Matrix silk overturns Stringfellows stripper decision

Matrix Chambers’ Tom Linden QC has helped strip-club owner Peter Stringfellow win his appeal over whether a £200,000-a-year stripper was an employee of his club.

Peter Stringfellow

Linden was brought in at the Court of Appeal stage by Davenport Lyons partner Marie van der Zyl for Stringfellows after Cloisters’ Caspar Glyn QC lost at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (9 November 2012).

The EAT ruled that Nadine Quashie was an employee of the Stringfellows club and therefore could bring a claim of unfair dismissal (27 April 2012). This ruling had overturned the first-instance decision by the Employment Tribunal that she was not an employee.

Following today’s judgment by Lord Justice Elias, the original decision of the ET has been upheld.

Old Square Chambers’ John Hendy QC was instructed to lead Tooks Chambers’ Catherine Rayner by Bindmans partner Shah Qureshi on behalf of Quashie.

The judgment said that Judge McMullen QC, who heard the appeal at the EAT, had made a “plain error” that was “at odds with the evidence”. Judge McMullen held that Stringfellow was under an obligation to pay Quashie.

Elias LJ said he “strongly disagreed” with that finding and ruled that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear the claim of unfair dismissal.

He said: “The critical question was whether the nature of those contractual obligations. Were they such as to render it a contract of employment….. In my view, the most important finding in that regard was the tribunal’s inference from the evidence that the employer was under no obligation to pay the dancer anything at all.”

However, Quashie looks set to appeal and take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Qureshi told The Lawyer: “Nadine is naturally disappointed with the judgment and is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We maintain her work for Stringfellows had all the hallmarks of an employment relationship – she was required to provide services in exchange for payment, mutual obligations between the parties and Stringfellows exerted a high level of control over her work.

“If allowed to stand, this decision has the potential to impact negatively on the rights of dancers in the UK.”