December 30, 2020

Federal Court Uber hearing transcript

Click here for the full transcript: Uber transcript

The Federal Court judges took a sceptical view of Uber’s contention that:

  • It was not involved in delivery work (J Bromberg: “Except Uber has a longstanding reputation, if you like, in the transport business”, “The very name Uber would convey to the ordinary person some form of transportation service; wouldn’t it?”)
  • It does not pay its drivers (Uber lawyer: “So, yes, physically the money – the money – physically, electronically, the money passes from the credit card of the customer into Uber’s hands before – and is then held by Uber. Uber deducts its service fee and pays the restaurant – the service fee that it charges the restaurant for the services that it has rendered in bringing the customer and the restaurant and the delivery partner together.”)
  • Its delivery drivers are neither employees nor independent contractors (J Bromberg: “is your case dependent upon the court finding that, not only is there not a relationship of employee between the worker and Uber, but also that there’s not a relationship of independent contractor between the worker and Uber.”
  • It has no idea what the relationship with them is J White: “Your client has drawn up this careful contract with all these provisions in it, and either does not have a view as to what is the correct characterisation of the relationship or is not willing to disclose it to this court.”)
  • Its drivers are independent contractors without businesses J Bromberg: “Well, that’s a question for legal characterisation. But you say that you can be an independent contractor and not have a business? I can understand if you said an independent contractor can be someone with a very simple business. But the facts here seem to be, and they seem to be accepted, that the applicant does not have a business. Can you be an independent contractor without a business?”
  • Its drivers have so little relationship to Uber that they can accept to deliver a meal and then steal it J Bromberg: “It’s a bit hard to imagine, Mr Neil – whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor, it’s just a bit hard to imagine that Uber would continue to provide tasks for a person who keeps absconding with the meal.”
  • That delivery riders can negotiate their fee with Uber – though only for a lower rate J White: “Who specifies the fee? Uber lawyer: “ In general terms, it’s specified, effectively, by Uber. But the delivery the capacity to negotiate a lower fee.”
  • Whether Uber’s efforts through its contracts to distance itself from its drivers actually bear out in reality J White: “Again, I’m just wondering whether we’re operating in the real world.”




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