Earlier this month, Tone Deaf reported on a landmark case currently going before a Victorian court involving an unexpected Australian music industry figure. Long story short: next time you take an Uber, ask your driver which band he manages.
As The Herald Sun reports, a former manager of legendary Antipodean rock groups Split Enz and Men At Work is embroiled in a landmark legal battle that could make or break the controversial ride sharing service Uber.
Former music manager Nathan Brenner is one of 13 Uber drivers charged by the Taxi Services Commission with operating a commercial passenger vehicle without a license after being caught in a sting operation last August.
Obviously concerned that a potential prosecution could end the company’s ability to operate in the lucrative Australian market where the service is becoming increasingly popular, Uber has drafted a high-power law firm to defend the accused drivers.
Brenner, a Caulfield North native, is the first Uber driver to be brought before a Victorian court and things recently got heated when Brenner had an angry outburst inside the court room, according to The Herald Sun.
Brenner apparently took exception to the fact that the Taxi Service Commission tried to hand him paperwork related to new charges whilst he was inside the court room already facing charges related to driving for Uber.
“I’m not listening to you. I can’t hear anything you are saying,” he reportedly said, with his head looking the other way as the TSC investigator read out the charges. “This is improper conduct,” he added.
Brenner repeatedly told the investigator “I’m not listening to you”, though it’s unclear if he did so while sticking his fingers in his ears and shaking his head with his eyes closed.
High profile defence barrister Peter Haag criticised the prosecution and the TSC over how the charges were laid, saying a service should be effected in a “a proper way and not in the way this has been done”.
“I have never seen it happen in 30 years inside a courtroom,” Mr Haag told The Herald Sun. Magistrate Julian Ayres said it was “disappointing” the case had to be halted to discuss how the new charges were laid.
Uber is a California-based ride sharing company that allows drivers to take passenger bookings in their personal vehicles. However, the service has attracted criticism from the taxi driving community for taking away their business.
The TSC, the taxi industry watchdog, has been fining drivers $1,700 with Uber covering the fines and Brenner’s lawyer. If Brenner is found guilty, it could set a precedent that would effectively deem Uber illegal.