Example of Panel Working Procedures

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Panel Report, US — Steel Safeguards,
WT/DS248/R, WT/DS249/R, WT/DS251/R, WT/DS252/R, WT/DS253/R, WT/DS254/R, WT/DS258/R, WT/DS259/R, circulated 11 July 2003, para. 6.1:

  1. In its proceedings the Panel shall follow the relevant provisions of the DSU. In addition, the following working procedures shall apply.
  2. The panel shall meet in closed session. The parties to the dispute, and interested third parties, shall be present at the meetings only when invited by the Panel to appear before it.
  3. The deliberations of the Panel and the documents submitted to it shall be kept confidential. Nothing in the DSU shall preclude a party to a dispute from disclosing statements of its own positions to the public. Members shall treat as confidential information submitted by another Member to the Panel which that Member has designated as confidential. Where a party to a dispute submits a confidential version of its written submissions to the Panel, it shall also, upon request of a Member, provide a non-confidential summary of the information contained in its submissions that could be disclosed to the public.
  4. Before the first substantive meeting of the Panel with the parties, the parties to the dispute shall transmit to the Panel written submissions in which they present the facts of the case and their arguments. Third parties may transmit to the Panel written submissions after the first written submissions of the parties have been submitted.
  5. Within seven days following the date for filing a submission, each of the parties and third parties is invited to provide the Panel with an executive summary of their submissions. The executive summaries will be used only for the purpose of assisting the Panel in drafting a concise factual and arguments section of the Panel report to the Members. They shall not in any way serve as a substitute for the submissions of the parties in the Panel’s examination of the case. The executive summary to be provided by each party should not exceed 15 pages in length and shall summarize the content of the written submissions. In relation to the executive summaries to be provided by the United States, it is allowed an additional 15 pages to address issues that have been raised in the submissions of one or more of the other parties that are specific to those parties and which are not common to the other parties. The summary to be provided by each third party shall summarize their written submissions, as applicable, and should not exceed 5 pages in length.
  6. At its first substantive meeting with the parties, the Panel shall ask the Complaining Parties to present their cases. Subsequently, and still at the same meeting, the United States will be asked to present its point of view. The parties will then be allowed an opportunity for final statements, with the Complaining Parties presenting their statements first.
  7. All third parties which have notified their interest in the dispute to the Dispute Settlement Body shall be invited in writing to present their views during a session of the first substantive meeting of the Panel set aside for that purpose. All such third parties may be present during the entirety of this session.
  8. Formal rebuttals shall be made at a second substantive meeting of the Panel. The United States shall have the right to take the floor first, to be followed by the Complaining Parties. The parties shall submit, prior to that meeting, written rebuttals and executive summaries to the Panel.
  9. The Panel may at any time put questions to the parties and to the third parties and ask them for explanations either in the course of a meeting or in writing. Answers to questions shall be submitted in writing by the date(s) specified by the Panel. Answers to questions after the first meeting shall be submitted in writing, at a date to be determined by the Panel.
  10. A party shall submit any request for a preliminary ruling not later than its first submission to the Panel. If the Complaining Parties request such a ruling, the United States shall submit its response to the request in its first submission. If the United States requests such a ruling, the Complaining Parties shall submit their responses to the request prior to the first substantive meeting of the Panel, at a time to be determined by the Panel in light of the request. Exceptions to this procedure will be granted upon a showing of good cause.
  11. Parties shall submit all factual evidence to the Panel no later than during the first substantive meeting, except with respect to evidence necessary for purposes of rebuttal submissions, or answers to questions or provided that good cause is shown. In all cases, the other party(ies) shall be accorded a period of time for comment, as appropriate.
  12. The parties to the dispute have the right to determine the composition of their own delegations. The parties shall have the responsibility for all members of their delegations and shall ensure that all members of the delegation act in accordance with the rules of the DSU and the Working Procedures of this Panel, particularly in regard to confidentiality of the proceedings.
  13. The parties to the dispute and any third party invited to present its views shall make available to the Panel and the parties to the dispute a written version of their oral statements, preferably at the end of the meeting, and in any event not later than the day following the meeting. Parties and third parties are encouraged to provide the Panel and other participants in the meeting with a provisional written version of their oral statements at the time the oral statement is presented.
  14. In the interest of full transparency, the presentations, rebuttals and statements shall be made in the presence of the parties. Moreover, each party’s written submissions, including responses to questions put by the Panel, shall be made available to the other party or parties.
  15. To facilitate the maintenance of the record of the dispute, and to maximize the clarity of submissions, in particular the references to exhibits submitted by parties, parties shall sequentially number their exhibits throughout the course of the dispute. For example, exhibits submitted by the United States could be numbered USA-1, USA-2, etc. If the last exhibit in connection with the first submission was numbered USA-5, the first exhibit of the next submission thus would be numbered USA-6.
  16. Following issuance of the interim report, the parties shall have one week to submit written requests to review precise aspects of the interim report — unless the Panel decides otherwise at the second substantive meeting of the parties and/or to request a further meeting with the Panel. The right to request such a meeting must be exercised no later than at that time. Following receipt of any written requests for review, if no further meeting with the Panel is requested, the parties shall have the opportunity, within 2 weeks, to submit written comments on the other party’s written requests for review. Such comments shall be strictly limited to responding to the other party’s or parties’ written request for review.
  17. The following procedures regarding service of documents shall apply:
    1. Each party shall serve its submissions directly on the other party. Each party shall, in addition, serve its first written submission on third parties. Each third party shall serve its submissions on the parties and other third parties. Parties and third parties shall confirm, at the time a submission is provided to the Panel, that copies have been served as required.
    2. The parties and the third parties shall provide their written submissions to the Dispute Settlement Registrar by 5:30 p.m. on the deadlines established by the Panel and by 5:00 p.m. if the deadline falls on a Friday. If, due to exceptional circumstances, it is not possible for submissions to be provided to the Registrar by the times stipulated, parties should agree otherwise with the Secretary to the Panel, Ms Dariel De Sousa. The parties and the third parties shall provide the Panel with 10 paper copies of their written submissions. All these copies must be filed with the Dispute Settlement Registrar, Mr. Ferdinand Ferranco (Office 3154).
    3. Ten copies of all submissions (oral and written), exhibits and other documents relating to this dispute must be submitted to the Panel through the (WTO) Secretariat when the original documents are filed with the Secretariat.
    4. At the time they provide paper copies of their submissions, the parties and third parties shall also provide the Panel with an electronic copy of the submissions on a diskette or as an e-mail attachment, in a format compatible with the Secretariat’s software (e-mail to the Dispute Settlement Registrar ..., with a copy to the Secretary to the Panel, ...).



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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.

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