United Kingdom


The main function of the ECJ, based in Luxembourg, as set out in Article 164 of the Treaty of Rome, is to ensure that in the application and interpretation of the Treaty the law is observed. There are two aspects of the Court's jurisdiction which have been particularly significant in the development of UK labour law. The first is the power of the European Commission to bring proceedings against a Member State for failing to fulfil its Community law obligations. Proceedings brought against the UK led to important amendments in the areas of equal pay and sex discrimination, and, more recently, consultation in the event of proposed dismissals for redundancy or an impending transfer of the undertaking . The second is the power (and in some cases obligation) of national courts to refer a point of Community law which arises in domestic proceedings for a preliminary ruling. Here the principle of direct effect developed by the Court, which allows individuals to rely upon Community law rights before national courts, has once again been significant in the development of equal pay and sex discrimination law, for example in relation to compulsory retirement ages and occupational pensions . There are also important instances where the British courts have applied the principle of "indirect effect", which requires Member States to construe national law to comply with Community obligations, to avoid literal interpretations of the Equal Pay (Amendment) Regulations 1983 and TUPE . The European Communities Act 1972 provides that in domestic proceedings an ECJ ruling is a precedent in future cases involving the same Community provision. See also EqPA , Equal Pay Amendment , SDA 1986 , Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 1995 .

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.