Uber will cough up almost $272 million to compensate taxi and hire car drivers who lost out when the rideshare company “aggressively” moved into the Australian market.

A class action against Uber was expected to go to trial in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday but Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said it would be abandoned after the rideshare giant agreed to the mammoth settlement.

It’s the fifth-largest class action settlement in Australia’s history and comes five “gruelling” years after the action on behalf of more than 8000 taxi and hire car owners and drivers was launched.

The drivers and car owners lost income and licence values because of Uber’s aggressive arrival into the market and the company tried to deny them compensation at every turn, Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Michael Donelly said.

“On the courtroom steps and after years of refusing to do the right thing by those we say they harmed, Uber has blinked, and thousands of everyday Australians joined together to stare down a global giant,” he said.

“We are extremely proud to have succeeded today in holding Uber to account, in securing … a $271.8 million sum that will finally put real money back into the accounts of people who have been devastated.”

An Uber spokesman described taxi and hire car drivers complaints, the subject of the class action, as “legacy issues”.

Ridesharing regulations did not exist anywhere in the world when the company started more than a decade ago.

Today, Uber is regulated in every Australian state and territory and governments recognise the company is an important part of the transport mix, the Uber spokesman said.

“The rise of ridesharing has grown Australia’s overall point-to-point transport industry, bringing with it greater choice and improved experiences for consumers, as well as new earnings opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Australian workers,” he said.

“Since 2018, Uber has made significant contributions into various state-level taxi compensation schemes, and with today’s proposed settlement, we put these legacy issues firmly in our past.

“We will continue focusing on helping the millions of Australians who use Uber get from A to B in a safe, affordable and reliable manner.”

The class action succeeded where other cases had failed, including some brought in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia against governments, Mr Donelly said.

The trial is due to be officially abandoned in court on Monday.

Source: AAP