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HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

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Case Law: Walls v Sinnett

1986 case - 60TC150

Point at issueWhether a lecturer was engaged under a contract of service or a contract for services.

FactsMr Walls had been a professional singer and had taught at a London University college. He successfully applied for a full-time lecturing post at a college in Liverpool and was told that his duties would occupy 30 hours a week, 10 sessions of three hours spread over a five-day week, for 39 weeks in each academic year. Later he received a letter from the Director of Education for the City of Liverpool setting out the terms of his appointment.

DecisionIn the High Court, Vinelott J. concluded that there were no grounds for overturning the Commissioners’ finding that the contract was a contract of service.

CommentaryMr Walls sought to compare his case to that of Mr Argent in the case of Argent v Ministry of Social Security [1968] 3AER208 but Vinelott J. stated:

“It is in my judgment, quite impossible in a field where a very large number of factors have to be weighed to gain any real assistance by looking at the facts of another case and comparing them one by one to see what facts are common, what are different and what particular weight is given by another tribunal to the common facts. The facts as a whole must be looked at, and what may be compelling in one case in the light of all the facts may not be compelling in the context of another case.”The principle reinforced here is that each case must be looked at in the light of its own particular facts. You cannot just read across from one case to another where the facts are similar and argue that the employment status is necessarily the same in both cases.