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Employment status: Tribunal may look beyond written agreement to determine true nature of agreement

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher and others [2011] IRLR 820 SC (1 other report)

    This decision from the Supreme Court, the highest court in the UK, is the leading decision on when tribunals and courts may look outside the terms of employment to determine the true nature of the agreement, where reality does not match the contractual position. It replaces previous narrower case law that suggested that a finding that a contract was in part a sham required that both parties intended it to “paint a false picture as to the true nature of their respective obligations”.

In Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher and others [2011] IRLR 820 SC, the Supreme Court held that the employment tribunal was entitled to find that a written contract between a car valeting company and its valeters stating that the valeters were independent contractors did not reflect the true agreement between the parties. The valeters had the legal status of employees.