Labor jurisdiction (Germany)

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Large conference room of the Federal Labor Court

The labor jurisdiction is the specialized jurisdiction for labor .

In the legal matters to be dealt with, it has overlaps with ordinary jurisdiction and social jurisdiction . Nevertheless, labor jurisdiction is a separate specialized jurisdiction and, despite its historical roots, is not part of civil jurisdiction . The fundamental law for the constitution and order of the process in labor justice is the Labor Court Act (ArbGG) of 1979.

History of Labor Justice

Labor Court Act of December 23, 1926, RGBl. I p. 507

The origin of the labor jurisdiction were the guild courts of the Middle Ages. However, they were more like arbitration courts as there were no state judicial proceedings. So-called factory court deputations were set up in Prussia at the end of the 18th century. In the areas under French law, such as the Prussian Rhineland, so-called factory courts, which were soon renamed as commercial courts, were also created based on the model of the Conseils de Prud'hommes. From 1890, this type of court, made up of equal numbers of employer and employee representatives, was introduced throughout the entire Reich, with a professional judge added as a neutral chairman. In the Weimar Republic there were labor courts from 1926, but they were only organizationally independent in the first instance. The state labor courts were assigned to the regional courts, the Reich labor court was part of the Reichsgericht . It was not until 1953 that labor jurisdiction became a separate specialized jurisdiction. Since 1961 the presiding judge has to be a professional judge.

In the GDR from 1952 to 1963 labor courts existed at district and district level. After these were integrated into the district and district courts in 1963 , there were no longer any separate labor courts. Labor law proceedings were negotiated by the conflict commissions and the district and district courts. After the fall of the Wall , regional labor courts and labor courts were established in the new federal states in 1992/1993.

Arbitration body

The Arbitration Body at the Labor Court as a chamber is made up of a presiding (full-time) judge and an "honorary labor judge" each from the employee side and the employer side . These two are determined by means of lists of proposals from the trade unions and employers' associations . Each of these three judges has the same weight of votes. Judgments are usually passed unanimously, but there is also the possibility that a judge may be outvoted.

Jurisdiction of the labor court

International jurisdiction

The international jurisdiction follows the general rules of international jurisdiction law. The lack of international jurisdiction leads to the inadmissibility of the action, the lack of a local or judicial authority for referral to the locally competent ( § 48 ArbGG) or judiciary ( § 17 ff. GVG) court.


The courts' jurisdiction over labor law matters is regulated in § § 2 to § 5 ArbGG, whereby § 2a ArbGG contains a special regulation for the decision- making process . Section 5 ArbGG contains a labor court term for employees on which Sections 2-4 ArbGG are based. A distinction can be made between the general legal recourse responsibility according to Section 2 (1) ArbGG and the special legal recourse competencies according to Section 2 (2) ArbGG, Section 2 (3) ArbGG ( related jurisdiction, contextual action), Section 2 (4) ArbGG and their extensions to legal successors in § 3 ArbGG. The legal regulation is final . It is optional only in the cases of Section 2 (2) and (4) ArbGG.

Material jurisdiction

The labor court of the first instance with legal recourse is always factually responsible. There used to be a dispute as to whether the demarcation between labor jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction is a matter of factual or legal recourse. Since the GVG, this question has been treated as a question of legal recourse, so that one should no longer speak of factual jurisdiction in this regard.

Local jurisdiction

The local jurisdiction is based on § 46 Paragraph 2, § 48 ArbGG, § 495 ZPO in conjunction. § § 12 ff. ZPO. A distinction must be made between the general and a special place of jurisdiction. You can always sue at a general place of jurisdiction . If there is an additional special place of jurisdiction, one has a right to choose that, once exercised, cannot be reversed.

Due to the law amending the Social Court Act and the Labor Court Act of March 26, 2008, a new place of jurisdiction, the place of jurisdiction of the place of work, was introduced with effect from April 1, 2008, Section 48 (1a) ArbGG. Since then, employees can also file a lawsuit against their employer before the labor court in whose district they usually do their work. If the place of work is not also the place of performance, this was not possible until then. This regulation is particularly interesting for sales representatives, as they no longer have to sue their employer at the company's headquarters. The scope of this provision is more limited than it might appear at first glance, so that the basic intention of the legislature to save the employee from going to a possibly very distant labor court cannot always be achieved. Section 48 (1a) sentence 1 ArbGG can only intervene if a focus of the work can be determined in a court district, but is no longer relevant if the work is, as is often the case, regionally limited but distributed over several labor court districts without that a special focus is to be determined. In the case of Section 48 (1a) sentence 2 ArbGG, the focus is generally on the place from which the employee usually carries out his work, e.g. B. the residence of the employee. The basic requirement for this, however, is that at least work is performed there, which can lead to different results.


The procedure is similar to civil proceedings . According to Section 46 (2) of the ArbGG and Section 495 of the German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO), the provisions governing the procedure before the local courts are to be applied accordingly, although shorter deadlines usually apply to the labor court procedure. Arbitration courts§ 1025 ff. ZPO) are largely excluded.

A distinction must be made between the judgment procedure and the decision procedure as permitted types of procedure.

Judgment process

All individual legal proceedings ( Section 2 ArbGG) are pending. As a rule, these are legal disputes between employers and employees over matters relating to the employment relationship and between employers' associations and trade unions . The parties consist of the plaintiff and the defendant. The procedure is initiated by filing a complaint in writing or by filing a complaint at the office of the responsible labor court. After the complaint has been received by the court, the chairman determines a date for the quality negotiation. According to § 61a Abs. 2 ArbGG this should take place two weeks after receipt of the complaint in the case of termination proceedings. In the approval meeting, the chairman of the competent chamber discusses the entire dispute with both parties, taking into account all the circumstances, Section 54 (1) ArbGG. In order to clarify the facts, he can take all actions that can lead to an amicable settlement.

If an amicable agreement cannot be reached during the quality negotiation or if one party does not appear at the appointment, the further disputed negotiation follows. As a rule, however, another date is set. The disputed hearing, including the taking of evidence, takes place at the chamber meeting. The chamber is made up of the chairman and two honorary judges. The decision of the action is issued by judgment of the Chamber. If one party was not present at the disputed hearing, a default judgment is issued at the request of the other party .

Appeal in the judgment process

An appeal can be lodged against the judgment of the labor court if the appeal amount exceeds 600 euros or if it is an appeal about the existence, non-existence or termination of an employment relationship. The previous distinction between property and non-property disputes has been abolished. The labor court can also allow the appeal regardless of the complaint value, § 64 para. 2 ArbGG, z. B. in the case of fundamental importance of the case, cf. MünchAR, Brehm, § 391 Rn. 3 c, 2nd edition.

After § 72 , para. 1 ArbGG of the can against the final judgment Landesarbeitsgericht (LAG), the appeal of the revision to be inserted, when in the judgment of the LAG or in a decision by the Bundesarbeitsgericht (BAG) according to § 72a was admitted 2 ArbGG para. 5 sentence . The LAG has to allow the revision if the legal matter is of fundamental importance and thus serves the legal development. The revision is also to be allowed if the decision of the LAG z. B. deviates from a decision of the BAG, § 72 Abs. 2 Nr. 2 ArbGG.

According to § 76 ArbGG, the jump revision is permissible if the opposing party agrees in writing and it is approved by the labor court upon application in the judgment or subsequently by decision of the labor court. The BAG can only check the judgment of the LAG for legal errors, § 73 ArbGG. The BAG can thus make a final decision or refer the matter back to the LAG for further clarification and renewed negotiation.

