LC Procedure

Evolution of Court

The Labour Court was established in 1946 (following the enactment of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946). Its main functions were to adjudicate in trade disputes and to provide a conciliation service. Other functions given to the Court included the establishment of Joint Labour Committees and the registration of employment agreements and Joint Industrial Councils.

The Labour Court’s direct role in dispute resolution and conciliation was later reduced and many of functions were transferred to Rights Commissioners and, later the Labour Relations Commission.

A range of legally binding powers was conferred on the Labour Court commencing with equality legislation in the 1970s.  Because of its success and experience in the area, further powers were conferred. Accordingly, in parallel with its industrial relations functions, it exercised an increasing range of functions.


Rights Jurisdiction of Labour Court I

An equality service was added in 1975 to deal with equal pay – and later, equal treatment – cases. In 1991, this service, and the conciliation service of the Labour Court were transferred to the newly established Labour Relations Commission. In 1999, the equality service was transferred from the Labour Relations Commission to the newly formed Equality Authority and Office of the Director of Equality Investigations (the Equality Tribunal).

The Labour Court retained its other functions under equality legislation, including the hearing of appeals and investigating complaints of dismissal under the Employment Equality and Pensions Acts (appeals under the equality provisions of the Pensions Act, 1990 are heard by the Labour Court).

The Court acquired additional functions in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2003 under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000, the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001, the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act, 2003 and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 respectively. In 1999, the Court’s remit under equality legislation was broadened by the coming into operation of the Employment Equality Act, 1998.


Rights Jurisdiction of Labour Court II

The Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 gave the Court responsibility for processing applications for approval of working time agreements as well as an appellate and enforcement function in relation to Rights Commissioners’ decisions under that Act.

The Employment Equality Act, 1998 extended the Courts functions in relation to equality matters to reflect the widening of the scope of equality legislation.

The National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 gave the Labour Court an appellate and enforcement role in relation to recommendations of Rights Commissioners under that Act, as well as empowering the Court to exempt employers, in certain circumstances and for a maximum of 12 months, from the scope of the Act.


Rights Jurisdiction of the Labour Court III

The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001 gave the Court an appellate and enforcement role in relation to decisions of Rights Commissioners under the Act; and responsibility for processing of applications for approval of collective agreements concerning casual part-time employees under the Act.

The Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act, 2003 gave the Court an appellate and enforcement role in relation to decisions of Rights Commissioners under the Act.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 gave the Court an appellate and enforcement role in relation to decisions of Rights Commissioners under the Act.


Labour Court Appeal

The enactment of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 provides that the Labour Court is now the sole appellate body from decisions of  Adjudication Officers in the Workplace Relations Commission. Most complaints are dealt with in the first instance by mediation or adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission.

Either party to a first instance hearing has a right to appeal the decision of a WRC Adjudication Officer to the Labour Court. There is a time limit of 42 days from the date of first decision applicable in all appeal applications.   This is a final appeal.  There is provision for reference to the High Court on a point of law only.

The Labour Court must give the parties to the appeal an opportunity to be heard by it and to present to it any evidence relevant to the appeal. It shall make a decision in relation to the appeal in accordance with the relevant redress provision, and give the parties to the appeal a copy of that decision in writing.

The Court may affirm the decision of the adjudication officer dismissing the complaint or dispute concerned, or annul that decision and refer the complaint or dispute to the Director General. A copy of the notice must be given by the Labour Court to the other party concerned as soon as may be after the receipt of the notice by the Labour Court.

The Court may refer a question of law arising in proceedings before it to the High Court for determination by the High Court, and the determination of the High Court must be final and conclusive.


Means of Disposal

Labour Court hearings on appeals from the adjudication officer are heard in public unless it decides that they should be in private (or partly in private) because of special circumstances. The Labour Court has wide powers to require witnesses to attend and to take evidence on oath.

The Labour Court may, where it considers that an appeal may be dealt with by written submissions only, inform the parties to the appeal, by notification in writing, of its intention to deal with the appeal in that manner. Where a party to an appeal is given a notification and, not later than 42 days after having been given the notification, he or she informs the Labour Court that he or she objects to the appeal being dealt with in the manner specified in the notification, the Labour Court shall not deal with the appeal in that manner.

The Labour Court may refer a question of law arising in the appeal to the High Court. The High Court’s determination is final and conclusive.


Notice of Appeal

The following procedure applies to dismissals and equality matters. A notice of appeal must be given to the Labour Court not later than 42 days from the date of the decision. The Labour Court may direct that a notice may be given to it after the expiration of that period if it is satisfied that the notice was not so given before such expiration due to the existence of exceptional circumstances.

