In France it is a specialised jurisdiction which deals with disputes between employees and employer resulting from an employment contract.
This special Court is called “Conseil des Prud’hommes”.

It has jurisdiction over any individual dispute which has arisen from the performance of an employment contract notably disputes relating to unpaid salary, disciplinary sanctions, harassment, termination of the contract of employment etc.The judges of the Employment Court are made up of salaried employees and employers in equal number.

There are five divisions before the Employment Court: the division for employees having “cadre” status, the division for the industrial sector, the division for the commercial and sales services sector, the division for various activities not falling into other divisions and the division for the agricultural industry.

It is also noteworthy that the Employment Court could hear matters in summary proceedings.

In 2016 there has been a major reform of the procedure to be followed before the Employment Court.

The aim of the reform is to:

  • Reinforce the mission of the conciliation bureau, accelerate procedural timescales
  • Reinforce the status and the training of the judges
  • Reinforce the written nature of the proceedings

The conciliation bureau constitutes the first stage before the Employment Court except if the matter is in summary proceedings.

In the event that the parties find a settlement before the conciliation bureau, the matter is in principle deemed to be terminated and the court provides minutes in which the terms of the conciliation are set down.

In the event that the parties do not find a settlement, the matter is adjourned to a later date before the judgment bureau of the Employment Court.

The merits of the case are discussed before the judgment bureau.

Between the hearing before the conciliation bureau and the hearing before the judgment bureau, the parties are required to exchange their written submissions and evidence.

The conciliation bureau may indeed set out specific dates upon and/or before which the claimant or plaintiff and the respondent should communicate their submissions and evidence to the other party.

The conciliation bureau will set the date for the hearing of the case, however, adjournment can be sought before the judgment bureau if evidence and submissions are received late and require a response.

Unless a settlement is reached between the parties, the judgment bureau then delivers its decision either immediately after the hearing or, more often, at a later date.

As far as appeals are concerned it is necessary for the appellant to be represented either by a French lawyer or a union representative called “défenseur syndical”.

All the advocates within our practice are fully entitled to practice (and to appear in Court if necessary) throughout the whole of the French territory and regularly do so on a daily basis.

They who can assist and provide expert advice in English and in a manner understandable to those of a non-French culture.

For a specific enquiry relating to employment litigation please click here.