Bates Wells represent Uber drivers in landmark case in the Court of Appeal

Ground-breaking gig economy case set to have a significant impact on the rights of 2.8 million


On 30 and 31 October London law firm, Bates Wells, will represent the lead Claimants in their landmark Court of Appeal (CoA) case against global transportation provider, Uber.

The CoA hearing, follows last year’s ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in favour of Mr Farrar and Mr Aslam.

In its judgment the EAT upheld the original 2016 ruling by the Employment Tribunal which stated that both claimants have “worker” status, and should therefore be afforded a suite of basic rights including the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay.

This case has been dubbed: “The biggest legal crisis facing Uber” (Wired Magazine 2018).

The lawyers who are acting for the claimants in the CoA case are Paul Jennings, partner and Rachel Mathieson, associate, in Bates Wells’ Employment team.

In the run-up to the CoA hearing Paul Jennings, partner, Bates Wells, said:

Uber has acquired a dominant position within the market incredibly quickly. It has a fleet of over 40,000 drivers in London alone. A key issue in this case is whether Uber has mischaracterised the employment status of its fleet and in so doing failed to observe fundamental employment rights. The financial implications of this Judgment could be very significant.”

The Judge at first instance criticised Uber’s use of “fictions” and “twisted language” in its contractual documentation. The ruling of the tribunal was ethically and legally the right outcome. It cannot be right that – through carefully crafted contracts – Uber avoids minimum legal standards relating to pay and annual leave.

Rachel Mathieson, Associate, Bates Wells, said:

The consequences of this case are likely to be highly significant for not just tens of thousands of Uber drivers but millions of workers in the gig economy so we are extremely proud to be advising the Claimants in this matter.”

“Commercial and technological innovation should be embraced but it can and must be underpinned by respect for established worker rights.

The policy which led to the creation of the intermediate class of ‘workers’ was to protect those who cannot be considered to be sufficiently independent to look after themselves. This must still be relevant in our evolving labour market.” If you would like to request an interview with Paul Jennings or Rachel Mathieson, please contact:


Notes for Editors

  • Paul Jennings successfully represented Margaret Dewhurst in her law suit against another gig employer, CitySprint. As a result of the CitySprint case, the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that Dewhurst should be classified as a worker – a ruling that represents another significant milestone in the field of employment law.
  • Bates Wells instructed Jason Galbraith Martin QC and Sheryn Omeri (of Cloister Chambers) to represent the Claimants.
  • Bates Wells, founded in 1970, is a professional services firm that works for a wide range of businesses, social enterprises, charities, institutions, public bodies and high-profile individuals, across a variety of sectors. The breadth and quality of our work is acknowledged by the UK’s two independent directories, Legal 500 and Chambers UK, in 21 areas.
  • In 2015 Bates Wells became the first UK law firm to be awarded B Corporation (B Corp) status.
  • In June 2014, Bates Wells became the first City of London based law firm to be granted an alternative business structure (ABS) license specifically to provide a unified service to our clients. This transition confirms our ambition to be the advisors of choice in the rapidly developing arena of impact investing and social value, and reinforces BWB’s reputation for innovation in the legal and advisory marketplace.
  • Bates Wells has over 250 staff and 38 partners, which means that we are large enough to provide a complete range of commercial legal services yet small enough to be able to provide a personal service to every client.
  • Bates Wells was one of the first law firms in the UK to be accredited as a Living Wage employer.

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of October 29, 2018.