[Thanks to Dr John McMullen of Wrigleys Solicitors LLP for preparing this case summary]
Under TUPE, what is the interpretation of a contract for a 'single specific event or task of short term duration' for the purposes of determining whether there has been a service provision change?
This issue was addressed by the EAT in Liddell's Coaches v Cook.
Under TUPE, Reg 3(3)(a)(ii) a service provision change is excluded where the client for whom the services are provided intends that the activities concerned are in connection with a single specific event or task of short term duration.
Liddell's had a contract to provide transport for schoolchildren during a limited period when they were 'decanted' from their school. It was just for a year. The evidence was that contracts of this nature were normally awarded for periods of between 3 and 5 years. Did the exclusion apply?
The employment tribunal held that the decant transport contract related to a single specific event and was of short term duration. TUPE did not apply. The EAT agreed with the result. However, Lady Smith took the opportunity to analyse the exclusion. The BIS guidance on TUPE indicates that both a single specific event, and task, must both be of short term duration. Lady Smith disagreed. The phrase could be construed disjunctively. A single specific event spoke for itself. It did not necessarily have to be of "short term duration". An event is an event. It does not require to be qualified by the words: "of short term duration". But in the outcome this did not matter. The tribunal had correctly found that the contract (event or task) was, in this case, of short term duration.