Taxi drivers sue state over rideshares
MORE than 900 taxi licence holders have begun legal action against the State Government, seeking fair compensation for the impact of rideshare operations in Queensland.
The Supreme Court claim by a group of 956 taxi licence holders, representing 1350 licences, said most had invested a large part of their personal wealth into licence fees and operations.
Many had taken out loans secured against their homes, the claim said.
The claim says the State Government engaged in unconscionable conduct, by receiving fees for taxi licences, while allowing rideshare businesses to operate in the taxi industry.
The taxi licence holders are seeking equitable compensation, damages for breach of contract and damages under Australian Consumer Law.
Lawyer John Maitland said outside court the claimants' licences were worth a total of about $513 million, with some individuals paying more than $500,000 for a taxi licence.
Although the claim does not specify an amount, Mr Maitland said they would potentially seek hundreds of millions of dollars from the State, to be assessed on a fair value for each licence.
"These are all Mums and Dad investors who have lost everything in respect of the value in their licences,'' Mr Maitland said.
"A lot of these people have borrowed against property to buy these licences ... but the banks don't forgive anybody. Now some people in their mid 80s are being thrown out of houses.''
Taxi licence holders and taxi operators assumed and expected they had an exclusive right to carry passengers for reward, subject to restrictions, regulations and controls, the claim says.
The licence holders claim the government breached its duty to them by allowing rideshare operations in Queensland since April, 2014 and legally since 2017.
The Government offered taxi licence holders compensation of $20,000 per licence, capped at two licences per holder.
But the State allegedly allowed rideshare drivers to exercise many of the rights previously held only by licenced taxi drivers, without them having to comply with rules and regulations.
The State had acted in breach of the rights and entitlements of taxi licence holders, who were entitled to equitable compensation, the claim said.
Gary Pascoe, who spent 20 years in the taxi industry and still owns leased licences, said many people had "worked their hearts out'' for years and now their licences were worthless.
"I paid approximately $520,000 for a licence about five years ago and I believe one has been sold recently for about $60,000,'' Mr Pascoe said.
Counsel for the State Government yesterday told the court it had only received an amended statement of claim yesterday. The State is yet to file a response.