Legal Business Blogs

Tribunal rules against Uber as Leigh Day takes on DLA Piper in landmark employee rights case

Uber has said it will appeal after it lost a key tribunal case which saw Leigh Day take on DLA Piper in a landmark employment rights claim.

Leigh Day represented Uber drivers on a case calling for drivers to be entitled to national minimum wage and basic holiday pay in a ruling that could affect tens of thousands of drivers. The tribunal ruled the drivers are not self-employed and are entitled to basic employee rights.

The human rights specialist firm acted for the drivers in the case brought by the GMB Union. Lawyer Annie Powell represented the drivers, instructing Thomas Linden QC of Matrix Chambers.

DLA advised Uber on the case, with a team led by UK head of employment Adam Hartley and including Jonathan Ollivent, who is secondment with from DLA. DLA instructed Littleton Chambers David Reade QC to act for the ridehailing company.

The action was launched on 19 July and heard over six days. The Central London Employment Tribunal heard cases brought by the GMB Union.

The claim against Uber could have wide implications for a range of workers in industry sectors in what has become known as the ‘gig economy’. There are as many as 30,000 Uber drivers in London this year, according to Uber’s chief executive. Leigh Day said the drivers had claimed Uber had acted unlawfully by deducting sums from drivers’ pay.

Uber, whose legal team is led by GC Powerlist member Matt Wilson (pictured) is facing another legal battle with Transport for London (TfL) over the latest guidelines brought in for private hire cars that would introduce stricter rules on the company. Hogan Lovells partner Paul Dacam instructed Blackstone Chambers’ Tom de la Mare QC to advise on the challenge. TfL is being represented by its in-house team and instructed Martin Chamberlain QC of Brick Court on the matter.

Uber regional general manager Jo Bertram said: ‘Tens of thousands of people in London drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss. The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want. While the decision of this preliminary hearing only affects two people we will be appealing it.’

Read the full judgment here.