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    [ 刘成伟 ]——(2003-7-7) / 已阅24470次

    Chapter IV
    Function of Panels: Art. 11 of the DSU


    OUTLINE


    I Introduction
    II Application of Art. 11 as a General Standard of Review
    III Review in “neither de novo nor total defence”
    IV Allegation against Panels’ Standard of Review
    V Exercise of Judicial Economy





    I Introduction
    The function of panels is expressly defined in Art. 11 of the DSU, which reads as follows:

    “The function of panels is to assist the DSB in discharging its responsibilities under this Understanding and the covered agreements. Accordingly, a panel should make an objective assessment of the matter before it, including an objective assessment of the facts of the case and the applicability of and conformity with the relevant covered agreements, and make such other findings as will assist the DSB in making the recommendations or in giving the rulings provided for in the covered agreements. Panels should consult regularly with the parties to the dispute and give them adequate opportunity to develop a mutually satisfactory solution.”

    This provision suggests that the function of panels is to make an objective assessment such as to assist the DSB in making the recommendations or in giving the rulings provided for in the covered agreements. However, how do panels fulfill their functions as provided in Art. 11 of the DSU? It is the issue that we will touch on in this chapter. In this chapter, the author explores on the standard of review issue under the WTO, i.e. “an objective assessment”; as well as on the exercised judicial economy principle developed in panel’s review.
    With regard to the standard of review issue, the GATT/WTO dispute settlement procedures have increasingly confronted questions concerning the degree to which an international body, under the GATT/WTO, should “second guess” a decision of a national government agency concerning economic regulations that are allegedly inconsistent with an international rule. It seems clear that the international agreement doesn’t permit a national government’s determination always to prevail, otherwise the international rules could be easily evaded or rendered ineffective. But should the international body approach the issues involved without any deference to the national government? It has been argued in the GATT/WTO proceedings that panels should respect national government determinations, up to some point. That “point” is the crucial issue that has sometimes been labelled the “standard of review”.1
    Of course, this issue is not unique to the GATT/WTO. Naturally, the standard-of-review issue is one that many legal systems face. “The standard-of-review question is faced at least implicitly whenever sovereign members of a treaty yield interpretive and dispute settlement powers to international panels and tribunals. Moreover, as national economies become increasingly interdependent, and as the need for international cooperation and coordination accordingly becomes greater, the standard-of-review question will become increasingly important.” 2 And “it can be seen that the standard-of-review question is a recurring and delicate one, and one that to some extent goes to the core of an international procedure that must (in a rule-based system) assess a national government’s actions against treaty or other international norms”. 3
    However, for the immediate purpose, we want to focus below on the more particular question of the proper standard of review for a WTO panel when it undertakes to examine a national government’s actions or rulings that engage the question of consistency with the various WTO agreements and are subject to the DSU procedures.

    II Application of Art. 11 as a General Standard of Review
    Under the WTO jurisprudence, it’s demonstrated that Art. 11 of the DSU has been applied as a general standard of review. Art. 11 suggests that the function of panels is to make “an objective assessment” so as to assist the DSB in making the recommendations or in giving the rulings provided for in the covered agreements.
    For example, in US-Shirts and Blouses (DS33), the Panel rules that, “although the DSU does not contain any specific reference to standards of review, we consider that Article 11 of the DSU which describes the parameters of the function of panels, is relevant here”. 4
    And the application of Art. 11 as a general standard of review under the DSU is analyzed systematically in EC-Hormones (DS26/DS48) where the Appellate Body rules that: 5
    “The first point that must be made in this connection, is that the SPS Agreement itself is silent on the matter of an appropriate standard of review for panels deciding upon SPS measures of a Member. Nor are there provisions in the DSU or any of the covered agreements (other than the Anti-Dumping Agreement) prescribing a particular standard of review. Only Article 17.6(i) of the Anti-Dumping Agreement has language on the standard of review to be employed by panels engaged in the ‘assessment of the facts of the matter’. We find no indication in the SPS Agreement of an intent on the part of the Members to adopt or incorporate into that Agreement the standard set out in Article 17.6(i) of the Anti-Dumping Agreement. Textually, Article 17.6(i) is specific to the Anti-Dumping Agreement.
    […]
    We do not mean, however, to suggest that there is at present no standard of review applicable to the determination and assessment of the facts in proceedings under the SPS Agreement or under other covered agreements. In our view, Article 11 of the DSU bears directly on this matter and, in effect, articulates with great succinctness but with sufficient clarity the appropriate standard of review for panels in respect of both the ascertainment of facts and the legal characterization of such facts under the relevant agreements […]”
    In sum, for all but one of the covered agreements, Art. 11 of the DSU sets forth the appropriate standard of review for panels. As stated on more than one occasion, Art. 11 of the DSU, and, in particular, its requirement that “a panel should make an objective assessment of the matter before it, including an objective assessment of the facts of the case and the applicability of and conformity with the relevant covered agreements”, sets forth the appropriate standard of review for panels examining the consistency or inconsistency of alleged measures under the WTO jurisprudence. And the only exception is the Agreement on Implementation of Article VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, in which a specific provision, Art. 17.6, sets out a special standard of review for disputes arising under that Agreement(to be discussed in subsequent chapter).6

