Specialised Courts and Judges
In Monaco, specialised courts and judges intervene exclusively in the fields of economic and social relationships. Their originality lies in the fact that they bring together individuals subject to appear before court with professional judges, in order to settle various disputes in the best possible way, particularly in cases opposing employers with their employees or landlords with their tenants.
These specialised courts and judges are:
- The Employment Tribunal
- The Superior Court of Arbitration
- The Rent Arbitration Commission
- The Arbitration Commission for Commercial Leases
The Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal, established by Act no. 446 of 16th May 1946 hears disputes that have risen in relation to the implementation or termination of employment contracts, regardless of the total sum or compensation claimed. The tribunal also has jurisdiction to hear disputes arising between employees at work and on appeals made against decisions of the grading committee (Article 11-1 of Act no. 739). Its territorial jurisdiction is determined by the location of the establishment in which the work is carried out. In cases where the work is carried out outside any fixed establishment, it is determined by the place where the contract of employment was completed.
Organisation and operation
The tribunal is under the administrative responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, and its offices are found not in the Palais de Justice but in the Louis II Stadium, 19 avenue des Castelans. Secretarial services are provided by a secretary rather than the general court registry.
The tribunal is made up of twenty employees and twenty employers, in accordance with sovereign ordinance no. 3851 of 14 August 1967.
Its members are appointed by sovereign ordinance for a duration of six years, on the proposal of employers’ federations and trade unions. Half of the members in each category are replaced every three years.
Proceedings before the Employment Tribunal are divided into two phases: the preliminary conciliation phase and the judgment phase.
- The preliminary conciliation phase
The main aim of the Employment Tribunal is to achieve conciliation between the parties.
The conciliation office consists of one employee and one employer who serve alternately as the chair. It holds non-public meetings once a week and tries to reconcile the parties.
Cases are referred to the conciliation office on request of one of the parties. Parties may also choose to appear voluntarily before the office.
Parties are summoned by the secretary of the Employment Tribunal by means of a letter, which must state the names of both parties and the date on which they are required to appear as well as the subject of the claim.
The parties are required to appear in person unless there is a legitimate impediment. Parties may be assisted or represented by an avocat-défenseur, by a lawyer registered at the Monaco Bar or by an individual engaged in professional activity as an employer or employee in the Principality of Monaco. Employers may also be represented by a manager, administrator or employee of the company or establishment.
At the conciliation office the claimant may clarify or even expand his/her claim and the respondent may put forward any information that he/she considers relevant.
If conciliation is achieved, a report is drawn up recording agreement on all or on some of the issues in question. In the event of failure to comply with the commitments entered into, the report, signed by the president of the court and the secretary, is enforceable with no recourse to appeal.
If conciliation is not achieved, a report is drawn up and the parties are referred to the judgment panel.
- Proceedings before the judgment panel
The judgment panel sits in public in the courtroom of the Justice of the Peace at the Palais de Justice. It is presided over by the Justice of the Peace, assisted by four assessor judges chosen in equal number from the employer and employee groups of the Employment Tribunal. Following deliberation, decisions are taken by absolute majority.
Parties may appear in person, be assisted or represented by an avocat-défenseur, by a lawyer registered at the Monaco Bar or by an individual engaged in professional activity as an employer or employee in the Principality of Monaco. Employers may also be represented by a manager, administrator or employee (Article 44 of Act no. 446).
In so far as they are not incompatible with the provisions of Act no. 446, the provisions of Book 2, Section 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure are applicable to proceedings before the judgment panel.
The claims laid out in the report on failure to achieve conciliation determine the scope of the dispute; as such no additional claims that were not made during the preliminary conciliation phase may be brought before the judgment panel.
The judgment panel rules on the merits of the dispute by means of a reasoned judgment.
Where the value of the dispute is less than 1,800 euro, the judgment is given as a last-instance decision; in disputes of higher value it is possible to lodge an appeal. This appeal must be brought before the Court of First Instance, for which the rules governing appearance are the same as those for the judgment panel (Article 63 of Act no. 446). In respect to last-instance decisions, an application for proceedings to be re-opened may be made on the grounds of misuse of authority or breach of the law. It is also possible to submit an objection to the decision.
The Superior Court of Arbitration
The Superior Court of Arbitration is a special court that hears cases concerning the regulation of industrial disputes.