The notice must be given on a form provided by the Court for that purpose. It must contain details of the parties and the grounds of appeal.  It must be accompanied by a copy of the decision of the Adjudication Officer to which the appeal relates. The Court sends a copy of the notice of appeal to the Respondent.

In other employment cases, the appeal must be initiated by notice in writing delivered to the Court within 42 days from the date of the decision being appealed.  The notice must be given on a form provided by the Court for that purpose.

The notice shall contain the following particulars of the parties and the grounds of appeal.  The notice of appeal must be accompanied by a copy of the decision of the Adjudication Officer to which the appeal relates.

The Court shall send a copy of the notice of appeal to the Respondent.  The Court will fix the time date and place at which the hearing of the appeal will be held as soon as may be after the notice of appeal is received and notice thereof must be sent to the parties.


Submissions I

In unfair dismissals and equality cases, not later than three weeks from the date on which the notice of appeal is delivered to the Court, the Appellant must furnish the Court with a written submission setting out the factual and legal issues upon which they intend to rely in the appeal.

The Court shall send a copy of the Appellant’s submission to the Respondent.  The Respondent shall send a replying submission to the Court within three weeks of the date on which a copy of the Appellant’s submission was sent to the Respondent.  The Court shall send a copy of the Respondent’s submission to the Appellant.

In other employment cases, not later than seven working days before the date fixed for the hearing of an appeal each party to the appeal shall furnish the Court with a written submission setting out the factual and legal issues upon which they intend to rely in the appeal.


Submissions II

The submission and replying submission shall contain: –

  • a concise statement of the factual background to the claim giving rise to the appeal;
  • a summary of the evidence to be adduced by, or on behalf of, the party making the submission;
  • a summary of any legal arguments that will be relied upon in the course of the appeal;
  • the number of witnesses, if any, that the party proposes to call at the hearing of the appeal.

The Court may extend the time for filing submissions on application where exceptional circumstances are shown for the delay.  An application to extend the time for bringing a must be made in writing to the Chairman giving the grounds upon which the extension is sought.


Pre-Hearing I

In dismissal and Equality cases, as soon as may be after the receipt of submissions from all parties the Court shall fix the date and place for the hearing of the appeal.  The Court may, in its discretion, require the parties to attend a case management conference before a date for the hearing of the appeal is fixed.

A notice of the date, time and place of the hearing must be given to the parties at their address notified to the Court.  A notice or document required to be served or sent by these rules may be served or sent by electronic means, in a case in which the person has given notice in writing of his or her consent to the notice or document (or notices or documents of a class to which the notice or document belongs) being served on, or given to, him or her in that manner.

Not later than seven days before the date fixed for the hearing of the appeal the Appellant and the Respondent shall send to the Court statements in writing containing: –

  • the names of the witnesses who will be called to give evidence at the appeal;
  • a summary of the evidence that each witness is expected to give; and
  • any document that they intend to rely upon in the course of the appeal.

Pre-Hearing II

The Court may, in its discretion, require the parties to attend a case management conference before a date for the hearing of the appeal is fixed.

A notice of the date, time and place of the hearing must be notified to the parties at the address notified to the Court.   Not later than seven days before the date fixed for the hearing of the appeal the Appellant and the Respondent shall send to the Court statements in writing containing: –

  • the names of the witnesses who will be called to give evidence;
  • a summary of the evidence that each witness is expected to give; and
  • any document that they intend to rely upon in the course of the appeal.

Representation

In proceedings before the Labour Court, the appellant or may be accompanied and represented by

  • a trade union official,
  • an official of a body that, in the opinion of the Labour Court, represents the interests of employers,
  • a practising barrister or practising solicitor, or
  • any other person, if the Labour Court so permits.

In proceedings before the Labour Court, the appellant or respondent may, if he or she has not yet attained the age of 18 years, be accompanied and represented by his or her parent or guardian.


Hearing I

The hearing before the Labour Court is a fresh hearing. It is held in public.  It may be held other than in public, where there are confidentiality and privacy issues and consideration.   The Labour Court may establish its own procedures.

The conduct of the hearing of an appeal is regulated by the Chairman of the division of the Court before which the appeal is being heard.  An appeal must be by way of a de novo hearing of the complaint to which the appeal relates.

Witnesses who intend to give evidence in the course of the appeal are sworn (or may make an affirmation) before the commencement of the hearing. The Court Secretary or any member of the Court may administer the oath or affirmation.


Hearing II

Except in such cases, as the Court considers it convenient to take the written submissions as read, each party shall read their submission and the other party will be afforded an opportunity to comment on the submission presented by the other party.

Witnesses may give evidence and can be cross-examined by the party opposite or their representative.  The Court may curtail the examination of a witness which it considers repetitive or irrelevant and may curtail cross-examination which it considers oppressive.

