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June 13, 2020 - Source: Practical Aspects of WTO Litigation

"See you in Court": The Panel Process


In this chapter, we discuss the panel process from the first written submission to the consideration by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) for the adoption of the Final Report of a panel. This is the stage at which the legal issues in dispute are distilled, and the facts essential for the resolution of the dispute are established. Though central to the effective settlement of a dispute, the panel process is, and should always be viewed, as an integral part of a much longer process that begins with the identification of a commercial problem and ends, ideally, with a mutually satisfactory resolution. Keeping this fact in mind is important in helping to make sure that litigation actually advances the economic and trade policy concerns of the litigants, and does not end up becoming a search for a technical knock-out or a debating society win – or, worse, a pyrrhic victory. We, therefore, begin this chapter with a brief overview of where we are at by the time the first written submission is due. We will then review the ‘panel process’ in five parts: (i) the first written submissions; (ii) the first oral hearing; (iii) further submissions and hearings; (iv) the interim review; and (v) the Final Report.

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