1.1 Basic structure of the national legal system
Irish law consists of a written Constitution.1 The Government in Ireland is divided between
a legislature, executive and judiciary. The n ational legislature (the Oireachtas) comprises
the President of Ireland and two houses, namely th e upper chamber Seanad Éireann and
the lower house Dáil Éireann. The judicial system2 comprises courts of first instance an d
courts of appeal. The c ourts of first instance comprise the High Court, th e Circuit Court
and the District Court. There is also the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court (which in
the main deals with constitutional cases and matters of public importance). There are also
criminal courts to include the Central Criminal Court and a Special Criminal Court.
Most employment and equality disputes are dealt with by adjudication bodies specifically
legislated to determine employment and equality disputes. Commencin g 1 October 2015,
all employment and equality claims are h eard by an adjudication officer of the Workplace
Relations Commission. Decisions of an adjudication officer may be appealed to the Labour
Court and may be appealed on a point of law only to the High Court. 3
Sources of Irish law comprise EU law, constitutional law, legislation and the common law.
Throughout the text there is reference to the various adjudication bodies. For clarification,
for claims initiated on or after 1 October 2015, claims are made to the Director General of
the Workplace Relations Commission4 who then delegates the hearing of the claim to an
adjudication officer whose decision may be appealed to t he Labour Court. For claims
initiated prior to 1 October 2015, clai ms were referred to the Director of the Equality
Tribunal who delegated the investigation thereof to an equality officer whose decision may
have be en appealed to the Labour C ourt; in dismis sal cases, reference may have b een
made to a rights commissioner or to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
1.2 List of main legislation transposing and implementing the directives
All Acts from 1922-2019 and statutory instruments (from 1922-2019) are available on
Consolidated employment legislation is available on www.w estlaw.ie/, a commercial
- The Employment Equality Act 1998 (in effect 18 October 1998) as amended by the
Equality Act 2004 (in effect 18 July 2004), the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions)
Act 2008, the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act
2010, the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, and the Equality
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 (the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2015);
- The Equal Status Act 2000 (in effect 25 October 2000), as amended by the
Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003, the Equality Act 2004 (in effect 18 July 2004), the Civil
Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008, the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights
and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act
2011, the Equal St atus (Amendment) Act 201 2, and the Equality (Miscellaneous
Provisions) Act 2015 (Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2015); the National Minimum Wage
1 Bunreacht na hÉireann (Constitution of Ireland) 1937.
2 Articles 34-37 of the Constitution.
3 The Workplace Relations Act 2015 set up this new adjudication system. In this paper, there is reference to
the Equality Tribunal; this body will be dissolved when all claims initiated prior to 1 October 2015 have
been heard. There are some other more minor procedural issues, for example, a decision of an adjudication
officer under the Equal Status Act 2000 is appealed to the Circuit Court.
4 Workplace Relations Act 2015.
5 Revised statutes are available on the website of the Law Reform Commission