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ICLG to Employment & Labour Law 2021 – Court Practice and Procedure

9.1       Which courts or tribunals have jurisdiction to hear employment-related complaints and what is their composition?

Employment-related complaints are lodged before the Industrial Tribunal.  The latter has exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases instituted by employees in relation to unfair dismissal, trade disputes and other employment law disputes such as those related to discrimination, harassment and victimisation.  When dealing with cases relating to conditions of employment, the Industrial Tribunal will be composed of a Chairperson.  However, when tackling cases relating to industrial disputes, the Industrial Tribunal is composed of a Chairperson and two other members selected by the Chairperson of the Tribunal.

Other contractual issues which may arise from an employment contract may be dealt with by the Civil Courts composed of one judge.

The Court of Appeal will then have jurisdiction to hear appeals from the decisions of the Industrial Tribunal or the Civil Courts on points of law.

9.2       What procedure applies to employment-related complaints? Is conciliation mandatory before a complaint can proceed? Does an employee have to pay a fee to submit a claim?

Employment-related complaints must be lodged in the Registry of the Industrial Tribunal within four months from the effective date of the breach.  Such complaint may be lodged by the employee alleging the breach or by some other person acting in the name and on behalf of such employee in virtue of a referral in writing, consisting of a declaration stating the facts of the case.

It is not mandatory for the parties to attempt conciliation before lodging a complaint with the Industrial Tribunal, although the parties may voluntarily attempt to reach some form of conciliation between them.  The employees are not required to pay any court fees when submitting a claim before the Industrial Tribunal.

9.3       How long do employment-related complaints typically take to be decided?

Although in terms of EIRA, the Industrial Tribunal shall decide any issue referred to it within a maximum period of one month from the date of the referral, the law also allows the Chairperson to decide such cases at such longer periods as it may deem necessary in the circumstances of the case and for a valid reason which must be stated and registered in the proceedings of the Tribunal.  In practice, most cases before the Industrial Tribunal take around two years to be decided.

9.4       Is it possible to appeal against a first instance decision and if so, how long do such appeals usually take?

A first instance decision by the Industrial Tribunal may be appealed on a point of law.  An appeal from such a decision must be filed in virtue of a court application within twelve days from the decision of the Industrial Tribunal.  Generally, appeal proceedings take around one year to be decided.

This article forms part of the ICLG to Employment and Labour Law 2021 publication.

 For more information you can contact one of our Team Members at Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates.