A former UK cop turned vigilante, who was last month ordered to stop undertaking citizen’s arrests on Uber drivers, is now trying to have the hire car service’s discount arm, UberX, banned in New South Wales.
Russell Howarth was targeting “unlicensed” UberX drivers for months, before Uber successfully obtained an injunction from the Supreme Court preventing him from doing so.
In response, lawyers acting on behalf of Mr Howarth and the Australian Taxi Drivers Association (ATDA) filed a cross-claim, seeking an injunction that would have UberX declared illegal across the state.
David Taylor of Turner Freeman Lawyers, the firm acting on Mr Howarth’s behalf, said in a statement the case was seeking to end the legal grey area that Uber had operated in for the past year.
He said the cross-claim would focus on the lawfulness or otherwise of Uber’s operations, rather than the actions of individual drivers.
“Our cross-claim will contend that the UberX service is responsible for allowing or aiding unaccredited people to carry out a passenger service for a fare, which is in breach of section 37 of the Passenger Transport Act,” Mr Taylor said.
“UberX has operated for more than a year despite overwhelming legal opinion that drivers are in breach of existing NSW legislation.”
Uber questioned the credibility of the cross-claim, pointing to Mr Howarth’s financial status.
“Mr Howarth is an undischarged bankrupt who has no legal right to bring this claim,” the company said in a statement to the ABC.
“The case is actually about the illegality of what Mr Howarth has been doing.”
Turner Freeman Lawyers insisted Mr Howarth’s financial status did not preclude him taking this legal action, adding there were other parties involved, including ATDA, which were not undischarged bankrupts.
UberX, which allows people book rides with approved drivers using a smartphone app, is the subject of other court cases around the country.
In Victoria, Uber is challenging the legality of undercover stings that resulted in a dozen UberX drivers being caught by the Taxi Services Commission.
The ride-sharing giant is also trying to overturn in the Federal Court an Australian Taxation Office order that its drivers pay the GST.
The order came into effect on Friday with customers slugged an extra 10 per cent for each fare.
More news on Uber via abc.net.au:
- Making UberX legal will ‘create jobs’ in SA
- Lack of taxi competition costing $40m a year, report says
- Uber launches legal challenge to overturn ATO’s directive that obliges GST payments
- NSW drops prosecutions against Uber drivers
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