In brief: Tupe ruling could threaten contractors

A key European Court of Justice decision which threatens to plunge local government tendering into uncertainty is expected today (11 March). The court is expected to rule on a recent opinion by Advocate General La Pergola in the Suzen case that a simple changeover of a contract would not fall under the remit of the Acquired Rights and the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (Tupe). If the court supports the La Pergola ruling, companies which have taken over local government services under compulsory competitive tendering will be liable to pay redundancy costs if they lose the contract to a rival under a subsequent tendering operation. Sheridans partner Ruth Harvey, who represents the Public Contractors Association, said a private contractor which lost a contract could be liable for the redundancy costs of workers who had spent years employed by their local authority.