Appeals Process and Hearings
The Labour Court Rules comprise six parts (Parts I-VI):
- Part I deals with the rules relating to appeals under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015 and the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015;
- Part II deals with the rules relating to other employment enactments;
- Part III deals with the procedures at hearing for all Part I and Part II cases;
- Part IV and Part V deal with industrial relations cases under section 13(9) and section 20(1) and 20(2) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969 and section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990 and the procedures at hearing of industrial relations cases; and
- Part VI deals with compliance notices.
Labour Court hearings take place in Dublin and a number of venues around the country. If an interpreter or other support is required, this request should be stated on the Form when submitting the appeal. Hearings are normally scheduled for 90 minutes but depending on the complexity of the case may be scheduled for a longer period.
Conduct of the Hearing
The conduct of the hearing will be regulated by the Chairman of the Division of the Court hearing the case. A party to the case may be represented by: -
A Trade Union Representative,
A Representative of an Employers Organisation,
Solicitor or Counsel,
With the consent of the Court, any other person of their choosing.
A Court Secretary attends the hearing to support the members of the Division in an administrative capacity.
Court Proceedings on the Day of the Hearing
Parties should arrive at the hearing venue at least 15 minutes before the hearing commences. The Court Secretary will be available on arrival to explain the formalities and protocol and for the parties to sign in before the hearing begins.
The Court Secretary will supply the names of the Court members prior to the start of the hearing. During the hearing the Chair of the Court may be addressed as “Chairman” or “Madam Chairman” and the members of the Court as Mr X or Ms X.
The Court Secretary shall announce the case and the parties will stand when the Court enters and leaves the Court. Except in such cases as the Court considers it convenient to take the written submissions as read, each party will read their submission in turn and will then be invited to comment on the other party’s submission. This should not be taken as a further opportunity to re-state their case; rather it is simply an opportunity to comment on the opposing submission. To fully understand the case being presented, the Court will then proceed to ask questions of both parties.
The Court members are not advocates for either side. However, in an appeal made under an employment rights enactment, where one party is not represented by legal counsel or otherwise, the Court may provide some assistance during the course of the hearing. Any such assistance will be provided within the limits of the Court’s obligations to conduct a fair hearing.
All documentation submitted to the Court either in advance, during or after a hearing is also made available to the other party in the case. The Court will not accept information from one party on a private and confidential basis.
NOTE: the Court does not make a record of the hearing available to the parties. With the permission of the Court, in employment rights cases only, parties may arrange to have a stenographer present at a hearing, at their own expense. The Court and the opposing party should be advised in advance of such arrangements. The Court will not require a copy of the Stenographer’s report.
Witnesses and Examination under Oath
In employment rights cases, the Court may take sworn evidence. Witnesses will be required to swear an oath or make an affirmation before the commencement of the hearing.
Attendance of witnesses is the responsibility of the party calling the witness. The Court may decide that it is not necessary to hear from all witnesses identified by the parties. In limited circumstances, the Court may compel a witness to attend by issuing a formal witness summons. Witnesses are first questioned by their own side, and then cross examined by the other side; members of the Court may also ask questions of the witnesses.
Court issues its Recommendation/Determination/Decision
After the hearing the Court will issue a written Recommendation/Determination/Decision as soon as is practical after the close of the hearing, usually within three weeks in industrial relations disputes and within six weeks in employment rights cases.
Employment rights Determinations are appealable on a point of law only to the High Court and may be subject to judicial review.
The Labour Court cannot award legal costs.
Labour Court Users Guide 2020