IT contractor admits IR35 legal challenge now unlikely

The chance of a legal route to challenge IR35 in the public sector succeeding appears “increasingly dubious,” a campaigner has admitted.

In fact, as “every possible angle” has already been looked into by many others, Mike Gibson says his campaign looks “increasingly likely” to have “no grounds” for a legal challenge.

But the IT contractor reassured that the “legal route is only one avenue of action,” seeming to explain why he is now “discussing a challenge to the implementation of IR35 itself.”

'Other options'

Addressing campaign donors on Friday, he added: “If it transpires that there is no legal route that stands a realistic chance of success, no problem -- we simply move on to other options.

As I have said several times, I do not care how we get IR35 changed -- just as long as we do. Our route may change but the destination remains the same.”

For now however, much of the £11,500 in donated cash is going on a range of legal opinions; notably two corroborating opinions (independent of each other) per potential point of challenge.

'Testing'

“I am testing the complaints that we developed to see whether a legal opinion has been sought previously on the points of law that we had hoped to challenge.

“I do not want to waste your donations on pursuing a point of law if that point of law has already been considered”, said Gibson, boss of his own PSC, Ethical Consulting Ltd.

Should a legal point emerge with a “good chance of success” to challenge IR35 in the public sector (known as the off-payroll rules), a barrister will be put to work.

'Human impact'

But more pressingly, and amid his concern that previous challengers to IR35 “have been labelled tax-dodgers,” the contractor wants help to show the public the “human impact of IR35.”

I need your stories about how IR35 has impacted your livelihood and life,” he wrote on LinkedIn. “Tell me the details of your situation and tell me how it has affected [you]”.

Contractors who want to share their experience of IR35, with a view to inclusion in a publicity campaign Gibson aims to run, should do so in a MS Word document and email him.

'Persevere'

He also appealed to contractors to contact their local MP with their account of IR35’s impact.

“So many people and organisations have looked into every possible angle for legal challenge, only to have it unanimously dismissed by multiple and unanimous legal opinion.” But, the campaigner added, “the more stories we have, the more we can create a critical momentum of pressure. Thank you all for your enduring support. Persevere my friends -- we will get there.”

Aug 14, 2017