Tilson v Alstom verdict has immense implications for IT Contractors



The Court of Appeal has decided to uphold the appeal verdict in the Tiltson v Alstom case.

This could have huge implications for contractors.

Courts have not really understood the relationship between agencies, contractors and clients.


In the original case the court mainly took into account the actual contractor‘s role rather than the agreement in the contract.

The court of appeal overturned this and now it has upheld this appeal.

So, that is good news for contractors.


The argument is whether there is really a contract between the client and the contractors and that the agency is a mere introducer – even if the contractor‘s contract is with the agency.

That is what the original verdict was all about but the courts have now decided that this is not the case.

It has been decided that if the agreement between contractor and agency defines the relationship then it is not necessary to invent and implied one with the client.


According to the Tilson contract, the client got the agency to find a contractor (the contractor‘s company) who then provided a worker to the end client which made the arrangement even more complicated.

Tilson started as a contractor working outside the client‘s internal system but gradually being integrated with it becoming a Line Manager and hiring staff and ended up working the same hours as employees.

When his contract was up he claimed that he had been unlawfully dismissed.


The original verdict said that an employment contract could be implied.

Alstom appealed against the verdict and it was overturned.

Mr Tilson appealed against that verdict and lost.


There were two counterbalancing arguments.

On the one hand, Tilson was acting just like an employee and being treated like one.

On the other hand the contract between Tilson and the agency pretty much covered all of this.

So, which argument was more powerful?

Good News

In the end they went for the second one as there was no need to invent an implied contract when there was a perfectly adequate contract between agency and contractor which covered everything and that as Tilson had no contract with Alstom he couldn‘t be their employee – and couldn‘t be sacked by them.

So, although this is bad news for Mr Tilson, it is good news for contractors who will be very relieved by this verdict.