AuthorJustesen, Pia
The national legal system
The basic law of Denmark is the current Constitution, which was adopted by r eferendum
in 1953. This is the lat est successor to the 1849 Constitution. The Con stitution sets out
the essential rules governing the most important institutions of the state, the
Government, the Parliament and the judiciary, as well as the relationship between these
National legislative authority rests jointly with the Government and the Parliament.
The legal system is a continental system following primarily German traditions.
Fundamental legal principles are la id down by the Constitution in very general terms.
Constitutional rules are expounded in laws, while detailed regulation is provided by
administrative orders (delegated/secondary legislation). In contrast to the German legal
system, however, Denmark has no Constitutional Court. The Supreme Court has
traditionally be en very reluctant to use its power to annul laws that may contradict the
The legal system is structured into legal fields (criminal law, civil law, labour law,
administrative law, etc.), and anti-discrimination laws are represented in all fields.
Public authorities are governed by a general principle of equality applicable under
administrative law. The general principle has the force of legislation (and not
constitutional law) and means that public authoritie s must treat equal matters with full
equality before the law.
The Danish p rivate and public labour market has traditionally been based on the Danish
model’, as it is known. This means a labour market that is largely regulated by collective
agreements between the lab our market social partners. A specialised Labour Court exists
to resolve conflicts between the social partners regarding breaches of collective
agreements. Anti-discrimination is also to some degr ee covere d by collective
agreements, for example the question of equal pay.
The Board of Equal Treatment was established on 1 January 2009 to deal with individual
complaints of discrimination.
The Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR) holds two EU mandates as a specialised
equality body on race or ethnic origin as well as on gender. In addition, the DIHR
monitors the Danish implementation of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons wit h
Disabilities in accordance with Article 33 of the Convention.
Denmark is a member of the Council of Europe and has acceded to the European
Convention on Human Rights and all of its protocols, apart from Protocol 12. The
European Convention on Human Rights is the only human rights convention currently
incorporated in Danish law.
With regard to unincorporated and ratified human rights conventions, it is generally
assumed that they constitute a relevant source of law, which may be invoked and must
be applied by national courts and administrative authorities.
List of main legislation transposing and implementing the directives
The Act on the Prohibition of Discrimination due to Race etc. (Lov om forbud mod
forskelsbehandling på grund af race m.v.) is a penal code. It covers the following
grounds of discrimination: race, skin colour, n ational or ethnic origin, belief an d sexual

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