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Uber loses crucial test case

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Victorian Uber driver Nathan Brenner has been convicted of driving a hire car without a commercial licence or registration in a landmark case.

The decision, brought down on Friday morning, is the first to set a precedent effectively rendering Uber illegal in Victoria.

Brenner first faced court in October over the charges, and was today fined $900.

He refused to sign a good behaviour bond.

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A representative for Uber told The New Daily that the company would continue to support Mr Brenner in an appeal, and any other of Victoria’s 6,000 UberX drivers.

“We are disappointed in the outcome of today’s hearing,” they said.

“It is important to acknowledge that this matter is related to one individual and the unique circumstances of his case.

“It is widely acknowledged that the current legislation could not have contemplated technology such as Uber. The legislation clearly needs to be updated.

“Uber will continue to operate in Victoria.”

The case was the first of 13 cases being brought by the Taxi Services Commission.

In October, the High Court upheld a ruling allowing the commission to pursue criminal charges in a test case against Brenner, a former manager for the rock band Split Enz.

Also in October, the company lost a case in which it argued Uber drivers should be exempted from charging customers GST because it is not ­licensed by state and territory regulators.

Brenner’s case was drawn out after Uber lawyers attempted to prove he was entrapped by commission regulators.

The ramifications of the decision will not affect Uber Black, the more expensive and regulated subsidiary of Uber.

In New South Wales, 24 similar cases were thrown out of court due to “evidentiary issues” earlier this year.

In September, the ACT government announced it would legalise the app, causing Victorians to implore premier Daniel Andrews to do the same.

“In some respects technology has got ahead of the law and we need to update that, and the [transport] minister has been working very diligently to achieve that outcome,” Mr Andrews said ambiguously at the time.

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