The judiciary plays a key role in the implementation and evolution of labour law. In some legal traditions the courts apply the law; in others they establish the law as well. In either case, through judicial decisions, legal principles and equitable procedural rules are developed and applied to real situations in order to resolve disputes. Such is the core role of any judicial system, irrespective of the form it may take, the different structures it may adopt, or the different rules of procedure it may apply in the administration and adjudication of cases coming before it.
There is a wide variety of approaches relating to the organization, competence, and rules of procedure governing the hearing and settlement of labour disputes. Many countries have chosen to establish a specialized jurisdiction, made up of labour courts, sometimes also known as industrial tribunals. Such bodies in many respects do not share the characteristics of the so-called regular or ordinary jurisdictions, and in a number of countries they are not part of the general judiciary. Yet in all cases they assume their responsibilities independently of other governmental bodies. Often, they comprise courts, or boards, where professional judges or magistrates sit alongside lay judges or assessors from workers' and employers' organizations. Easy and speedy access, and the absence of formality in the administration of procedures are also common features of these bodies. However, a number of countries do not have this special jurisdiction, and labour disputes are brought before the ordinary courts. Other countries have frequent recourse to alternative dispute resolution procedures, where the settlement of labour disputes is referred to private mediation or arbitration rather than to the judiciary.
The ILO regularly contributes to the professional development of labour court judges and staff by providing vocational training and organizing information symposia.
The ILO collaborates with European Presidents and Judges of Labour Courts, who hold periodic meetings to discuss themes of common concern and to assess the evolution of labour law in their respective countries in light of key judicial decisions.
The meetings of European Labour Court Judges are coordinated by Angelika Muller
, Labour Law Officer, ILO, Geneva.
The next meeting will be held in Vienna, Austria, 30 September – 1 October 2013.