Three taxi drivers are separately suing the government over claims their property rights were breached when the industry was deregulated.The High Court has heard that the drivers bought their taxi licence before deregulation in November 2000 and that the licence was then valued at IR£80,000, close to €100,000.
The taxi drivers are suing the Minister for the Environment and the Attorney General, as well as Dublin City Council and Ennis Town Council. The taxi drivers allege that their property rights under the Constitution were breached when the industry was deregulated in 2000.
Regulations introduced in late 2000, following a High Court action, provided that suitably qualified person would obtain a licence, effectively liberalising the market. Taxi drivers claim that the overnight deregulation scheme, wiped out the value of their licences. The taxi drivers claim that a scheme to compensate past and future losses was inadequate.
After deregulation, certain arrangement were put in place by the local authorities, mainly Dublin Corporation, now Dublin City Council, for a scheme of refunds in relation to taxi licence fees. The Finance Act 2001 also included additional "mitigating" measures, providing for a new scheme of capital allowances for expenditure incurred on the cost of taxi licences acquired on or before November 21, 2000.
It would appear that a significant number of taxi drivers await the outcome of these proceedings and if the High Court find in favour of the taxi drivers, there is expected to be an avalanche of similar claims to be taken against the Government.