Three taxi drivers who challenged the deregulation of the taxi market in 2000 have lost their case in the High Court.

The drivers argued that the sudden deregulation of the market had reduced the value of taxi plates from over £100,000 to almost nothing, leaving some with significant debt.

If their case had succeeded, it could have cost the State €360 million in compensation claims.

In 2000, the then government deregulated the taxi market, meaning the value of a taxi plate fell dramatically from up to £120,000.

Drivers who had borrowed to pay for the plates were left carrying significant debt.

Three took a case against the State, arguing that the manner of deregulation had been disproportionate.

Had they won, the total compensation claim would have come to €360m  - as the case would have affected almost €1,300 other drivers.

However, today in the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Peart dismissed their case.

The judge apologised for the two-year delay in issuing a judgment, noting that the case had involved up to 13 boxes of documents, and 30 days of evidence in the High Court.

Afterwards, former president of the National Taxi Drivers Union Tommy Gorman said that their legal team would consider the 140-page ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

Asked about the drivers' liability for the State's costs running into millions, he said he could not see how people who were still paying back on worthless assets could pay them - and hoped the courts would take that into consideration. 

The court will consider outstanding matters including costs on 15 November.