In order to avoid labour conflict , the collective bargaining parties may establish joint dispute resolution boards to which they refer their disputes of interest. These boards established by agreement are given precedence over the statutory conciliation or arbitration procedure. Arrangements for joint dispute resolution may be included as clauses in collective agreements or form a separate agreement. There are no differences of opinion as to their lawfulness, since the possibility of industrial action is not entirely ruled out.

Joint dispute resolution agreements exist in most industries. They are based on a model which the German Federation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of German Employers' Associations recommended their members to adopt. The agreed procedure may be initiated on the application of either or both of the parties. More recent agreements also provide that it should commence automatically following the breakdown of negotiations. A joint dispute resolution agreement places the collective bargaining parties under an obligation to make efforts to resolve their dispute before starting to engage in industrial action.

A joint dispute resolution board established by collective agreement is composed of members representing the parties involved, together with an impartial chairperson. If the board fails to arrive at a compromise proposal, or if its proposal is not accepted by both sides, the joint dispute resolution procedure is deemed to have been exhausted unsuccessfully, the peace obligation ceases to exist and industrial action may commence. If, on the other hand, the parties agree on a compromise in the joint dispute resolution procedure, the compromise achieved is regarded as constituting a new collective agreement.

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.