In another important judgment relating to the rights of individuals who work in the gig economy, the Court of Appeal last week dismissed a claim brought by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) that Deliveroo drivers have an automatic right to seek compulsory union recognition.

This case originates from an application brought by the union to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for compulsory collective bargaining in respect of a unit of Deliveroo riders in North London.

THE CAC rejected the application (weekly LELR 555) as under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, a trade union can only apply for recognition in respect of a unit of “workers” as defined in section 296 of the Act. The CAC determined that the riders did not meet that definition as they were not required to personally perform services and they had a genuine and unfettered right to use a substitute.

The union then sought to judicially review that decision on the basis that it constituted a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights which affords a right to form and join trade unions. The High Court dismissed that claim and the matter was then pursued to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal has now dismissed the claim concluding that the protection afforded by article 11 was not so extensive when applied to Deliveroo drivers whom the CAC had concluded were not workers and therefore not in an “employment relationship”.

The Court of Appeal emphasised a distinction between the right to organise generally and the right to organise as a trade union and the fact the latter right need not be enjoyed by the self-employed, and that it was sufficient that they enjoyed other lesser forms of freedom of association. On this basis they found no breach of article 11 rights.

Neil Todd of Thompsons commented that: “The judgment is a disappointing one but tied to very specific facts. The importance of article 11 to worker rights remains vital and further case law will inevitably continue to shape the extent of the protection that this provision affords.”

Thompsons will provide a fuller summary of the decision in a future LELR.

You can read the judgment in full here.