Employment Cases Update

Noble v Box and others UKEAT/0203/19/BA

Date published: 13/04/2021

Appeal against the ET’s finding that employment contracts had transferred under TUPE following bankruptcy. Appeal allowed.

The Appellant had been a salaried partner in a law firm whose sole proprietor was adjudged bankrupt in 2016. The ET found that the employment contracts of a number of employees, the Respondents, had transferred to the Appellant by operation of the Transfer of Undertakings (Employment Protection) Regulations 2006 ("TUPE") following the execution in 2018 of a sale agreement between the sole proprietor and the Appellant. The Appellant appealed, contending that, by virtue of section 284 of the Insolvency Act 1986, any subsequent agreement purporting to transfer the firm's property was void.

The EAT held that the ET erred in law in finding that the Respondents' employment contracts were severable from the firm's other assets, such that the Appellant was saddled with all of the legal liabilities which TUPE prescribes but with none of the benefits. Accordingly, the appeal would be allowed, and it was unlikely to be in the parties' interests to pursue the matter, since the Respondents had received the sums held by the ET that were due to them; however, if they chose to do so, any hearing on the issues under appeal should be before a fresh ET.

Read the full text of the judgment on BAILII or download the file by clicking the link below.