Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization
Annex 2: Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes
Article 9: Procedures for Multiple Complainants
1. Where more than one Member requests the establishment of a
panel related to the same matter, a single panel may be established
to examine these complaints taking into account the rights of
all Members concerned. A single panel should be established to
examine such complaints whenever feasible.
2. The single panel shall organize its examination and present
its findings to the DSB in such a manner that the rights which
the parties to the dispute would have enjoyed had separate panels
examined the complaints are in no way impaired. If one of the
parties to the dispute so requests, the panel shall submit separate
reports on the dispute concerned. The written submissions by each
of the complainants shall be made available to the other complainants,
and each complainant shall have the right to be present when any
one of the other complainants presents its views to the panel.
3. If more than one panel is established to examine the complaints
related to the same matter, to the greatest extent possible the
same persons shall serve as panelists on each of the separate
panels and the timetable for the panel process in such disputes
shall be harmonized.
Article 10: Third Parties
1. The interests of the parties to a dispute and those of other
Members under a covered agreement at issue in the dispute shall
be fully taken into account during the panel process.
2. Any Member having a substantial interest in a matter before
a panel and having notified its interest to the DSB (referred
to in this Understanding as a "third party") shall have
an opportunity to be heard by the panel and to make written submissions
to the panel. These submissions shall also be given to the parties
to the dispute and shall be reflected in the panel report.
3. Third parties shall receive the submissions of the parties
to the dispute to the first meeting of the panel.
4. If a third party considers that a measure already the subject
of a panel proceeding nullifies or impairs benefits accruing to
it under any covered agreement, that Member may have recourse
to normal dispute settlement procedures under this Understanding.
Such a dispute shall be referred to the original panel wherever
Article 11: Function of Panels
The function of panels is to assist the DSB in discharging its
responsibilities under this Understanding and the covered agreements.
Accordingly, a panel should make an objective assessment of the
matter before it, including an objective assessment of the facts
of the case and the applicability of and conformity with the relevant
covered agreements, and make such other findings as will assist
the DSB in making the recommendations or in giving the rulings
provided for in the covered agreements. Panels should consult
regularly with the parties to the dispute and give them adequate
opportunity to develop a mutually satisfactory solution.
Article 12: Panel Procedures
1. Panels shall follow the Working Procedures in Appendix 3 unless
the panel decides otherwise after consulting the parties to the
2. Panel procedures should provide sufficient flexibility so
as to ensure high-quality panel reports, while not unduly delaying
the panel process.
3. After consulting the parties to the dispute, the panelists
shall, as soon as practicable and whenever possible within one
week after the composition and terms of reference of the panel
have been agreed upon, fix the timetable for the panel process,
taking into account the provisions of paragraph 9 of Article 4,
4. In determining the timetable for the panel process, the panel
shall provide sufficient time for the parties to the dispute to
prepare their submissions.
5. Panels should set precise deadlines for written submissions
by the parties and the parties should respect those deadlines.
6. Each party to the dispute shall deposit its written submissions
with the Secretariat for immediate transmission to the panel and
to the other party or parties to the dispute. The complaining
party shall submit its first submission in advance of the responding
party's first submission unless the panel decides, in fixing the
timetable referred to in paragraph 3 and after consultations with
the parties to the dispute, that the parties should submit their
first submissions simultaneously. When there are sequential arrangements
for the deposit of first submissions, the panel shall establish
a firm time period for receipt of the responding party's submission.
Any subsequent written submissions shall be submitted simultaneously.
7. Where the parties to the dispute have failed to develop a mutually
satisfactory solution, the panel shall submit its findings in
the form of a written report to the DSB. In such cases, the report
of a panel shall set out the findings of fact, the applicability
of relevant provisions and the basic rationale behind any findings
and recommendations that it makes. Where a settlement of the matter
among the parties to the dispute has been found, the report of
the panel shall be confined to a brief description of the case
and to reporting that a solution has been reached.
8. In order to make the procedures more efficient, the period
in which the panel shall conduct its examination, from the date
that the composition and terms of reference of the panel have
been agreed upon until the date the final report is issued to
the parties to the dispute, shall, as a general rule, not exceed
six months. In cases of urgency, including those relating to perishable
goods, the panel shall aim to issue its report to the parties
to the dispute within three months.
