Bundesarbeitsgericht - Federal Labour Court 

Senates and Registry

1. Senates

Jurisdiction is carried out by the Senates. They are made up of one chair, two further judges and two lay members representing the employers' and employees' sides respectively.

Currently, there are ten Senates at the Federal Labour Court. The schedule of responsibilities, which is set up annually, specifies to which Senate each judge and each lay member is assigned. According to Section 21e of the Courts Act, the schedule of responsibilities is adopted by the Presiding Board of the Court on an annual basis.

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2. Grand Senate

A special panel of the Federal Labour Court is the Grand Senate, which comprises one judge from each of the Senates including the President of the Federal Labour Court as well as three lay members representing the employers’ side and three lay members representing the employees’ side. The schedule of responsibilities specifies the members of the Grand Senate.

The Grand Senate has jurisdiction when a Senate plans to deviate from a previous ruling by another Senate or by the Grand Senate. Additionally, the Grand Senate decides on matters of fundamental legal significance if it is necessary to further develop the law or to ensure the consistency of court decisions.

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3. Judges

The Judges of the Federal Labour Court are appointed for life. At the time of appointment they must be qualified to hold judicial office and be at least 35 years of age.

Judges are chosen jointly by the competent Federal Minister and a committee for the selection of judges consisting of the competent Land ministers and an equal number of members elected by parliament. The judges are then appointed as "Judges at the Federal Labour Court" by the Federal President.

Judges are assigned to the Senates as outlined in the schedule of responsibilities.

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4. Lay Members

Lay members at the Federal Labour Court are appointed by the competent ministry for 5 years. They can be re-appointed. Lay members must be at least 35 years of age. They must have good knowledge and experience of employment issues and employment law. They should have a minimum of 5 years experience of working as lay members at a Labour Court or Land Labour Court and they should have worked in the capacity of an employer or an employee respectively for a long time. Lay members are appointed on the basis of recommendations by trade unions and employer associations.

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5. Research Associates

The Senates are assisted by research associates, qualified junior staff from the judiciary of the 16 federal states, who are usually seconded to the Federal Labour Court for two years. Their main task is to produce studies and reports on specific cases in preparation of the hearing.

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6. Registry of the Federal Labour Court

According to Section 7 of the Labour Courts Act and Section 153 of the Courts Act, the Federal Labour Court has established a Registry. It is divided into several Senate Registries, each one supporting one specific Senate. Senate Registries are staffed with civil servants from executive and clerical grades.

In the registry, clerical officers are responsible for maintaining the case-files for pending cases. Additionally, they act as authenticating officials and make orders for payment of costs. The civil servants from the executive grades support the Senates in performing their judicial functions. They act as registrars and carry out other tasks such as dealing with legal aid applications, checking the admissibility of cases and, if appropriate, preparing decisions based on the inadmissibility of the case. They are also charged with proof-reading the judgments and with the formal verification of all quoted references in these judgments.

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