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The law on consultation in the event of redundancy developed as a response to European Community obligations contained in the European Directive on Approximation of Laws Relating to Redundancies.32 The provisions of this Directive were enacted into domestic law during the period of the Social Contract as ss 99-107 of the Employment Protection Act 1975;33 now found in ss 188-92 of the TULR(C)A 1992 as amended by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 and by the Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 199534 and 1999.35

Throughout the 1980s, there was persistent criticism that the UK had not correctly implemented the Directive.36 As a consequence, the European Commission in 1992 initiated infringement proceedings against the UK on the grounds that the domestic law defined redundancy dismissals too narrowly; failed to ensure that effective sanctions were in place to deter breach of the consultation provisions; did not require employers to consult ‘with a view to reaching agreement’ and supply the degree of information as prescribed in the Directive; and omitted to lay down appropriate consultation provisions where there was no recognised union at the place of work.