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DISPUTE SETTLEMENT: PROCEDURES
Appellate procedures

Appeals are conducted according to the procedures established under the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) and the Working Procedures for Appellate Review (Working Procedures). The Working Procedures are drawn up by the Appellate Body in consultation with the Director-General of the WTO and the Chairman of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). They have been amended six times since 1995(1). The first two changes related to the term of office of the Chairman, and the next two amendments enhanced third party participation at the oral hearing. The fifth set of changes modified the required content of a Notice of Appeal, introduced a requirement to file a Notice of Other Appeal and a mechanism for amending Notices of Appeal, and altered certain dates in the timetable for appeals. The most recent amendments were announced on 26 July 2010 in WTO document WT/AB/WP/W/11. The document explains the process leading to the amendments, as well as their substance. The most recent amendments modify the deadlines for written submissions during an appeal and provide for the filing and service of written submissions in electronic form. These amendments take effect for appeals initiated on or after 15 September 2010 and are reflected in the revised, consolidated version of the Working Procedures that was circulated to WTO Members on 16 August 2010 as WTO document WT/AB/WP/6.

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Disclaimer
The pages on this web site regarding the Appellate Body and the Appellate Body Secretariat are intended solely for information. These pages do not constitute an authoritative interpretation of the WTO Agreements, including the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, or the Working Procedures for Appellate Review.


 


The appellate stage may follow the issuance of a report by a panel established pursuant to the DSU. Panel reports must be adopted by the DSB within 60 days of their circulation to WTO Members, unless a party decides to appeal. Parties to a dispute may appeal a panel report at any time before the panel report is adopted by the DSB. Third parties are not entitled to appeal a panel report. In accordance with Article 17.6 of the DSU, appeals are limited to issues of law covered in the panel report and legal interpretations developed by the panel.

An appeal is commenced upon written notification to the DSB and the simultaneous filing of a Notice of Appeal with the Appellate Body Secretariat. A party that files a Notice of Appeal is known as the “appellant”. Rule 20 of the Working Procedures sets out what must be included in a Notice of Appeal.

On the same day the Notice of Appeal is filed, the appellant must also file a written submission pursuant to Rule 21(1) of the Working Procedures. A party to the dispute that wishes to respond to the allegations raised by the appellant may file its own written submission under Rule 22 of the Working Procedures, within 18 days of the date on which the Notice of Appeal and the appellant's submission were filed. A party that files a written submission pursuant to Rule 22 is known as an “appellee”.

The Working Procedures recognize that some disputes may involve multiple appeals. Thus, under Rule 23 of the Working Procedures, a party to the dispute other than the original appellant may also appeal on the same grounds or on other alleged errors by filing a Notice of Other Appeal and a written submission within 5 days of the filing of the Notice of Appeal. This party is known as an “other appellant”. Parties wishing to respond to the allegations raised by the “other appellant” may file a written submission within 18 days of the filing of the Notice of Appeal.

Members that are third parties during the panel process may also file written submissions within 21 days of the date of filing of the Notice of Appeal, pursuant to Rule 24 of the Working Procedures. Although third parties wishing to attend and participate at appellate hearings are encouraged to file written submissions, those that do not may, nevertheless, notify the Appellate Body Secretariat, within the same 21-day period, of their intention to appear at the oral hearing. Third parties that do not file a written submission or a notification within the 21-day period may nevertheless attend the oral hearing at the discretion of the Appellate Body Division (comprising three Appellate Body Members) hearing the appeal. Third parties that file written submissions or appear at the oral hearing are known as “third participants”.

An oral hearing is held for each appeal. At the oral hearing, appellants, other appellants, appellees and third participants are given an opportunity to present oral arguments and to respond to questions put to them by the Appellate Body Division hearing the appeal. The hearing generally takes place within 30 to 45 days of the filing of the Notice of Appeal. Proceedings before the Appellate Body are confidential. Only WTO Members that are appellants, other appellants, appellees or third participants are entitled to attend oral hearings. Nonetheless, in a few instances, at the request of the parties, Appellate Body oral hearings have been opened to the public.

After the oral hearing and before finalizing the Appellate Body Report, the Appellate Body Division hearing the appeal exchanges views with the other four Appellate Body Members in accordance with Rule 4(3) of the Working Procedures.

The Appellate Body Report is circulated to WTO Members in the three official languages of the WTO (English, French, and Spanish) within 90 days of the date when the Notice of Appeal was filed, and it becomes public immediately upon circulation to Members. In its Report, the Appellate Body may uphold, modify or reverse the legal findings and conclusions of the panel.

Within 30 days of the circulation of an Appellate Body Report, the Report, together with the panel report, as upheld, modified, or reversed, will be put on the agenda of a DSB meeting for adoption. The DSB will adopt the reports, unless the DSB decides by consensus not to adopt them—which has never happened. An adopted Appellate Body Report, together with the adopted Panel Report, must be unconditionally accepted by the parties to the dispute.

Article 3.2 of the DSU states that the recommendations and rulings of the DSB cannot add to or diminish the rights and obligations provided in the covered agreements. Article 21.1 of the DSU provides that prompt compliance with the recommendations or rulings of the DSB is essential in order to ensure effective resolution of disputes to the benefit of all WTO Members. The DSB is responsible for maintaining surveillance of the implementation of its rulings and recommendations by WTO Members.

  

Timetable for appeals (2)   back to top

 

 

General Appeals

Prohibited Subsidies Appeals

 

Day

Day

Notice of Appeal (3) 

0

0

Appellant's Submission (4) 

0

0

Notice of Other Appeal (5) 

5 2

Other Appellant(s) Submission(s) (6) 

5

2

Appellee(s) Submission(s)  (7) 
Third Participant(s) Submission(s) (8) 
Third Participant(s) Notification(s)
(9) 

18
21
21

9
10
10

Oral Hearing (10) 

30-45

15-23

Circulation of Appellate Report

60-90 (11) 

30-60 (12) 

DSB Meeting for Adoption

90-120 (13) 

50-80 (14) 

Notes
2. See Annex I to the Working Procedures. back to text
3. Rule 20. back to text
4. Rule 21(1). back to text
5. Rule 23(1). back to text
6. Rule 23(3). back to text
7. Rules 22 and 23(4). back to text
8. Rule 24(1). back to text
 
9. Rule 24(2). back to text
10. Rule 27. back to text
11. Article 17.5 of the DSU. back to text
12. Article 4.9 of the SCM Agreement. back to text
13. Article 17.14 of the DSU. back to text
14. Article 4.9 of the SCM Agreement. back to text

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Notes:
1.
WT/AB/WP/1; WT/AB/WP/2; WT/AB/WP/3; WT/AB/WP/4; WT/AB/WP/5; WT/AB/WP/6.   back to text
  

Timetable summarizing the deadlines applicable in an appeal