Popular participation in labour law: the new labour dispute resolution tribunal
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The Labour Tribunal Law (No. 45 of 2004) ushered in a new court-annexed dispute resolution system for industrial relations disputes in Japan (outlined generally in Sugeno, 2004). Similar to the lay judge system for criminal trials (Johnson and Shinomiya, Chapter 2), the new tribunal adopts an adjudicative model that blends professional and lay expertise with decisions heard by tripartite panel comprising a professional judge and two lay judges recommended by management and labour unions respectively. The new tribunal system came into operation on 1 April 2006. Japan has never maintained a separate system of specialist courts for resolving labour disputes. This contrast with Europe where lay justice, comprising representative input from management and labour, is the norm. For example, the labour court in Germany (Arbeits-gericht) and the employment tribunals in the UK are tripartite bodies; the labour courts in France (conseil de prud’hommes) are bipartite.
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