Case Law: Introduction - Use of Case Law in Employment Status Work
Case law assists us in interpreting the facts and coming to a conclusion as to the nature of a particular contract. Over the years the courts have laid down a number of tests, conditions or indicia which should be considered as a whole in determining employment status. However, there is neither a single test nor a magic formula for determining the nature of a contract.
It is the principle established by a court in a particular case that is important as it may set a binding precedent. Even then the courts may restrict or widen the application of a principle established in an earlier case.
One thing the courts have consistently stressed is that every case must be decided on its own particular facts. (see Walls v Sinnett 60TC150 at ESM7130and Barnett v Brabyn at ESM7170). The courts have a habit of distinguishing one case from another on the facts.
If the facts are on all fours with a decided case, then that may be a good indicator of how the courts will decide but there is no certainty there. It is recommended that you should
- ascertain the facts
- interpret the facts using the principles established in reported cases
- then form an opinion on the worker’s employment status.