Plastic Omnium Automotive Limited v Horton [2023] EAT 85

Appeal against a conclusion that the Claimant was a worker. Appeal allowed.

Before the ET, the Claimant had contended that he was an employee within the meaning of section 230(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, alternatively, a worker. The Respondent contended that the Claimant was neither a worker nor an employee. Further, the Respondent contended that the contract between the parties was void for illegality. The ET found that the written agreement between the Respondent and service companies operated by the Claimant and through which he (and another individual) were supplied to the Respondent reflected the true agreement between the parties and concluded that the Claimant was a worker, but that he was not an employee. Further, the Judge held that neither the contract, nor its performance, was illegal. The Judge found that the Respondent had unlawfully deducted wages from the Claimant and awarded the Claimant the sum of £28,500. The Respondent pursued two grounds of appeal. First, that the Judge erred by failing to explain how mutuality of obligation arose in the absence of a contract between the Claimant and Respondent, failing to consider whether the Respondent was in the position of “the Claimant’s employer”. Secondly, it was submitted that the Judge ignored, or, impermissibly pierced, the corporate veil.

The EAT allowed the appeal. The ET had concluded that there was a contract in existence pursuant to which the Claimant provided services, personally, to the Respondent. In addition, the Judge concluded that that contract reflected the reality of the agreement between the parties. What the Judge did not do, however, was to consider who the parties were to that agreement. The agreement was not between the Claimant and the Respondent but the Judge dismissed the relevance of that issue.

Published: 19/07/2023 12:48

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