On 9 December, the Versailles Appeal Court delivered a ruling on the dispute that arose between the Atos EWC (Atos SE Council) and the management of the digital services group Atos SE (107,000 employees). The company had previously decided to dissolve its Council.
Article 23 para. 4 of the agreement states that “in the event of notification of termination, both parties will immediately commence the renegotiation process”. However, management decided to dissolve the Council after the six-months negotiation ended fruitless. Accordingly, the article states that “until both parties have signed a new agreement, this agreement shall prevail”.
The case was referred in the form of urgent proceedings to the Pontoise court in France, which held that dissolving the Council did not constitute a manifestly unlawful disruptive action, but at the same time ruled that this clause was subject to interpretation.
Now, the Versailles Appeal Court ruled against the former interpretation. In practice, the Court ruled as follows:
a) dissolving the Atos SE Council was unlawful and it must be reinstated, including the mandates held by all of its members;
b) the agreement establishing the Council will remain valid on a temporary basis until at least March 2022, i.e. until the end of the period allowed for negotiating a new agreement (or until September 2022 at the latest, if the parties decide to extend the negotiations);
c) if no agreement is reached by the end of this negotiation period, management will have to set up a SE Council based on the subsidiary provisions of the directive.