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The government just avoided a €360 million payout over taxis

Three men have lost their High Court case.

Image: Wanderley Massafelli/RollingNews.ie

THREE TAXI DRIVERS have lost a High Court challenge to the deregulation of the market in 2000.

Success in the case could have cost the State €360 million in compensation claims.

The three men, Alphonsus Muldoon, Thomas Kelly and Vincent Malone, argued that the State’s decision to reduce the cost of taxi licences from over £100,000 to virtually nothing left drivers with significant debt.

The case would have affected 1,300 drivers, each paying up to  €120,000 each.

Today in the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Peart dismissed their case.

He apologised for the two-year delay in delivering a judgment, noting the massive amount of evidence, adding that the three men had argued that the councils’ regulation of taxi licences was not a commercial activity.

In a 140-page judgment, Mr Justice Peart said:

While the plaintiffs submit that the evidence has established that the individual taxi licence holders…were intended to be protected by the 1978 Regulations in the sense that the powers given to local authorities were required to be exercised in a way which protected their interests, I can find nothing in the statutory scheme read as a whole, or even in part, which confirms that to be the case.

He added that the plaintiffs had to establish that local authorities had “clearly failed” to prove that councils having the power to issue licences was intended to protect those who bought licences before deregulation.

“I cannot accept that such a far-fetched and contrived statutory duty is evinced by the 1978 Regulations or any other regulation that makes up the quantitative restrictions regulations.”

RTÉ quotes former president of the National Taxi Drivers Union Tommy Gorman as saying drivers would take the judgment into consideration and hope that the court will take into consideration the debt many taxi drivers are carrying when assessing costs.

The court will sit again next month.

Read: Couple sue after being ‘loudly and abusively accused of not having paid bill’

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