France: Is Paris Burning? France Considers Whether Damages For Employee Dismissals Should Be Capped

Last Updated: 8 February 2019
Article by Jean-Marc Albiol

The latest version of Article L. 1235-3 of the French Labor Code, based on the "Macron Ordinances," has recently been the subject of major dispute, with several labor tribunals issuing conflicting decisions.

The article limits a judge's ability to determine compensation for an employee whose dismissal has been recognized as having no "real and serious" cause. It caps the damages awarded at an amount between 0.5 months' salary (for an employee with less than one year of continuous service) and 20 months' salary (for an employee with more than 29 years of continuous service).

However, this system is not applicable in a number of cases, particularly where the dismissal is declared null and void because, for example, of a "violation of a basic human right," an "act of harassment," or its "discriminatory" nature.

By introducing this new system, the government intended to "remove uncertainty" about the "cost of a termination" by allowing the employer to anticipate the risk incurred if the dismissal was found to be without real and serious cause (Report to the President of the Republic on Order No. 2017-1387 of 22 September 2017 on the predictability and security of labor relations).

However, in a series of decisions issued in December 2018 and January 2019, labor courts have ruled that this system conflicts with several international conventions applicable in France.

Even if the Constitutional Council had approved, both in principle (C.C., 2017-751 DC of 7 September 2017) and in its implementation (C.C., 2018-761 DC of 21 March 2018), the concept of a cap on compensation for damage caused by the fault of an employer, it is not up to the Council to ensure compliance of this system with the international agreements ratified by France.

It is judges who are responsible for checking that the system established by the labor tribunal complies with the international conventions applicable in France.

However, Article 10 of Convention 158 of the International Labour Organization stipulates that a judge who finds that a dismissal is unjustified, but does not propose reinstatement of the employee to his or her original position, must be able to order the "payment of adequate compensation or such other relief as may be deemed appropriate." Similarly, Article 24 of the European Social Charter provides for the "the right of workers whose employment is terminated without a valid reason to adequate compensation or other appropriate relief."

Considering these stipulations, two labor tribunals (Le Mans and Caen, the latter being ruled by a professional judge) adopted the applicable scale, considering that it provided for "appropriate" compensation for damages.

By contrast, the labor tribunals of Troyes, Amiens, Lyon, Grenoble, and Angers decided, in highly publicized decisions, not to apply the mandatory scale stipulated by Article L. 1235-3. As a result, they granted compensation in excess of the legal maximum. None of these five cases fell into the provided categories allowing a judge to exceed this maximum.

At present, while other councils could follow this reasoning, the impact remains limited. The Administrative Supreme Court has already been called upon in urgent situations to rule on the validity of these measures. It considered that because of the possibility of deviation from the scale when the dismissal is deemed null and void, so that the scale is compliant with the stipulations of the conventions (CE, 7 December 2017, CGT, N° 415243).

It will be up to the Courts of Appeal and then to the Court of Cassation, France's Supreme Court, to decide whether it is appropriate to continue to apply this system or whether the international conventions ratified by France require that it be overruled.

Pending these decisions, the possibility that the scale is inapplicable may divide the courts and create judicial uncertainty in labor tribunal disputes. The underlying objective of legal certainty is therefore, at least temporarily, severely compromised: neither employees nor employers can use this scale to assess with certainty the chances of profit or the risks involved when making a decision on any given dismissal.

A rapid resolution would be desirable. To this end, referral to the Court of Cassation for a legal opinion in accordance with the provisions of Article L. 441-1 of the Code of Judicial Organization and Article 1031-1 of the Code of Civil Procedure (referral for an opinion) might have seemed particularly appropriate if the Court of Cassation had not recently refused to grant such an opinion regarding the compliance to conventional rules of another legal text (Cass, avis, 12 juillet 2017, 17-70.009).

Thus, it can only be hoped that a litigant whose rights are "imperiled" by a ruling requests that a Court of Appeals set a day for a priority hearing (Article 917 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Such proceedings would reduce the delay before the appeal hearing and would provide a finer outlook on the future of the mandatory scale.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions