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Platform Economy

The platform economy has grown rapidly in recent years. We have played a major part in advising a wide range of businesses in this sector.

Platforms let businesses create significant value by attracting, matching and connecting suppliers and customers, and enabling them to transact more efficiently than ever before. Whether this is in the form of an operating system or application store, a marketplace or exchange, a social network or a payment system, the platform business model represents an increasing opportunity for commercial growth and economic performance in the digital world in which we live.

This opportunity can of course give rise to significant legal risk, so it is key to understand and mitigate against those risks up front. Structuring the model requires navigating a range of issues such as:

  • the legal status of online intermediaries;
  • employee and worker status disputes;
  • personal data and information flows (under GDPR);
  • taxation;
  • consumer terms of business and identifying how any consumer cancellation, information and other rights can best be addressed;
  • managing online content;
  • protection of IP;
  • fundraising and venture capital;
  • third party supply risks; and
  • regulatory compliance and licensing issues.

From an employment perspective, the expansion of the “gig economy” is inherently connected - the demands of millennials (and others) for greater flexibility, the potential tax benefits of self-employment, key recent Court decisions and Government reviews have brought the issue of employment status to the top of many organisations’ agendas.

We at Lewis Silkin are at the forefront of this debate and well positioned to support all those involved in platform economies.

Related items

Colin Leckey writes for HR Magazine: Who’ll take the global edge in the gig economy?

16 July 2018

In an article for HR Magazine, Colin Leckey discusses the potential competitive advantage countries have attracting and retaining companies in the gig economy, if they strike the right balance between flexibility and security.

High Court dismisses Pimlico plumbers challenge to Deliveroo contract

15 June 2018

In the latest development regarding “worker status” and the “gig economy”, and applying this week’s earlier Supreme Court decision in Pimlico Plumbers, the High Court has rejected the Independent Workers of Great Britain trade union application for a judicial review of the Central Arbitration Committee’s decision that Deliveroo riders are not “workers” based on the terms of Deliveroo’s “substitution clause”.

Appeal judgment confirms Addison Lee cycle couriers are workers

17 May 2018

In the latest decision on employment status in the gig economy, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has dismissed an appeal by Addison Lee against an Employment Tribunal (“ET”) decision that its cycle couriers were “workers” and so entitled to holiday pay.

Lewis Silkin acted for Deliveroo in its successful defence of an application for trade union recognition by the IWGB union

16 November 2017

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) wanted Deliveroo to recognise it for collective bargaining purposes in respect of riders in Camden and Kentish Town. The application before the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) was heard over four days in May and June 2017. The CAC held that Deliveroo riders were not “workers” for the purposes of employment law, but self-employed independent contractors, and therefore the application failed.

Deliveroo defends union recognition application by demonstrating its riders are genuinely self-employed

15 November 2017

The Central Arbitration Committee (“CAC”) has rejected an application from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (“IWGB”) for collective bargaining rights in respect of Deliveroo riders, in a case in which Lewis Silkin acted for Deliveroo.

Uber’s worker status appeal rejected

06 September 2017

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has upheld the decision of an Employment Tribunal (“ET”) that drivers engaged by Uber are “workers” rather than independent contractors.

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