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The roles, resources and competencies of employee lay judges: A cross-national study of Germany, France and Great Britain

The roles, resources and competencies of employee lay judges: A cross-national study of Germany, France and Great Britain

Burgess, Peter, Corby, Susan, Höland, Armin, Michel, Hélène, Willemez, Laurent, Buchwald, Christina and Krausbeck, Elisabeth (2017) The roles, resources and competencies of employee lay judges: A cross-national study of Germany, France and Great Britain. [Working Paper]

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Abstract

This research project analysed and compared the roles, resources and competencies of lay judges in Germany, France and Great Britain, where lay judges take up their role through nationally distinctive routes: nomination essentially by the social partners in Germany, self-nomination in Great Britain and election in France. The primary research consisted of qualitative data collected through interviews, set against contextual information on national institutional arrangements, industrial relations, This research project analysed and compared the roles, resources and competencies of lay judges in Germany, France and Great Britain, where lay judges take up their role through nationally distinctive routes: nomination essentially by the social partners in Germany, self-nomination in Great Britain and election in France. The primary research consisted of qualitative data collected through interviews, set against contextual information on national institutional arrangements, industrial relations, and court procedures. The key findings are as follows:
• The dominant influence on lay judge’s reported perception of their role is their experience of the prevailing industrial relations system in each country, mediated by the labour court structure. Routes to nomination not only reflect national systems but may reinforce them and have a bearing on employee lay judges’ sense of organisational allegiance.
• While acknowledging distinct employer and employee perspectives, there was an aspiration to be impartial and a commitment to fairness. This was most unambiguously expressed in Germany and Great Britain. In France, deliberations were sometimes reported as resembling a negotiation between employee and employer lay judges, but one that had to culminate in a legally correct judgment. Very few employee lay judge interviewees reported that they experienced enduring dissonance between sitting on the employee side in the court and their role as a lay judge, although this was noted by several at the outset.
• Our interview findings from lay and professional judges indicated that lay judges bring distinctive knowledge. Some of this knowledge is explicit and often specific. Lay knowledge is often tacit, however, and acquired through long exposure to workplace events. Such knowledge was valued by many professional judge interviewees as adding an extra dimension to decision-making and was seen by near-ly all our interviewees as the main contribution of lay judges to the judicial process. Crucially tacit knowledge is a form of understanding that needs to be elicited in the process of deliberations, rather than as evidence provided by an expert witness. As well as bringing knowledge to the court, lay judges also reported that they could enhance their representational and personal-professional skills by transferring knowledge and experience acquired in court back to the work-place.
• Gender played some role in the motivation to become a lay judge in Great Britain and in how lay judges assessed their contribution in Germany. Some female interviewees in Britain reported that work-place problems they had personally experienced had contributed to their motivation to become a lay judge. In Germany, there were some differences between men and women in their views of the nature of their contribution: whereas men tended to emphasise the specialist knowledge they could bring to bear in deliberations, women highlighted a ‘social perspective’.

Item Type: Working Paper
Uncontrolled Keywords: Judicial administrators; Labour courts
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Last Modified: 14 May 2018 09:17
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/17971

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