Decision-making process

The decision- making procedure, § § 80 ff. ArbGG, is used in accordance with § 2a Paragraph 1 No. 1 ArbGG for legal disputes arising from the Works Constitution Act , the Spokesperson Committee Act , the co-determination laws and decisions on the collective bargaining capacity and responsibility of associations. Here one speaks of collective law proceedings. The application must be submitted in writing to the competent labor court or submitted orally for record. Participants are on one side the applicant and on the other the defendant. The labor court ex officio investigates the facts in the context of the applications. The parties involved have to contribute to the clarification of the facts. According to § 84 ArbGG, the court decides according to its own free conviction based on the overall result of the proceedings. The resolution must be made in writing. According to § 85 ArbGG, enforcement takes place from legally binding decisions through the obligations imposed on a party. According to § 85 Abs. 2 ArbGG the issuance of an injunction is permissible.

Appeal in the decision-making process

A complaint against the decision of the labor court can be lodged with the regional labor court (LAG) within a month, analogous application of § 66 para. 1 sentence 1 ArbGG. A legal complaint can be lodged with the Federal Labor Court (BAG) against decisions of the regional labor court. The same procedural principles apply here as in the judgment process, e.g. B. fundamental importance of the case or different decisions.


Court costs

Special rules also apply to the costs of labor court proceedings ( Section 12 ArbGG).

Court costs are levied in proceedings before the labor courts. The legal basis is the Court Fees Act (GKG) and the Judicial Administration Costs Ordinance (JVKostO).

Court costs are the judicial procedural fee - to be distinguished from the legal procedural fee - and the court expenses.

The procedural fee (part 8 GKG) is a flat-rate amount, the amount of which is based on the amount in dispute . The amount in dispute is the amount in dispute. If the amount in dispute does not result from the claim, it will be determined by the court. In termination matters, the amount in dispute is a maximum of 3 months' earnings.

The judicial procedural fee applies to the entire procedure, i.e. it is independent of the duration or difficulty of the procedure.

If the proceedings are terminated by a court settlement or a settlement communicated to the court, the procedural fee does not apply ("settlement" is the name of a contract in which each litigant has given in). The parties to the litigation then only have to agree who has to bear the judicial expenses (if any). The same applies to a withdrawal of a lawsuit prior to a contested negotiation. After a controversial negotiation, it is reduced by half. If an agreement is reached on the quality date, the procedure usually remains free of charge because the procedural fee is no longer applicable and there have not yet been any significant judicial expenses.

Legal expenses can be: compensation of witnesses, remuneration of experts, copying costs for insufficiently submitted duplicates etc. This point should not be underestimated, because there are definitely cases in which the court expenses can far exceed the procedural fee (e.g. Expert opinion, arrival of a witness from abroad, etc.).

The cost debtor of the court costs is initially the applicant ( Section 2, Paragraph 1 of the GKG), in the case of a court decision, the party to the litigation charged with the costs, Section 29 no. 1 GKG (according to the extent to which they are defeated); also the party to the litigation who accepted it by means of a written declaration to the court, § 29 no. 2 GKG (e.g. for comparison).

However, there is no obligation to make an advance payment at the labor courts. The costs will only be charged after the procedure has ended. The costs are also due if the proceedings are suspended, dormant, interrupted or not carried out for six months ( Section 9 (2) GKG).

Litigation parties who are unable to meet the probable legal costs without impairing their necessary livelihood can be granted legal aid on application . The prerequisite, however, is that the procedure was not willfully initiated and that the intended legal action offers sufficient prospects of success ( Section 11a ArbGG in conjunction with Section 114 ff. ZPO).

Some notes on legal fees

There is no compulsory lawyer before the labor courts, i.e. the parties to the litigation can represent themselves there (otherwise before the regional labor court and the federal labor court); see. Section 11 ArbGG. However, a judicial assignment of a lawyer can take place in individual cases under the conditions of § 11a ArbGG.

If a lawyer is turned on, then the resulting legal fees in labor normally are value fees according to § 13 of the Rechtsanwaltsvergütungsgesetz Act (RVG), that is measured according to the item value (out of court) or dispute (court) ( § 22 RVG). The individual fees are based on Part 3 of the RVG remuneration schedule (VV RVG).

