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Australian taxi drivers sue Uber over 'illegal operations'

Australian taxi drivers sue Uber over 'illegal operations'

Lawsuit brought on behalf of 6000 drivers and taxi license owners

A law firm has filed a class action against Uber on behalf of thousands of taxi and chartered drivers in Australia, accusing the world's largest ride-hailing company of operating illegally and harming them financially.

The lawsuit, filed at the Victoria Supreme Court by law firm Maurice Blackburn, was brought on behalf of about 6000 drivers and taxi licence owners from across four Australian states, the lawyers said in a statement.

"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," Andrew Watson, Maurice Blackburn national head of Class Actions, said in a statement.

An Uber spokeswoman said the company was not aware of the class action.

"We have not received any notification of a class action," she said in an emailed statement. "We are focusing our efforts on delivering a great service to riders and drivers in the cities where we operate."

The damages being sought could be "in the hundreds of millions of dollars", but would be determined as part of the case or settlement negotiations, a Maurice Blackburn spokesman said.

Uber has proved popular with the Australian public, even in the face of resistance from the taxi industry and local authorities.

The lawyers allege Uber knew its operations in Australia were illegal for a number of reasons, including that it "adopted a policy to operate in any market where the regulator had tacitly approved doing so by failing to take direct enforcement action."

The loss-making ride hailing firm is planning to list in the United States at a valuation of up to US$91.5 billion in an initial public offering.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Sonali Paul)

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