Under the old GATT, there was a litigation procedure, but it did not have fixed timetables, decisions were easier to block and many cases were dragging on for a long time without results. The Uruguay Round Agreement introduced a more structured process, with more clearly defined procedural steps. It introduced greater discipline for the duration of the supplement, with flexible deadlines set at different stages of the procedure. The agreement stresses that a speedy settlement is essential if the WTO is to function effectively. It sets out in detail the procedures and timing of dispute resolution. If a case is evolving until a first judgment is rendered, it should generally not last more than one year, 15 months if the case is appealed. The agreed deadlines are flexible and, if the matter is considered urgent (for example. B, if perishable products are involved), it is accelerated as far as possible. Final report: a final report will be presented to both parties and distributed three weeks later to all WTO members. If the body decides that the trade measure at issue is contrary to a WTO agreement or obligation, it recommends taking the measure in accordance with WTO rules.
The panel can propose how this could be done. The panel`s final report should normally be presented to the parties to the dispute within six months. In the event of an emergency, including cases involving perishable goods, the time limit is reduced to three months. The General Council meets as a dispute resolution body (DSB) to deal with disputes between WTO members. First hearing: the case for the complaining country and the defence: the complaining country (or the countries), the responding country and those who have announced their interest in the dispute, will decide at the first panel hearing. These approximate periods for each stage of a dispute resolution procedure are targeted figures, the agreement is flexible. In addition, countries can resolve their own disputes at any time. The sums are also approximate.
That is largely what is happening in the WTO. No one likes countries to argue. But if trade disputes were to arise, it would be healthier if cases were handled according to internationally agreed rules. There is good reason to say that the growing number of disputes is simply the result of the expansion of world trade and the stricter rules negotiated under the Uruguay Round; and that the fact that there are more in the WTO reflects a growing confidence in the system. Dispute settlement is the central pillar of the multilateral trading system and the WTO`s unique contribution to the stability of the global economy.