Although the state government is yet to pass laws on the ride-sharing industry, a court ruling has taken Uber a step closer to winning its battle for legitimacy in Victoria.
The court battle revolved around a driver, Nathan Brenner, charged with operating a commercial passenger vehicle without authorisation. The charges were brought after Brenner, driving an Uber, accepted a booking that turned out to have been made by two taxi service commission investigators.
In December last year, Brenner was found guilty and fined $900. Although he appealed and Uber continued to operate, the ruling effectively made Uber illegal in the state.
This morning, the ruling, which is widely seen as a test case for ride sharing in Victoria, was dismissed by County Court Judge Geoff Chettle. As reported by the Herald Sun, defence lawyer Neil Clelland, QC, successfully argued that legislation which applied to commercial passenger vehicles excluded Uber arrangements.
“A number of the definitions ... are antiquated,” Mr Clelland said. “The legislation couldn’t contemplate or wouldn’t have been able to contemplate the so-called ‘Uber arrangements’.”
Needless to say, Uber Victoria’s general manager, Matt Denman, was delighted, and called on the state government to pass laws giving certainty to the industry.
“The Andrews Government needs to listen to the hundreds of thousands of Victorians who are choosing ride sharing every week and introduce sensible, safety-based regulations without delay,” Denman said.
The Herald Sun also reported Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan (who will be responsible for a decision on the industry) saying, “We need time to consider the Court’s findings”.
The Taxi Services Commission was ordered to pay costs for the County Court hearing.