The new law on social dialogue has reconfigured the competence of the courts of law for the resolution of individual labor disputes
At the same time with the repeal of Law no. 62/2011 on social dialogue, the express provision according to which individual labor disputes shall be solved in the first instance by the tribunal has also been repealed.
The new law on social dialogue – Law no. 367/2022 – no longer expressly provides the competence of the tribunal to judge in first instance individual labor disputes, so the question arises to determine which court is competent to this end, in order to solve the claims registered as from 25 December 2022 – the date of entry into force of Law no. 367/2022.
According to the provisions of Law no. 53/2003 – the Labor Code – the judgment of labor disputes falls within the competence of the courts of law established under the law, but, in the absence of special, derogatory provisions on competence, the common law provisions shall become applicable.
Which courts of law have the material competence to judge labor disputes in first instance?
The courts of first instance judge in first instance:
- the claims regarding the affirmative or negative covenants not assessable in money (i.e. the request for the issuance of a certificate attesting work seniority);
- any other claims assessable in money amounting to up to lei 200,000 included (i.e. an employer’s claim to have its employee obliged to pay damages on the grounds of employee patrimonial liability).
Tribunals judge in first instance:
- any other claims assessable in money amounting to over lei 200,000 included (i.e. the claim requesting that an employer be obliged to pay salary increments);
- claims not assessable in money, except for the ones referred for competence reasons to other courts of law (i.e. except for the claims referring to affirmative or negative covenants not assessable in money, which are referred to the courts of first instance etc.);
- all the claims that are not referred under the law for competence reasons to other courts of law.
What is the term until which one may file an appeal against the judgments ruled in first instance?
Since the legal provision setting forth a shorter term of appeal in the cases concerning labor disputes, and namely 10 days, has been repealed, the common law appeal term, and namely 30 days, which starts running from the communication of the court decision, becomes applicable.
Which courts of law have the territorial competence to judge labor disputes in first instance?
Only the court of law in whose district the claimant is domiciled, resident or established has territorial competence to solve individual labor disputes.
The alternative territorial competence of the court of law in whose district the claimant has his place of work is no longer provided.
Which provisions remain applicable?
Claims relating to the resolution of labor disputes remain exempt from judicial stamp duty and judicial stamp.
Claims are judged as a matter of urgency and the terms for the hearing cannot exceed 15 days.
Judgments on the merits are final and enforceable de jure.
What are the challenges of the new legislative changes/the legislator’s omission to set forth rules of material competence for the resolution of individual labor disputes?
The competent court to which the employer’s measure can be challenged must be mentioned in the dismissal decision and in the disciplinary sanction decision under penalty of absolute nullity. In the absence of clear and express provisions on the material competence of the courts of law, it is difficult for employers to identify the court competent to solve any dispute which may arise as a result of the measure ordered, relating to the conclusion, execution, amendment, suspension or termination of the individual employment agreement.