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Capping of damages in the event of unfair dismissal: two High court opinions aim to quash trial judge rebellion


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The French High Court, the Cour de cassation, issued two very clear opinions on 17 July 2019 validating the capping of unfair dismissal damage awards provided in the Labor Code.

These caps were introduced in the Labor Code by the current President, Emmanuel Macron, with aim to harmonize the awards made by labor courts, but also to introduce more predictability for the employers in the sums they could be condemned to pay before these Courts.

The Court very clearly states that:

-       Article L. 1235-3 of the Labor Code capping the awards do not enter in the scope of article 6§1 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

-       The provisions of article 24 of the European Social Chart do not have direct effect in national law in litigations between individuals (this protects the caps from an unfavorable decision from the European Council to Social Rights seized by a National Labor Union on the issue);

-       The provisions of article L. 1235-3 of the Labor Code are compatible with article 10 of the International Labor Organization’s Convention158.

The High Court, in plenary session, concludes to the compatibility of the capping, and thus its validity.

Trial judges are warned. This is only an opinion, but it gives the position of the High Court on the matter.

Avis n°15012 et n°15013 du 17 juillet 2019


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