It was established by Act no 473 of 4th March 1948 on industrial disputes that cannot be directly resolved, either through conciliation, the application of provisions of collective agreements or through specific conciliation or arbitration procedures.
Organisation and Operation
The conciliation and arbitration procedure is instigated when the earliest petitioner submits a request for conciliation to the Minister of State. This document is drawn up in triplicate on plain paper, setting out the facts and/or laws to which the dispute relates. The Minister of State may also refer the matter to the conciliation commission automatically.
This request is then referred to a conciliation commission, made up of two employers and two employees who sit on the Employment Tribunal, and presided over by the president of the judgment panel of the Employment Tribunal, namely the Justice of the Peace.
If conciliation cannot be achieved, the parties are required to appoint a mediator. If they fail to do so, one or more mediators are appointed by the Minister of State.
Arbitration awards include a statement of reasons. Awards are not subject to appeal or to an application to re-open proceedings. However, they may be referred to the Superior Court of Arbitration on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, misuse of power or breach of the law.
The Superior Court of Arbitration is presided over by the president of the Court of Appeal or by a representative judge.
It also includes two judges from the judiciary and two senior state officials, either working or retired, who are appointed by sovereign ordinance for a period of two years. If the Superior Court of Arbitration is required to determine the merits of the case, the president of the Employment Tribunal also selects two employee and two employer representatives from the tribunal’s members.
The prosecution is represented by the Public Prosecutor or a nominated substitute judge from the general public prosecutors’ office. Judgments by the Public Prosecutor are made in the name of the law.
Rulings of the Superior Court of Arbitration are made in the name of the Prince.
When ruling on the merits of a case, the Superior Court of Arbitration may annul an arbitration award. No appeal can be made against its decision.
The Rent Arbitration Commission
Established by Act n° 1.235 of 28th December 2000, the Rent Arbitration Commission hears disputes between landlords and tenants concerning the amount of rent payable as stipulated in the lease or lease renewal agreement for certain residential premises built or completed before 1 September 1947 (1).
Organisation and Operation
The Rent Arbitration Commission has four members:
- The president of the Court of First Instance or the judge delegated by him, who has the deciding vote in the event of a split vote
- A landlord and tenant of residential premises appointed by the president from a list of twenty landlords and twenty tenants drawn up by the Minister of State every six years
- A registered architect or any other qualified person, selected by the president of the Court of First Instance from a list drawn up by the Minister of State every six years
The parties are summoned to appear by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, or by notification served by a bailiff.
The Rent Arbitration Commission tries to obtain an agreement between the parties on the amount of rent paid or determines that amount if agreement cannot be reached. If necessary the commission may request an expert report for that purpose. Decisions handed down by the arbitration commission include a statement of reasons and are subject to appeal within the time-limit and under the conditions laid out in the Code of Civil Procedure. The decision may be subject to an application to re-open proceedings.
(1) Such properties, with the exception of houses of a certain standard, constitute rent-controlled housing of private tenure, commonly known as the "protected sector", for which the owner is obliged by law to establish a lease contract with tenants who have a link to the Principality (Monegasque nationality, birth, family ties, etc.) at a rental cost that must respect certain legally defined criteria. Residential leases for property built after September 1947, on the other hand, are governed by common law and therefore have contractual freedom.
The Arbitration Commission for Commercial Leases
Established by Act n° 490 of 24th November 1948, the Arbitration Commission for Commercial Leases is responsible for resolving disputes between landlords and tenants concerning the conditions on the renewal and review of commercial leases.
Organisation and Operation
A dispute is referred to this commission following failure to achieve conciliation through application to the president of the Court of First Instance or his delegated judge. The commission then has full jurisdiction to hear the dispute and may, for that purpose, decide to seek the opinion of an expert in the field. However, the scope of its jurisdiction is determined by the terms of the report recording failure to achieve conciliation.
Decisions of the arbitration commission include a statement of reasons and are subject to appeal. The decision may be subject to an application to re-open proceedings.
The Arbitration Commission for Commercial Leases has five members:
- The president of the Court of First Instance or the judge delegated by him
- Two landlords and two commercial or industrial tenants, appointed by the president as assessor judges from a list of fifteen landlords and fifteen tenants drawn up annually by the Minister of State
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