Skip to main content

Dispute Settlement in Trade: Training in Law and Economics

Final Report Summary - DISSETTLE (Dispute Settlement in Trade: Training in Law and Economics)

The Dispute Settlement in Trade: Training in Law and Economics (DISSETTLE) project completed its final period of activity between May 2013 and May 2015. The main objective of the DISSETTLE project, which originally kicked off on 20th May 2011, has been to train a new cohort of economic and legal experts to work together on areas of dispute resolution under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and under bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements.

Expertise in trade policy has been fragmented in a number of highly specialised disciplines, especially trade law and trade economics. The same is true when it comes to investment policy. Yet to resolve today’s pressing problems related to trade and economic integration, no single discipline can offer the answers. A network bridging trade law and trade economics will not only advance the frontiers of knowledge in this field, but will also make an important contribution to addressing some of the major questions related to globalisation and increased interdependence that the world faces in the 21st century.

DISSETTLE brought together five European institutions that have pioneered interdisciplinary work on economics and law. The participation of the WTO, law firms and consultancies has ensured that DISSETTLE research and training has been practical, targeted and interdisciplinary. The training consisted of a mix of individual and network-wide activities, including internships, conferences, summer schools, workshops and complementary skills training.

The programme has been focused on six specific topics of dispute settlement, these are:
1. Arbitration
2. Subsidies
3. Competitiveness
4. Lessons from Competition Law and other fields including Investor-State Arbitration
5. Unexplored Applications
6. Management, coordination and dissemination

The DISSETTLE programme has been fundamentally advancing the understanding of jurisprudence emerging from the dispute settlement body of the WTO and bilateral and regional trade and investment agreement regimes.

In the first period of activity, between May 2011 and April 2013, the project achieved all its objectives and, after four years of hard work, research and training, the objectives of the second and final period have also now been achieved in full. In particular, cross-institutional collaboration, researcher recruitment and wider dissemination each formed central objectives of the second reporting period. A further focus was the training of the recruited researchers via a number of network training activities such as conferences, training schools and workshops. Eight such inter-network training events took place in the second two years of the project, in addition to many local seminars and training events. Researchers thus benefited from a combination of research work and training at their respective institutions or placements, as well as across the wider Project network.

The project hired 32 Research Fellows and provided each of them with complementary skills training, mentoring & supervision, high quality research training, networking opportunities, as well as ample opportunity to collaborate on joint research and to engage in multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional and combined academic and practice focused research. In addition to this, the Project has been successful in organising bilateral exchanges, professional secondments, valuable inter-sectorial visits and many other Network-wide activities.

The key outcomes of the Project have been the production of numerous peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, numerous presentations and discussions at global and regional conferences and symposia, many working papers which are likely to be published, vastly improved communication channels between the economics and legal disciplines in the relevant field of research, as well as the production of a strong and growing network comprised of the emerging academic and professional experts in the field of trade policy development and practice. The critical objective of the Project, to increase idialogue between the economic and legal disciplines in the field of trade and investment research, has been achieved in full. The growing professional network that has emerged from the project is continuing to attract talent from both schools of research. Particularly valuable in achieving its goals has been the promotion of joint research between economists and lawyers, which has been most successful in producing insightful and ground-breaking approaches to trade policy research.

The outcomes of the scientific research that has taken place through the network will likely deliver many long-term socioeconomic benefits and have addressed many currently critical issues under the rubric of trade and investment law, including but not limited to: trade liberalisation, the handling of protectionist trade policies, technical barriers to trade, investor-state dispute settlement, arbitrator reflexivity, calculation of damages in WTO and investment dispute settlement, accurate evaluations of retaliatory measures, energy regulation, climate change, protection of environment, culture & human rights, government procurement, monetary unionism, protection of host states in international investment law, and the safeguarding of small businesses, agriculture, R&D, consumer interests and social welfare.

Further information on the project and some of its achievements to date can be accessed via the network website: