Consultation obligations in collective redundancies
The High Court has recently issued judgment in the case of Tangney and ors v Dell Products, Limerick. This was an appeal on a point of law from a determination of the Employment Appeals Tribunal to the effect that the Respondent had not failed to comply with its obligation to consult with employees in accordance with section 9 of the Protection of Employment Act 1977 (the "1977 Act") regarding a proposed collective redundancy. While the High Court ultimately disallowed the appeal on the basis that the grounds of appeal advanced were matters of fact, rather than law, the judgment nonetheless considered (to some degree) when the obligation to consult arises in the context of collective redundancies. This obligation is imposed by Directive 75/129/EEC (the "Directive"), which is implemented in Ireland by the 1977 Act.
Dell Products Limerick (the "Company") embarked on a rationalisation process in 2009 which resulted in 1,900 redundancies in Ireland, due to the closure of its manufacturing facility in Limerick. On 8 January 2009, the Company issued a written communication to employees containing information in relation to the proposed redundancies. The applicants' case was that the communication on 8 January 2009 effectively constituted a notice of dismissal, and therefore any consultation which took place subsequent to that date did not comply with the Company's statutory obligations under section 9 of the 1977 Act.
Decision of the High Court
On the Company's appeal to the EAT from the decision of the Right's Commissioner, the Tribunal determined that no breach of the 1977 Act had occurred. In the appeal from the EAT's determination on a point of law, the High Court reviewed a number of decisions of Court of Justice of the European Union and found that the EAT had taken the view that the Company had...