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First-instance labour court, of long-established tradition, whose unique feature is its strictly joint composition, with half of its members (judges) elected by employees and half by employers. It has exclusive competence for dealing with individual disputes arising from the contract of employment.

The way in which the Industrial Tribunals function follows rules which justify their composition. All disputes must, as a matter of principle, be the subject of an initial conciliation stage (before a joint conciliation board). In this stage the procedure is oral; the parties need not necessarily be assisted or represented by a lawyer, but they must appear in person.

But the Tribunals are courts in the true sense. Their members ("prud'hommes") possess a status which protects them against the risk of pressure or sanction. Appeals against their rulings may be brought before the Courts of Appeal and before the Supreme Court .

Although frequently criticized, the Industrial Tribunals are strongly supported both by many employers and by the trade unions.

Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.

Page last updated: 14 August, 2009