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TUPE: service provision change can occur where there is a group of clients with a common intention

19 March 2015 #Employment

The EAT has considered for the first time the issues of whether the references to "a client" and "the client" in regulation 3(1)(b) of TUPE (which defines a service provision change) can cover "clients" in the plural.  The employment tribunal held that it does not.

However, the EAT upheld the employee’s appeal, finding that the employment tribunal had taken a too literal approach in deciding that the provision only applies where there is a single client. It concluded that, in principle, a service provision change can take place where there is a change in the provision of activities carried out on behalf of a group of clients. However, the identity of the clients must remain the same after the change and the clients must demonstrate a common intention.

The decision (Ottimo Property Services Ltd v Duncan and another UKEAT/0321/14), is particularly relevant where there are multiple service users (for example, tenants in commercial premises or residents' management companies on a residential estate).

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