Do Developed Countries ‘Lawyer Up’ Faster than Developing Countries? Evaluating the Speed and Momentum of Trade Litigation at the World Trade Organization
Journal of World Trade, p. 1237, 2011
34 Pages Posted: 20 May 2010 Last revised: 12 Aug 2013
Date Written: May 19, 2010
A number of recent studies have shown that using the WTO’s dispute settlement procedure is seldom a straightforward proposition of dispute resolution through an open juridical process (Dunoff 2008, Froese 2010, Nordstrom 1999). A majority of members have never used the DSU, and for those who have used it, participation in dispute settlement can be explained by a number of factors such as trade volume, income level and legal capacity (Francois, Horn and Kaunitz, 2008). It stands to reason that members who use the panel system very little, or hardly at all, are also slow to use it – that there is an inverse correlation between number of dispute panels and time until first dispute.
This paper asks a simple question: what is the average time after accession that a member brings a complaint, receives a complaint, and joins a dispute as a third party? The first section provides a brief overview of some of the recent literature pertaining to dispute settlement participation at the WTO. The second section provides a statistical analysis of the pace of dispute settlement, by examining cases initiated in the fifteen years since the WTO Agreement came into force, between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 2009. The third section examines a number of possible factors that may explain the pace at which countries at different income levels engage in dispute settlement. The paper concludes that there is much less uniformity in when members undertake dispute settlement than might be expected given the global divisions of wealth, access to information and availability of legal talent.
Keywords: WTO, international economic law, dispute settlement, trade
JEL Classification: F15, K33, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation