By Aurélien Louvet Partner - France Capstan Avocats Julien Aunis Capstan Avocats
The Paris Court of Appeal has confirmed that delivery riders are independent contractors and not employees. This article provides details of the ruling.
In a ruling of 7 April 2021, the Paris Court of Appeal has confirmed the position it took previously in favour of Deliveroo in November 2017, rejecting a delivery driver’s request to have his contract reclassified as an employment contract.
The delivery rider, who had already lost his case at first instance (the Conseil de Prud’hommes de Paris), argued that both the contractual and the performance conditions of the relationship were characteristic of a permanent legal relationship of subordination.
In particular, he claimed that the requalification of his contract should be quasi-automatic pursuant to the rulings handed down by the social chamber of the Court of Cassation in November 2018 (Cass., soc., 28 Nov. 2018, No. 17-20079, Take Eat Easy, see here) and March 2020 (Cass. soc., 4 March 2020, n°19-13316, Uber, see here)
The Paris Court of Appeal, through an in-depth analysis of the terms of the contract, the conditions of performance of the service and the elements submitted for debate by the parties, ruled out any permanent legal subordination link and therefore the existence of an employment contract.
It based its decision on the fact that the delivery rider have:
- the freedom to choose whether or not to perform services according to their own convenience;
- the possibility of collaborating with other platforms, which was the case in this instance for the delivery partner, who collaborated with several platforms directly competing with Deliveroo;
- the ability to subcontract their delivery services.
The Court also ruled out the following as indications of a legal subordination link between platform and driver:
- the granting of free insurance which is, according to the Court, only constitutes an ‘improvement’ of the service provider’s ‘material situation’;
- the existence of a geolocation system which it considered ‘inherent to the service requested’.
More generally, the Court considered that the elements put forward by the rider in support of his claims were not characteristic a situation of control, with the instructions and sanctions specific to an employment contract. Rather, they were inherent to any commercial relationship that requires monitoring of the proper execution of the service provided.
The Paris Court of Appeal drew on its similar reasoning in the Tok Tok Tok cases of 8 October 2020. The Lyon Court of Appeal drew the same conclusion on 15 January 2021 in favour of Uber.
These decisions are consistent with the Order issued by the European Court of Justice on 22 April 2020 (see here).
The judges have therefore reiterated the following legal rule:
- A self-employed worker for a digital platform is in principle not an employee.
- In order for the worker’s contract to be requalified as an employment contract, s/he must provide evidence of the existence of a situation of permanent legal subordination.
- This evidence of subordination cannot be based on general elements that are not specifically applicable to his or her individual situation or that are inherent to any commercial relationship with a digital platform.