The Court may postpone or adjourn the hearing of an appeal either generally or from time to time on such terms as it considers appropriate.  The Court may admit any duly authenticated written statement as prima facie evidence of any fact whenever it thinks it just and proper to do so.


Further Information

A member of the Court may address questions to a witness for the purpose of clarifying any incomplete or unclear part of his or her evidence. The Court may, in its discretion, give a preliminary ruling on any aspect of the case where it is satisfied that time and expense may be saved by the giving of such a ruling.

Whenever it considers it necessary to do so, the Court may direct a party to furnish it with further or better information in writing on any matter arising in an appeal and may prescribe the time within which the information is to be provided.

Where a party provides further or better information in accordance with a direction given by the Court, a copy of the document containing the information must be sent by that party to the other parties to the appeal and the other parties must be entitled to furnish a response within such time as the Court may direct.

Where a party who is directed to furnish further or better information fails to comply with the direction, or where a party fails to respond to information provided to that the Court may draw such inferences from that failure as it considers appropriate.


Decision

The Court will give a decision in writing as soon as practicable after the close of the hearing. A single decision must be issued, and the existing of affirming or dissenting decisions shall not be disclosed.

The Labour Court may, by notice in writing given to the parties to an appeal, correct any mistake (including any omission) of an administrative or clerical nature in a decision in relation to the appeal.


References and Sources

Primary References

Employment Law  Meenan  2014 Ch. 24

Employment Law Supplement Meenan 2016 Ch.24A

Employment Law Regan & Murphy  2009  Ch.22 ( 2nd Ed 2017)

Employment Law in Ireland Cox & Ryan 2009 Ch.2

Dismissal Law in Ireland  Redmond 2007 Ch.10

Other Irish Books

Employment Law Forde & Byrne 2009

Principles of Irish Employment Law         Daly & Doherty   2010

Acts

Workplace Relations Act 2015 (No.16)

Industrial Relations Act 1946 (No. 26)

Industrial Relations Act 1969 (No. 14)

Industrial Relations Act 1976 (No. 15)

Industrial Relations Act 1990 (No. 19)

Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2001 (No. 11)

Industrial Relations (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004 (No. 4)

Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012 (No. 32)

Periodicals and Reports

Employment Law Yearbook (annual) Arthur Cox

Employment Law Reports

Irish Employment Law Journal

Employment Law Review

Legislative Guides

Dismissal & Redundancy Consolidated Legislation   Barrett, G   2007

Irish Employment legislation (Looseleaf) Kerr  1999-

Employment Rights Legislation (IEL offprint)   Kerr  2006

Dismissal & Redundancy Consolidated Legislation   Barrett, G   2007

Principles of Irish Employment Law         Daly & Doherty   2010

Termination & Redundancy, What is the law?  Hayes, Barry & O’Mara 2005

Termination of Employment Statutes (IEL)       Kerr  2016

Termination of Employment: Practical Guide for Employers        Purdy         2011

Shorter Guides

Employment Law Nutshell    Donovan, D         2016

Employees: Know Your Rights       Eardly        2008

Essentials of Irish Labour Law       Faulkner    2013

Websites

Workplace Relations Commission http://www.lrc.ie/en/

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission https://www.ihrec.ie/

Health and Safety Authority http://www.hsa.ie/eng/

UK Texts

Textbook on Employment Law, Honeyball, et al. 13th Ed. 2014

Labour Law, Deakin and Morris 5th Ed. 2012

Employment Law, Smith and Wood 13th Ed 2017

Selwyn’s law of Employment Emir A 19 Ed. 2016

Employment law : the essentials. Lewis D Sargeant M and Schwab M 11 Ed.2011

Labour Law Collins H, Ewing K D and McColgan  2012

Industrial relations law reports. (IRLR): Law Section,

Employment law Benny R Jefferson M and Sargent  5th Ed.  2012

Pitt’s Employment Law 10th  Ed. Gwyneth Pitt 2016

CLP Legal Practice Guides: Employment Law 2016 Gillian Phillips, Karen Scott

Cases and Materials on Employment Law 10th  Ed. Richard Painter, Ann E. M. Holmes 2015

Blackstone’s Statutes on Employment Law 2015 – 2016 Richard Kidner

UK Practitioner Services

Tolley’s Employment Handbook 2017 Mrs Justice Slade 2017

Butterworths Employment Law Handbook 2017 Peter Wallington 2017

Blackstone’s Employment Law Practice 2017 Edited by Gavin Mansfield, John Bowers, John Macmillan 2017

UK Periodicals and Reports

The Employment Law Review 8th  Ed.   Erika C. Collins 2017

Industrial Relations Law Reports

Employment Law in Context: Text and Materials 2nd  Ed. David Cabrelli 2016