Crystal Palace FC win in major Court of Appeal employment legal case

Football fan celebrating Print news article


Sports lawyers at Walker Morris have won a major employment legal case in the Court of Appeal for Crystal Palace FC.

The judgment reinforces the original decision of the Employment Tribunal and provides an important clarification in relation to employment law and in particular TUPE.

The case centred on the dismissal of a number of employees of Crystal Palace FC back in May 2010.  At the time the club was in administration and facing serious financial difficulty.  The administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, was attempting to sell the club as a going concern.  With the serious prospect of liquidation, the decision was taken to run the club with a skeleton staff in the hope that a sale could be made.   As a result Lisa Kavanagh, Kevin Watts, Elizabeth Roake and David Moss and 25 others were dismissed.

A sale was made to CPFC Limited (with Walker Morris as their advisors) and the Club went on to enjoy success both on and off the pitch starting the 2013-2014 football season in the Premier League for the first time since the 2004-2005 season.

The case concerned whether the four employees were dismissed in such a manner that the TUPE Regulations (Transfer of Undertaking Regulations 2006) which protects employees’ continuity of employment and terms and conditions, were transferred to the purchaser, or alternatively whether this was not the case as the dismissals were as a result of economic, technical or organisational reasons.  It was held that the dismissals were made as a result of economic, technical or organisational reasons due to the fact that the administrator did not have sufficient funds to pay the employees without making such dismissals.

David Hinchliffe, Head of the Sports Group at Walker Morris said:

“We are delighted with the outcome which confirms that even though the dismissals were connected with the transfer the purchaser did not pick up the liabilities as the dismissals were for economic and organisational reasons.

“This is a major case and will clarify the circumstances in which a company in administration may dismiss staff without incurring a liability for unfair dismissal.  The case should have a positive impact on the rescue culture.”

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