The Supreme Court has delivered a ruling with key implications for the future operation of the State’s workplace dispute resolution process.

The court said on Thursday (15/04/21) it expected its observations about the need for “enhanced independence” by adjudication officers (AOs) of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) “will be taken on board” considering findings the WRC is applying limited powers of administration of justice.

This followed delivery of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Zalewski v. Adjudication Officer and WRC, Ireland and the Attorney General [2021] IESC 24 on 6 April 2021. This historic decision by the Supreme Court declared that laws placing an absolute ban on employment disputes being heard in public is unconstitutional.

The court made the declaration that certain provisions of the 2015 Workplace Relations Act are repugnant to the constitution when ruling on an appeal brought by Tomasz Zalewski who claimed he was unfairly dismissed from his job at a convenience store over the constitutionality of new procedures for determining workplace disputes.

The core issue before the Supreme Court was whether the WRC process amounted to the administration of justice – required under Article 34 of the Constitution to be administered by judges – and whether the statutory framework adequately vindicated a claimant’s rights.

The majority held the process involved the exercise of limited powers of administration of justice within the meaning of Article 37 and thus not unconstitutional. The finding in favour of Mr Zalewski to the effect the administration of justice was involved was “of real significance”, the court said in its ruling on Thursday.

The public interest nature of the proceedings, and the significant success Mr Zaleswski had achieved in the Supreme Court appeal, entitled him to his full costs in the High and Supreme Courts. The judgement was delivered electronically and the Supreme Court will deal with any issue arising out of its decision later this month.

Further details on this judgement can be found on the WRC website:

Supreme Court judgment in relation to the Workplace Relations Act 2015 and related statutes – Workplace Relations Commission


NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website, or email