    III Review in “neither de novo nor total defence”
    In EC-Hormones (DS26/DS48), in the view of the European Communities, “the principal alternative approaches to the problem of formulating the ‘proper standard of review’ so far as panels are concerned are two-fold. The first is designated as ‘de novo review’. This standard of review would allow a panel complete freedom to come to a different view than the competent authority of the Member whose act or determination is being reviewed. A panel would have to ‘verify whether the determination by the national authority was…correct (both factually and procedurally)’. The second is described as ‘deference’. Under a ‘deference’ standard, a panel, in the submission of the European Communities, should not seek to redo the investigation conducted by the national authority but instead examine whether the ‘procedure’ required by the relevant WTO rules had been followed”.7 In this respect, the Appellate Body rules that:8
    “So far as fact-finding by panels is concerned, their activities are always constrained by the mandate of Article 11 of the DSU: the applicable standard is neither de novo review as such, nor ‘total deference’, but rather the ‘objective assessment of the facts’. Many panels have in the past refused to undertake de novo review, wisely, since under current practice and systems, they are in any case poorly suited to engage in such a review. On the other hand, ‘total deference to the findings of the national authorities’, it has been well said, ‘could not ensure an 'objective assessment' as foreseen by Article 11 of the DSU’.”
    The ruling is confirmed on many other occasions. For example, the Panel on US-Underwear (DS24) finds that: 9
    “In our opinion, a policy of total deference to the findings of the national authorities could not ensure an ‘objective assessment’ as foreseen by Article 11 of the DSU. This conclusion is supported, in our view, by previous panel reports that have dealt with this issue, and most notably in the panel report on the ‘Transformers’ case.
    The panel in the ‘Transformers’ case was confronted with the argument of New Zealand that the determination of ‘material injury’ by the competent New Zealand investigating authority could not be scrutinized by the panel. The ‘Transformers’ panel responded to this argument as follows:
    ‘The Panel agreed that the responsibility to make a determination of material injury caused by dumped imports rested in the first place with the authorities of the importing contracting party concerned. However, the Panel could not share the view that such a determination could not be scrutinized if it were challenged by another contracting party. On the contrary, the Panel believed that if a contracting party affected by the determination could make a case that the importation could not in itself have the effect of causing material injury to the industry in question, that contracting party was entitled, under the relevant GATT provisions and in particular Article XXIII, that its representations be given sympathetic consideration and that eventually, if no satisfactory adjustment was effected, it might refer the matter to the CONTRACTING PARTIES, as had been done by Finland in the present case. To conclude otherwise would give governments complete freedom and unrestricted discretion in deciding anti-dumping cases without any possibility to review the action taken in the GATT. This would lead to an unacceptable situation under the aspect of law and order in international trade relations as governed by the GATT’.”
    In short, for the panel to adopt a policy of total deference to the findings of the national authorities could not ensure an “objective assessment” as foreseen by Art. 11 of the DSU. This conclusion is supported, in our view, by previous panel reports that have dealt with this issue. However, panels do not see their review as a substitute for the proceedings conducted by national investigating authorities, either. For example, in Argentina-Footwear (DS121), the Panel doesn’t consider that they have the mandate to conduct a de novo review: 10
    “This approach is consistent with the reports of panels reviewing national investigations… The panel on United States - Anti-dumping Duties on Import of Salmon from Norway concluded that it should not engage in a de novo review of the evidence examined by the national investigating authority.
    The panel on United States - Underwear followed this approach by noting, however, that it did not see its ‘review as a substitute for the proceedings conducted by national investigating authorities or by the Textiles Monitoring Body (TMB). Rather…the Panel's function should be to assess objectively the review conducted by the national investigating authority, in this case the CITA. We draw particular attention to the fact that a series of panel reports in the anti-dumping and subsidies/countervailing duties context have made it clear that it is not the role of panels to engage in a de novo review. In our view, the same is true for panels operating in the context of the ATC, since they would be called upon, as in the cases dealing with anti-dumping and/or subsidies/countervailing duties, to review the consistency of a determination by a national investigating authority imposing a restriction under the relevant provisions of the relevant WTO legal instruments, in this case the ATC. …’
    Accordingly, the panel on United States - Underwear decided, ‘in accordance with Article 11 of the DSU, to make an objective assessment of the Statement issued by the US authorities … which, as the parties to the dispute agreed, constitutes the scope of the matter properly before the Panel without, however, engaging in a de novo review. … an objective assessment would entail an examination of whether the CITA had examined all relevant facts before it, whether adequate explanation had been provided of how the facts as a whole supported the determination made, and, consequently, whether the determination made was consistent with the international obligations of the United States’.
    The panel on United States - Shirts and Blouses also stated that ‘[t]his is not to say that the Panel interprets the ATC as imposing on the importing Member any specific method either for collecting data or for considering and weighing all the relevant economic factors upon which the importing Member will decide whether there is need for a safeguard restraint. The relative importance of particular factors including those listed in Article 6.3 of the ATC is for each Member to assess in the light of the circumstances of each case’.
    These past GATT and WTO panel reports make it clear that panels examining national investigations in the context of the application of anti-dumping and countervailing duties, as well as safeguards under the ATC, have refrained from engaging in a de novo review of the evidence examined by the national authority.”
    However, as emphasized by the Appellate Body, although panels are not entitled to conduct a de novo review of the evidence, nor to substitute their own conclusions for those of the competent authorities, this does not mean that panels must simply accept the conclusions of the competent authorities. In this respect, the phrase “de novo review” should not be used loosely. If a panel concludes that the competent authorities, in a particular case, have not provided a reasoned or adequate explanation for their determination, that panel has not, thereby, engaged in a de novo review. Nor has that panel substituted its own conclusions for those of the competent authorities. Rather, the panel has, consistent with its obligations under the DSU, simply reached a conclusion that the determination made by the competent authorities is inconsistent with the specific requirements of the covered Agreement. 11

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