IR35 case summary: Christa Ackroyd Media Ltd v HMRC [2019]

In this IR35 case, the Upper Tribunal determined that the BBC presenter Christa Ackroyd was an employee and therefore liable to account for income tax and national insurance of over £400,000, in contrast to the decisions in RALC Consulting and Paul Hawksbee's Kickabout Productions.

The key determining factor in the tribunal decision was the level of control operated by the BBC over Ms Ackroyd. The BBC decided the stories to be covered, it possessed the right to decide who Ms Ackroyd would interview and, through its editor and the application of its Editorial Guidelines, had ultimate control over the final content of the show.

The full decision in Christa Ackroyd Limited v HMRC [2019] is available here.

The reasoning behind the Ackroyd IR35 decision

There was no dispute that mutuality of obligation existed: the BBC was required to pay a monthly fee (irrespective of the hours worked) and Ms Ackroyd was required to work for the BBC (who had 'first call' on her services) for a minimum of 225 days per annum.

Ms Ackroyd was required to perform the services personally and was not permitted to send a substitute – although, as with Paul Hawksbee, this was not considered a material factor given the nature of the services being provided.

Ms Ackroyd was not permitted to work for any other UK broadcaster without the BBC's consent. Her contract with the BBC was for seven years which, coupled with the 225 days annual minimum commitment, resulted in Ms Ackroyd having a highly stable, regular and continuous engagement with the BBC. She attended BBC training seminars and appeared to third parties to be part and parcel of the organisation – the other factors were therefore consistent with an employment relationship.

If you'd like to discuss this decision and what it could mean for your business in light of the IR35 private sector roll-out, please contact Nathalie Ingles or Charlie Maples.