In a landmark case, the High Court has dismissed a judicial review challenge to decisions made by the Central Arbitration Committee to reject the IWGB's applications for statutory trade union recognition for collective bargaining purposes on behalf of a group of around 70 outsourced workers at the University of London, who claimed it was their 'de facto' employer, as it controlled or determined the terms of their contracts. The application for recognition appears to have stemmed from a complaint by the outsourced workers that they received less generous employment benefits than colleagues employed directly by the University (which recognises Unison).

It was not accepted that Article 11 of the ECHR (the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions) requires that the IWGB should have a right of compulsory collective bargaining with the University.  The University is not the workers' employer (there being no such concept as a 'de facto employer') and there is no contractual relationship between the parties.  Further, the workers had the opportunity to benefit from collective bargaining with another independent trade union under the arrangements made by their employer, Cordant.

This decision is perhaps unsurprising and maintains the position that the right to compulsory collective bargaining is limited to workers and their employers.  No doubt there has been a huge sigh of relief by those organisations who engage large numbers of outsourced workers as a finding in the IGWB's favour would have had huge ramifications, to include for the government which indirectly employs huge numbers of outsourced workers (which might partly explain why BEIS joined the litigation as an interested party).