9. When the panel considers that it cannot issue its report within
six months, or within three months in cases of urgency, it shall
inform the DSB in writing of the reasons for the delay together
with an estimate of the period within which it will issue its
report. In no case should the period from the establishment of
the panel to the circulation of the report to the Members exceed
10. In the context of consultations involving a measure taken
by a developing country Member, the parties may agree to extend
the periods established in paragraphs 7 and 8 of Article 4. If,
after the relevant period has elapsed, the consulting parties
cannot agree that the consultations have concluded, the Chairman
of the DSB shall decide, after consultation with the parties,
whether to extend the relevant period and, if so, for how long.
In addition, in examining a complaint against a developing country
Member, the panel shall accord sufficient time for the developing
country Member to prepare and present its argumentation. The provisions
of paragraph 1 of Article 20 and paragraph 4 of Article 21 are
not affected by any action pursuant to this paragraph.
11. Where one or more of the parties is a developing country Member,
the panel's report shall explicitly indicate the form in which
account has been taken of relevant provisions on differential
and more-favourable treatment for developing country Members that
form part of the covered agreements which have been raised by
the developing country Member in the course of the dispute settlement
12. The panel may suspend its work at any time at the request
of the complaining party for a period not to exceed 12 months.
In the event of such a suspension, the time-frames set out in
paragraphs 8 and 9 of this Article, paragraph 1 of Article 20,
and paragraph 4 of Article 21 shall be extended by the amount
of time that the work was suspended. If the work of the panel
has been suspended for more than 12 months, the authority for
establishment of the panel shall lapse.
Article 13: Right to Seek Information
1. Each panel shall have the right to seek information and technical
advice from any individual or body which it deems appropriate.
However, before a panel seeks such information or advice from
any individual or body within the jurisdiction of a Member it
shall inform the authorities of that Member. A Member should respond
promptly and fully to any request by a panel for such information
as the panel considers necessary and appropriate. Confidential
information which is provided shall not be revealed without formal
authorization from the individual, body, or authorities of the
Member providing the information.
2. Panels may seek information from any relevant source and may
consult experts to obtain their opinion on certain aspects of
the matter. With respect to a factual issue concerning a scientific
or other technical matter raised by a party to a dispute, a panel
may request an advisory report in writing from an expert review
group. Rules for the establishment of such a group and its procedures
are set forth in Appendix 4.
Article 14: Confidentiality
1. Panel deliberations shall be confidential.
2. The reports of panels shall be drafted without the presence
of the parties to the dispute in the light of the information
provided and the statements made.
3. Opinions expressed in the panel report by individual panelists
shall be anonymous.
Article 15: Interim Review Stage
1. Following the consideration of rebuttal submissions and oral
arguments, the panel shall issue the descriptive (factual and
argument) sections of its draft report to the parties to the dispute.
Within a period of time set by the panel, the parties shall submit
their comments in writing.
2. Following the expiration of the set period of time for receipt
of comments from the parties to the dispute, the panel shall issue
an interim report to the parties, including both the descriptive
sections and the panel's findings and conclusions. Within a period
of time set by the panel, a party may submit a written request
for the panel to review precise aspects of the interim report
prior to circulation of the final report to the Members. At the
request of a party, the panel shall hold a further meeting with
the parties on the issues identified in the written comments.
If no comments are received from any party within the comment
period, the interim report shall be considered the final panel
report and circulated promptly to the Members.
3. The findings of the final panel report shall include a discussion
of the arguments made at the interim review stage. The interim
review stage shall be conducted within the time period set out
in paragraph 8 of Article 12.
Article 16: Adoption of Panel Reports
1. In order to provide sufficient time for the Members to consider
panel reports, the reports shall not be considered for adoption
by the DSB until 20 days after the date they have been circulated
to the Members.
2. Members having objections to a panel report shall give written
reasons to explain their objections for circulation at least 10
days prior to the DSB meeting at which the panel report will be
3. The parties to a dispute shall have the right to participate
fully in the consideration of the panel report by the DSB, and
their views shall be fully recorded.
4. Within 60 days after the date of circulation of a panel report
to the Members, the report shall be adopted at a DSB meeting
unless a party to the dispute formally notifies the DSB of its
decision to appeal or the DSB decides by consensus not to adopt
the report. If a party has notified its decision to appeal, the
report by the panel shall not be considered for adoption by the
DSB until after completion of the appeal. This adoption procedure
is without prejudice to the right of Members to express their
views on a panel report.
Article 17: Appellate Review
Standing Appellate Body
1. A standing Appellate Body shall be established by the DSB.
The Appellate Body shall hear appeals from panel cases. It shall
be composed of seven persons, three of whom shall serve on any
one case. Persons serving on the Appellate Body shall serve in
rotation. Such rotation shall be determined in the working procedures
of the Appellate Body.
