The Uber judgment is nonsense

3 mins. to read
The Uber judgment is nonsense

I was surprised by the Uber judgement. After all, the taxi drivers put up their own capital and work their own hours. So I asked a longstanding tax expert whom I know. His reply is instructive:

“The UBER judgment is nonsense unless, which is not improbable, our trendy and light-on-law modern day judiciary decide to change the notion of a contract of service for political reasons. Employment used to imply a post with a regular place of work, regular hours etc.

Of course, I have not read the UBER contract and it may be that it is clumsy. I would have thought the best way they could have approached the matter is to licence drivers to use their software and to pay fees based on revenue. This would not amount to a contract of service.

A friend, now aged 80+, is a chartered accountant and the doyen of lap-top dancers’ accounting (he acts for over 140 of them!). A case, a few years ago, held that they were self-employed even though the clubs they work for control their work very strictly.”

The result of the Uber case is that the wasteful old-fashioned drivers, who are self-employed, are around 15%, or more, cheaper simply because of differences in the rates of direction taxation that apply to them. They therefore enjoy a pricing advantage which beneficial economic change should not allow.


I have increased my target price for REA (LON:RE.) to 750p. The bid may take quite a while. I bought another 23,000 last week.


Betting companies revisited: Some readers may recall my barmy spat with William Hill about four months ago. Essentially, I paid them £5,000 for a bet to win £50,000. It won and my account was credited with £55,000. I think you will agree that the money can only have been accrued legitimately to me and as a result of my cash. But Hills demanded proof of my identity before agreeing to pay out – it should be understood that I had my first bet with Hills when I was sixteen years old. I am now seventy. So I put it down to a mad man at Hills who, newly promoted to authority, decided to waste everybody’s time.

However, I am not now so sure. For word reaches me that a Mr Clever Clogs found himself due c. £150,000 as a result of a bet on a Premier League football team. The manager of this particular betting company (not Hills – with whom I have settled my differences) telephoned Mr Clogs and asked him for the names of the players in the winning team. Mr Clogs said he did not know. The Manager said that that was proof that Mr Clogs was not placing the bet for himself but for Mr Big Hidden Boots. (No, I could not work this out either.) Therefore, said the Manager, no payout could be made.

Nonetheless the Manager must have known that his attitude was mad and, a few days later, he cannot have been surprised to receive a writ (the court fee for the High Court is now £10,000 if you please). You might have thought that the Manager would then have coughed up. But, au contraire, he changed his defence plea from the proposition that Mr Clogs was placing a bet on Mr Big Hidden Boots’s behalf to the claim that Mr Clogs was engaging in money-laundering. This enables the Manager to call for Mr Clogs’s bank statements at which point it could be possible to check whether Mr Clogs might have been betting for AN Other – an activity banned by the betting company’s rules. This probably is one of the rules that Mr Clogs signed up to. This is going to cause chaos – after all Mr Clogs might argue that he was giving a bet to Mr Big Hidden Boots against his own position. I’ll keep you informed.


Thursday last week’s Master Investor ran an article by Nick Sudbury on New Star Investment Trust (LON:NSI), a feature of John Duffield’s declining years. If you haven’t already studied this I assure you that it is well worth a read.

Comments (2)

  • ed martin says:

    I had thought that bets weren’t enforceable contracts – so are the bookies using the allegation ‘money laundering’ in the same way that US agencies use RICO law?

    Its unfortunate that it leaves the onus of proof (most often I guess of nothing at all) on the punter and the threat that his personal affairs will be publicly aired.

    Very much against our tradition of privacy and of limiting legal procedure to evidence to directly relevant evidence.

  • Mike Withy says:

    This commentary indicates that using a longstanding tax expert with no understanding of employment law to comment on employment law cases is about as good as asking the guy next to you in the pub for an informed comment. Oh, except that this is not an informed comment – it’s just an abusive comment.
    I suggest that, if you revisit the subject, you take ten minutes to read up on how employment tribunals work. Or, if you really want to understand the decision, read it here:
    You will see that it contains detailed analysis of the terms of the Uber contract in the normal way when a decision is being made about the terms of a contract.

    If your chum disagrees with the decision for political reasons, I suggest he provides a political analysis rather than simply heaping generalised and uninformed abuse on the English judiciary.
    Stands to reason, doesn’t it?

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