France : The Court of Cassation censures the Court of Appeal's decision to reclassify a contract of employment

Date of decision:

In a decision published on 13 April 2022, the social chamber of the Court of Cassation censured an appeal decision which had reclassified the contractual relationship between a VTC driver and the company Le Cab / Voxtur as an employment contract. The company Voxtur was placed in receivership in June 2020.
On 31 January 2015, a VTC driver signed a long-term vehicle rental contract with Voxtur, as well as a contract for membership of the computerised system developed by this company under the name "Le Cab". He brought the matter before the industrial tribunal after the company broke off the contractual relationship in March 2016.
The Court of Appeal ruled in his favour on 29 January 2020. The company appealed to the Court of Cassation.
The Court of Cassation based its decision on Article L.8221-6 of the Labour Code, according to which a self-employed person is presumed not to be employed, unless it can be proved that there is a subordinate relationship characterised by the power to give instructions, to control their execution and to sanction breaches. This relationship of subordination is assessed according to the "bundle of evidence" method.
The evidence found by the Court of Appeal was as follows the absence of freedom for drivers to choose their vehicle; the interdependence between the vehicle rental contract and the platform membership contract; the possibility for the principal to geolocate the drivers in real time, in order to be able to distribute the journeys in an optimised and efficient manner; permanent control of the driver's activity through the setting of the amount of the journeys by the principal; the establishment by the principal of invoices in the name and on behalf of the drivers and the ability to modify the price of the journeys upwards or downwards according to the timetable; a power of sanction characterised by the system of rating the drivers by the passengers.
The Court of Appeal had deemed this set of indicators sufficient to characterise an employment contract. The Court of Cassation overturned this decision on the grounds that these indicators do not allow for the qualification of a subordination link.
The Court of Cassation did not go back on its case law of 4 March 2020. It sets limits to the characterisation of powers of direction, control and sanction that may lead to the reclassification of the contractual relationship as an employment contract. This decision reminds us that the existence of a legal subordination relationship is based on a set of indicators assessed "in concreto".

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