The High Court has recently decided a significant case in which the legitimacy of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Workplace Relations Act 2015 were challenged.
The Applicant, Mr. Tomasz Zalewski, alleged that the Workplace Relations Act 2015 was invalid and unconstitutional. He contended that the Act confers decision-making functions on Adjudication Officers in, for example, unfair dismissal cases, whereas such powers should be reserved to judges.
A series of arguments on each side were considered by Mr. Justice Simons. He concluded that:
The powers exercised by Adjudication Officers and the Labour Court under the 2015 Act exhibit many of the characteristics of the administration of justice.
Decision-making under the Act, however, lacks one of the essential characteristics of the administration of justice; namely the ability of a decision-maker to enforce its' decisions (because enforcement of decisions is reserved to the District Court).
The constitutional challenge to the legitimacy of the Act should therefore be dismissed.
The full decision in the case of Zalewski v The Workplace Relations Commission and Others,  IEHC 178, is available here.