2. The DSB shall appoint persons to serve on the Appellate Body
for a four-year term, and each person may be reappointed once.
However, the terms of three of the seven persons appointed immediately
after the entry into force of the WTO Agreement shall expire at
the end of two years, to be determined by lot. Vacancies shall
be filled as they arise. A person appointed to replace a person
whose term of office has not expired shall hold office for the
remainder of the predecessor's term.
3. The Appellate Body shall comprise persons of recognized authority,
with demonstrated expertise in law, international trade and the
subject matter of the covered agreements generally. They shall
be unaffiliated with any government. The Appellate Body membership
shall be broadly representative of membership in the WTO. All
persons serving on the Appellate Body shall be available at all
times and on short notice, and shall stay abreast of dispute settlement
activities and other relevant activities of the WTO. They shall
not participate in the consideration of any disputes that would
create a direct or indirect conflict of interest.
4. Only parties to the dispute, not third parties, may appeal
a panel report. Third parties which have notified the DSB of a
substantial interest in the matter pursuant to paragraph 2 of
Article 10 may make written submissions to, and be given an opportunity
to be heard by, the Appellate Body.
5. As a general rule, the proceedings shall not exceed 60 days
from the date a party to the dispute formally notifies its decision
to appeal to the date the Appellate Body circulates its report.
In fixing its timetable the Appellate Body shall take into account
the provisions of paragraph 9 of Article 4, if relevant. When
the Appellate Body considers that it cannot provide its report
within 60 days, it shall inform the DSB in writing of the reasons
for the delay together with an estimate of the period within which
it will submit its report. In no case shall the proceedings exceed
6. An appeal shall be limited to issues of law covered in the
panel report and legal interpretations developed by the panel.
7. The Appellate Body shall be provided with appropriate administrative
and legal support as it requires.
8. The expenses of persons serving on the Appellate Body, including
travel and subsistence allowance, shall be met from the WTO budget
in accordance with criteria to be adopted by the General Council,
based on recommendations of the Committee on Budget, Finance and
Procedures for Appellate Review
9. Working procedures shall be drawn up by the Appellate Body
in consultation with the Chairman of the DSB and the Director-General,
and communicated to the Members for their information.
10. The proceedings of the Appellate Body shall be confidential.
The reports of the Appellate Body shall be drafted without the
presence of the parties to the dispute and in the light of the
information provided and the statements made.
11. Opinions expressed in the Appellate Body report by individuals
serving on the Appellate Body shall be anonymous.
12. The Appellate Body shall address each of the issues raised
in accordance with paragraph 6 during the appellate proceeding.
13. The Appellate Body may uphold, modify or reverse the legal
findings and conclusions of the panel.
Adoption of Appellate Body Reports
14. An Appellate Body report shall be adopted by the DSB and unconditionally
accepted by the parties to the dispute unless the DSB decides
by consensus not to adopt the Appellate Body report within 30
days following its circulation to the Members. 9 This adoption
procedure is without prejudice to the right of Members to express
their views on an Appellate Body report.
Article 18: Communications with the Panel or Appellate
1. There shall be no ex parte communications with the panel
or Appellate Body concerning matters under consideration by the
panel or Appellate Body.
2. Written submissions to the panel or the Appellate Body shall
be treated as confidential, but shall be made available to the
parties to the dispute. Nothing in this Understanding 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 or the Appellate Body
which that Member has designated as confidential. A party to a
dispute shall also, upon request of a Member, provide a non-confidential
summary of the information contained in its written submissions
that could be disclosed to the public.
Article 19: Panel and Appellate Body Recommendations
1. Where a panel or the Appellate Body concludes that a measure
is inconsistent with a covered agreement, it shall recommend that
the Member concerned 10 bring the measure into
conformity with that agreement. 11 In addition
to its recommendations, the panel or Appellate Body may suggest ways in which the Member
concerned could implement the recommendations.
2. In accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 3, in their findings
and recommendations, the panel and Appellate Body cannot add to
or diminish the rights and obligations provided in the covered
Continue with Annex 2 Understanding on Rules and Procedures
Governing the Settlement of Disputes
8 If a meeting of the DSB is not scheduled within this
period at a time that enables the requirements of paragraphs 1
and 4 of Article 16 to be met, a meeting of the DSB shall be held
for this purpose.
9 With respect to recommendations in cases not involving a
violation of GATT 1994 or any other covered agreement, see Article 26.
10 The "Member concerned" is the party to the
dispute to which the panel or Appellate Body recommendations are directed.
11 With respect to recommendations in cases not involving
a violation of GATT 1994 or any other covered agreement, see Article 26.