Whether a freelance vision mixer was engaged under a series of contracts of service or assessable under Schedule D as a person in business on his own account.
The following is a summary of the basic facts:
The Court of Appeal concluded that Mr Lorimer was engaged under contracts for his services and therefore self-employed.
The Court of Appeal did not think it was appropriate just to apply the test or indicia set out by Cooke J. in the Market Investigations case (see ESM7040). Nolan L.J. agreed with the views expressed by Mummery J. in the High Court where he said:
“In order to decide whether a person carries on business on his own account it is necessary to consider many different aspects of that person’s work activity. This is not a mechanical exercise of running through items on a check list to see whether they are present in, or absent from, a given situation. The object of the exercise is to paint a picture from the accumulation of detail. The overall effect can only be appreciated by standing back from the detailed picture which has been painted, by viewing it from a distance and by making an informed, considered, qualitative appreciation of the whole. It is a matter of evaluation of the overall effect, which is not necessarily the same as the sum total of the individual details. Not all details are of equal weight or importance in any given situation. The details may also vary in importance from one situation to another.
The process involves painting a picture in each individual case.”
The point to be drawn from this is that, having obtained all the
relevant information, the object is to stand back and determine
employment status on the basis of an overall view. It is not just a
question of adding up the relevant factors for and against a
particular employment status. Rather what you have to do is make a
subjective judgment based on your overall assessment taking account
of the different weights which apply to individual factors in the
Where there are many short-term engagements, Hall v Lorimer also indicates that it is necessary to consider the personal factors that exist outside the terms of the direct contractual relationship the worker has with the engager for the specific engagement being considered. For example,
However, it should be remembered that Nolan L.J. accepted that
“an employment properly so called is not the less an
employment because it is casual rather than regular”. In some
instances therefore the overall picture may point to self-
employment whereas in others it may point to a single umbrella
employment or a series of casual employments.
On the subject of provision of equipment it should be noted that in the High Court Mummery J stated
“The Crown’s submission emphasised two particular points. First, the fact that Mr Lorimer has not provided any of the very expensive equipment necessary for the exercise of the skill of a vision mixer. Secondly, the fact that all Mr Lorimer provided was his personal skill. These facts do undoubtedly point to a contract of service, but they are not necessarily inconsistent with a contract for services, so as to make the Special Commissioners’ decision an impossible or a perverse one.”
This was contrary to the view taken by the Special Commissioner. In the Court of Appeal Nolan LJ did not comment on this aspect in his judgment.