AN EXAMINATION OF GATT/WTO ARBITRATION PROCEDURES - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 54, No. 4.
The author is an attorney at law and economist in Komotini, Greece, and has been a member of the Greek Bar (Bar Association of Rodopi) since 1989. He can be contacted at his e-mail address: www.diavlos.com/zekos.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) incorporate what are possibly the most extensive dispute resolution mechanisms of any such treaties. GATT/WTO arbitral practice— "promoted as an answer to expanding pressures for a comprehensive system for coping with international trade disputes"— has evolved despite the political complexities imposed by member states. The intent of the WTO dispute resolution mechanism is to guarantee WTO members "full access to their expected commercial and competitive opportunities," says Georgios Zekos. Yet, noncompliance and minimal enforcement continue to erode the foundation supporting WTO principles.
Arbitration is often preferred to traditional court proceedings because it can offer the prospect of reaching a relatively economical final solution by specialist arbitrators through a quick and often less formal procedure. The discrete character of arbitral proceedings can add to its attractiveness, particularly when trade secrets are involved. Furthermore, arbitral awards are quite easily enforced both in the country of origin and abroad. It can be said that the two basic principles underlying arbitration are that of party autonomy and that of limited judicial review of arbitral awards. The principle of
party autonomy is reflected in the consensual nature of the parties’ choice to have their claims arising out of their contractual relationship submitted to arbitration; in the selection of the arbitral tribunal; and the applicable law and the autonomy afforded to the parties in structuring the proceedings. The control by courts of arbitral awards takes the form of a review of final awards on limited grounds. The arbitration will be subject to the law chosen by the parties, unless the arbitrators have been authorized by the parties to decide the dispute ex aequo et bono.