Decision of 12 April 1989 on improvements to the GATT dispute settlement rules and procedures

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(BISD 36S/61)

Following the meetings of the Trade Negotiations Committee at Ministerial level in December 1988 and at the level of high officials in April 1989, the CONTRACTING PARTIES to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

Approve the improvements of the GATT dispute settlement rules and procedures set out below and their application on the basis set out in this Decision:

G.    Adoption of Panel Reports

  1. In order to provide sufficient time for the members of the Council to consider panel reports, the reports shall not be considered for adoption by the Council until thirty days after they have been issued to the Contracting Parties.
  2. Contracting parties having objections to panel reports shall give written reasons to explain their objections for circulation at least ten days prior to the Council meeting at which the panel report will be considered.
  3. The parties to a dispute shall have the right to participate fully in the consideration of the panel report by the Council, and their views shall be fully recorded. The practice of adopting panel reports by consensus shall be continued, without prejudice to the GATT provisions on decision-making which remain applicable. However, the delaying of the process of dispute settlement shall be avoided.
  4. The period from the request under Article XXII:1 or Article XXIII:1 until the Council takes a decision on the panel report shall not, unless agreed to by the parties, exceed fifteen months. The provisions of this paragraph shall not affect the provisions of paragraph 6 of Section F(f).

H.    Technical Assistance

  1. While the Secretariat assists Contracting Parties in respect of dispute settlement at their request, there may also be a need to provide additional legal advice and assistance in respect of dispute settlement to developing Contracting Parties. To this end, the Secretariat shall make available a qualified legal expert within the Technical Co-operation Division to any developing contracting party which so requests. This expert shall assist the developing contracting party in a manner ensuring the continued impartiality of the Secretariat.
  2. The Secretariat shall conduct special training courses for interested Contracting Parties concerning GATT dispute settlement procedures and practices so as to enable Contracting Partiesí experts to be better informed in this regard.

I.    Surveillance of Implementation of Recommendations and Rulings

  1. Prompt compliance with recommendations or rulings of the CONTRACTING PARTIES under Article XXIII is essential in order to ensure effective resolution of disputes to the benefit of all Contracting Parties.
  2. The contracting party concerned shall inform the Council of its intentions in respect of implementation of the recommendations or rulings. If it is impracticable to comply immediately with the recommendations or rulings, the contracting party concerned shall have a reasonable period of time in which to do so.
  3. The Council shall monitor the implementation of recommendations or rulings adopted under Article XXIII:2. The issue of implementation of the recommendations or rulings may be raised at the Council by any contracting party at any time following their adoption. Unless the Council decides otherwise, the issue of implementation of the recommendations or rulings shall be on the agenda of the Council meeting after six months following their adoption and shall remain on the Councilís agenda until the issue is resolved. At least ten days prior to each such Council meeting, the contracting party concerned shall provide the Council with a status report in writing of its progress in the implementation of the panel recommendations or rulings.
  4. In cases brought by developing Contracting Parties, the Council shall consider what further action it might take which would be appropriate to the circumstances, in conformity with paragraphs 21 and 23 of the 1979 Understanding regarding Notification, Consultation, Dispute Settlement and Surveillance (BISD 26S/214).

The footnote to paragraph F(a) provides: References to the Council, made in this paragraph as well as in the following paragraphs, are without prejudice to the competence of the CONTRACTING PARTIES, for which the Council is empowered to act in accordance with normal GATT practice (BISD 26S/215).



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This interactive training module is based on the “Handbook on the WTO Dispute Settlement System” published in 2004. The second edition of this handbook published in 2017 can be found at here.

Chapters done:

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