Section 12a of the ArbGG provides, as a special feature and in contrast to civil proceedings, that the respective legal fees of the parties to the dispute are essentially to be borne by the respective litigation party, regardless of how the proceedings proceed. However, this special cost regulation only applies to the first instance before the labor court; however, also for out-of-court attorney fees. In the appeals and in the revision instance, the attorney's fees are divided between the parties to the proceedings depending on whether they have been won or lost.

If the need arises, however, out-of-court counseling and legal aid (see also § 11a ArbGG) can be used.

Instance move

Court organization in Germany (macro level)

The instance consists of 113 labor courts, 18 regional labor courts and the Federal Labor Court, which has its seat in Erfurt.

1st instance: Labor Court

The decisions of the first instance are made by a chairman (professional judge) and two honorary judges who are appointed from among employees and employers. According to Section 17 (2) sentence 1 ArbGG, specialist chambers, e.g. B. for the handicraft. Against judgments of the Labor Court is calling for Landesarbeitsgericht possible, as the Regional Labor Court decides on complaints about decisions of the Labor Court. In the judgment or decision-making procedure before the labor court, the parties involved can appear themselves or be represented by a representative of the trade unions (employees) or employers' associations (employers) as well as a lawyer, Section 11 ArbGG. Chamber legal advisors (§ 209 BRAO) are on an equal footing with lawyers in proceedings before the labor court according to § 3 paragraph 1 RDGEG.

2nd instance: Regional Labor Court

A state labor court has been set up in each of the federal states, only North Rhine-Westphalia (three state labor courts) and Bavaria (two state labor courts) deviate from this. Berlin and Brandenburg have a joint regional labor court. As with the labor court, the chambers of the state labor courts have a chairman (professional judge) and two honorary judges from among employers and employees.

In the judgment and decision-making process, the parties must be represented by a representative of the trade union or an employers' association or by a lawyer as authorized representative ( Section 11 (2) ArbGG).

Appeals can be lodged against decisions of the regional labor court . These are the appeal to the Federal Labor Court and - if the appeal is not admitted - the non-admission complaint. Even legal complaints against decisions of the state labor court are possible.

The second instance is skipped during the jump revision from the labor court to the federal labor court ( § 76 ArbGG).

3rd instance: Federal Labor Court

Federal Labor Court in Erfurt

The Federal Labor Court consists of ten senates. Each of the senates has a chairman (professional judge), two professional judge assessors and two honorary assessors from among employers and employees. In the judgment and decision-making process, each party must be represented by a representative of a trade union or employers' association or by a lawyer. Furthermore, at the Federal Labor Court (BAG) there is the small (e.g. Section 53, Paragraph 1, Sentence 1 and Section 74, Paragraph 2, Sentence 3 of the ArbGG) and the large Senate. The Grand Senate decides if a Senate wishes to deviate from a decision of another Senate or the Grand Senate on a legal issue.

See also


Web links

Commons : Labor Justice  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. On the emergence of the commercial courts in the 19th century cf. Collection of sources on the history of German social policy from 1867 to 1914 , Department I: From the time when the Reich was founded to the Imperial Social Message (1867–1881), Volume 4: Workers' Law, edited by Wolfgang Ayaß , Karl Heinz Nickel and Heidi Winter, Darmstadt 1997; Collection of sources on the history of German social policy from 1867 to 1914, Section II: From the Imperial Social Message to the February Decrees of Wilhelm II (1881–1890), Volume 4: Workers' Law, edited by Wilfried Rudloff, Darmstadt 2008; Collection of sources on the history of German social policy from 1867 to 1914, III. Department: Expansion and differentiation of social policy since the beginning of the New Course (1890–1904), Volume 4, Labor Law, edited by Wilfried Rudloff, Darmstadt 2011.
  2. § 14 Labor Court Act of December 23, 1926, RGBl. I p. 507
  3. Section 33 Labor Court Act of December 23, 1926
  4. § 40 Labor Court Act of December 23, 1926
  5. Number of federal and state courts ( memento from September 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ). BMJV website. Retrieved February 3, 2014.