Federation of European Employers unveils litigation hotspots

The
Netherlands,
Belgium
and Poland
top the league for the most employment cases taken per employee.

A
typical large company in Belgium
can expect to defend 28 court cases brought by present or former employees
every year, while a similar firm in Sweden
faces an average of only one case every 10 years.

According
to the Federation of European Employers (FedEE), Belgium
ranks with Poland
and the Netherlands
as one of the three litigation capitals of Europe,
while employers in Sweden
and Finland
rarely need to enter a courtroom.

So
what makes employees so keen to go to law in some countries and not in others?
In Scandinavia, despite the mass
of employment legislation, there are many ways for employees to resolve
disputes without the need for court action. In Belgium,
however, although it is relatively easy for employers to dismiss staff, there
is no formal system for dispute resolution outside the courts.

In
The Netherlands, litigation figures tend to be inflated by the need for
permission from a court or the regional employment authorities before an
employee may be dismissed. In the Slovak
Republic,
the volume of cases is affected by the sheer amount of time taken to get
through the courts – an average of 22 months. And if formal conciliation
processes do not work, they will in themselves serve to delay litigation – a
particular problem in Poland,
Spain
and Italy.

UK
employers often complain that they face an excess of tribunal applications, but
the number is modest by European standards and only one in every four
applications leads to a tribunal hearing.

From
October 2004, the number of UK
applications can be expected to fall as statutory dispute resolution procedures
take effect.

View
the league table on FedEE’s website at http://www.fedee.com/litigation.shtml

By Quentin Reade

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