country,” she said. “Uber came in and exploited people by operating outside of regulations, and it was Uber’s conduct that led to horrible losses being suffered by our group members. For those reasons, we are targeting the multi-billion dollar company Uber and its associated entities to provide redress to those affected.”