Wednesday 28 September 2016

Three taxi drivers who failed in legal bid over deregulation of taxi industry face massive legal costs

Tim Healy

Published 21/01/2016 | 10:55

Alphonsus Muldoon and Vincent Malone sued the Minister for Environment
Alphonsus Muldoon and Vincent Malone sued the Minister for Environment

THREE cab drivers who failed in a legal challenge to the deregulation of the taxi industry in 2000 face a huge legal costs bill following an order of the High Court.

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Mr Justice Michael Peart, who heard the case for more than 30 days, today awarded costs against the three, which are expected to run into the millions.

The judge granted their counsel a 28-day on the costs order in the event of an appeal.

Alphonsus Muldoon and Vincent Malone sued the Minister for Environment

and Local Government, Dublin City Council, and the State while Thomas Kelly sued the Minister, Ennis Town Council and the State. Theirs were test cases for more than 1,100 similar claims by taxi drivers.

The three sought damages and declaratory orders claiming that because the Minister and/or the local authorities permitted a licensing regime to operate as it did over so many years, they suffered immediate and significant losses as a result of overnight deregulation and

liberalisation of the market.

Mr Muldoon and Mr Kelly claimed the Minister and the State acted beyond his powers by delegating the role of deciding on the number of licences to the local authorities and in breach of their right to earn a livelihood and their constitutional rights.

Mr Muldoon also sought declarations including that the City Council acted contrary to competition law and that the defendants, or some of them, had been unjustly enriched as a result of the regulatory regime operated and/or approved by them.

The defendants denied the claims.

Last October, Mr Justice Peart ruled the claims made by all three men must be dismissed.

Dealing with the costs issue, he declined to certify for two senior counsel for the State and Dublin City Council after lawyers argued a great deal of work had had to be put into the matter which was important not just for the taxi sector but for the whole of the regulated industries.

The judge said the issue of whether there should be costs for two senior counsel was within the power of the the Taxing Master, who decides what level of costs there should be where there is a dispute about them. While it was a long case, that issue will be a matter for the Taxing Master and his order would remain silent in relation to it.

Press Association

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