Role of precedents in wto dispute

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Even if adopted, the reports of panels and the Appellate Body are not binding precedents for other disputes between the same parties on other matters or different parties on the same matter, even though the same questions of WTO law might arise.

As one anonymous commenter put it in this postthe message from the Appellate Body to panels is the following: You really, really should follow prior Appellate Body decisions.

The details of the panel decision are here.

Role of precedents in wto dispute

Unless, that is, there are cogent reasons not to follow them. This, however, does not mean that subsequent panels are free to disregard the legal interpretations and the ratio decidendi contained in previous Appellate Body reports that have been adopted by the DSB…. As one anonymous commenter put it in this post , the message from the Appellate Body to panels is the following: You really, really should follow prior Appellate Body decisions. The role of precedent has always been difficult with respect to international courts and tribunals. The report of a panel or the Appellate Body also relates to that specific matter in the dispute between these Members. The Appellate Body has confirmed that conclusions and recommendations in panel reports adopted under GATT bound the parties to the particular dispute, but that subsequent panels were not legally bound by the details and reasoning of a previous panel report. The details of the panel decision are here. In addition, when enacting or modifying laws and national regulations pertaining to international trade matters, WTO Members take into account the legal interpretation of the covered agreements developed in adopted panel and Appellate Body reports. As in other areas of international law, there is no rule of stare decisis in WTO dispute settlement according to which previous rulings bind panels and the Appellate Body in subsequent cases. In the hierarchical structure contemplated in the DSU, panels and the Appellate Body have distinct roles to play…. Bearing in mind, of course, that if you do, we will almost certainly reverse you on appeal.

Did you catch all of that? As in other areas of international law, there is no rule of stare decisis in WTO dispute settlement according to which previous rulings bind panels and the Appellate Body in subsequent cases.

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Even if adopted, the reports of panels and the Appellate Body are not binding precedents for other disputes between the same parties on other matters or different parties on the same matter, even though the same questions of WTO law might arise. Dispute settlement practice demonstrates that WTO Members attach significance to reasoning provided in previous panel and Appellate Body reports. The report of a panel or the Appellate Body also relates to that specific matter in the dispute between these Members. As in other areas of international law, there is no rule of stare decisis in WTO dispute settlement according to which previous rulings bind panels and the Appellate Body in subsequent cases. It is well settled that Appellate Body reports are not binding, except with respect to resolving the particular dispute between the parties. Did you catch all of that? Unless, that is, there are cogent reasons not to follow them. This, however, does not mean that subsequent panels are free to disregard the legal interpretations and the ratio decidendi contained in previous Appellate Body reports that have been adopted by the DSB…. This means that a panel is not obliged to follow previous Appellate Body reports even if they have developed a certain interpretation of exactly the provisions which are now at issue before the panel. In addition, when enacting or modifying laws and national regulations pertaining to international trade matters, WTO Members take into account the legal interpretation of the covered agreements developed in adopted panel and Appellate Body reports. The details of the panel decision are here.

Adopted panel and Appellate Body reports are often cited by parties in support of legal arguments in dispute settlement proceedings, and are relied upon by panels and the Appellate Body in subsequent disputes.

Nor is the Appellate Body obliged to maintain the legal interpretations it has developed in past cases.

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It is well settled that Appellate Body reports are not binding, except with respect to resolving the particular dispute between the parties.

But I read the Appellate Body in Stainless Steel Mexico as essentially requiring panels to follow Appellate Body decisions and treat them as legal precedent.

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This means that a panel is not obliged to follow previous Appellate Body reports even if they have developed a certain interpretation of exactly the provisions which are now at issue before the panel. Bearing in mind, of course, that if you do, we will almost certainly reverse you on appeal.

It would be quite bad for the system if you do not. WTO Appellate Body decisions are not binding, but they must be followed.

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The Role of Precedent at the WTO