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Taxi compensation ruled out, court told 
 
Wednesday, January 17, 2001


The Minister for the Environment is proposing a scheme of tax relief for holders of taxi licences but would not be providing compensation for the loss of the value of licences, the High Court was told yesterday.

Mr John Weafer, a principal officer at the Department of the Environment, said he also understood submissions could be made to the Government on "hardship" cases.

Mr Weafer was being cross-examined by Mr John Rogers SC, for the National Drivers Taxi Union (NDTU). The taxi-drivers are challenging a decision by the Minister of State at the Department, Mr Bobby Molloy, to deregulate the industry. 

Liberalisation of the taxi market was consumer-orientated and the decision to deregulate was forced on the Department following a High Court decision last October which rejected another licensing scheme introduced a year ago, Mr Weafer said.

The taxi-drivers have appealed the October decision to the Supreme Court. That appeal has yet to be heard.

Mr Justice Carney said the NDTU was making a case that the earlier licensing scheme rejected by the court in October was repealed by the Department following the court's decision that it was a "dead duck". The taxi-drivers were alleging the repeal was for the purpose of frustrating their Supreme Court appeal.

Mr Weafer denied that repeal of the earlier licensing proposal was done to frustrate the taxi-drivers' appeal. The decision was made following advice from the Attorney General, he said. The hearing continues today.

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