Documents Relevant to Proper Classification of Legal Services in Ongoing GATS Negotiations

Documents Relevant to Proper Classification of Legal Services in Ongoing GATS Negotiations

The WTO Secretariat's Legal Services Sectoral Analysis raised the issue of whether WTO Member States should develop a new definition of legal services to use in the ongoing GATS — Track 1 Negotiations. Australia responded to this invitation by submitting a paper suggesting alternative terminology. The European Union thereafter submitted its own proposal. In addition to these official documents submitted by WTO Member States, the International Bar Association and Law Council of Australia also have submitted suggestions. Thus, WTO Member States currently have several different proposals they may consider with respect to the classification or terminology they should use when negotiating with respect to legal services. None of these classification systems is intended to create substantive obligations.

Official WTO Documents Regarding Classification of Legal Services

U.N. Documents on which the Existing WTO Classification System Is Based

  • United Nations Provisional Central Product Classification (CPC) 861 - Legal Services
  • Page 4 of the WTO Secretariat's Legal Services Sectoral Analysis explained as follows the relationship between the WTO Sectoral Classification system in W/120 and the United Nation's CPC classification system:

    "In the WTO "Services Sectoral Classification List" (document MTN.GNS/W/120), "(a) legal services" are listed as a sub-sector of "(1) business services" and "(A) professional services". This entry corresponds to the CPC number 861 in the United Nations Provisional Central Product Classification. In the UN CPC the entry "legal services" is sub-divided in "legal advisory and representation services concerning criminal law" (86111), "legal advisory and representation services in judicial procedures concerning other fields of law" (86119), "legal advisory and representation services in statutory procedures of quasi-judicial tribunals, boards, etc." (86120), "legal documentation and certification services" (86130) and "other legal and advisory information" (8619)." The United Nations' CPC provides explanatory notes for these five sub-categories of legal services; excerpts of these notes are included in footnote 3 of the WTO Secretariat's Legal Services Sectoral Paper. The revision of the UN CPC approved by the UN statistical committee in February 1997 leaves the legal services classification substantially unchanged. However, it includes as a subclass of legal services "Arbitration and conciliation services," previously part of management consultancy services."

  • Current U.N. Central Product Classification (821) - Legal Services (Version 1.1)

International Bar Association Resolution on Legal Services "Terminology"

  • The International Bar Association is a dual membership organization, comprising both individual lawyers and bar associations and law societies. On May 30, 2003, the IBA held a GATS Forum. One of the two issues discussed was the terminology that WTO Member States should use when engaged in GATS neotiations that concern legal services. On September 18, 2003, the Council of the IBA unanimously approved a terminology resolution, subject to further minor changes. In adopting this Terminology Resolution, the IBA specifically declined to endorse any of the competing legal services classification proposals. After submission of the fnal document to the IBA Council, the Terminology resolution was transmitted to the WTO Secretariat on behalf of the IBA.

  • IBA Resolution (Transmitted November 2003)

Documents on Classification Prepared by Bar Associations and Other Organizations

  • OECD Trade Policy Working Paper No. 2, MANAGING REQUEST-OFFER NEGOTIATIONS UNDER THE GATS: THE CASE OF LEGAL SERVICES, TD/TC/WP(2003)40/FINAL (June 14, 2004) submitted to the WTO Committee on Specific Commitments as JOB(04)/77 (June 2004)
    Paragraphs 17-23 on pages 12-13 address the issue of classification of legal services. The OECD noted that the "classification system used in the Doha Round will have a significant influence on the evolution of the international market for legal services. It is crucial that the terminology employed in the negotiations be clear and consistent with the reality of modern trade in legal services."
  • Law Council of Australia's Paper on Classification of Legal Services

United States - Measures Affecting the Cross-border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services, Appellate Body Report, WT/DS285/AB/R (7 April 2005)

United States - Measures Affecting the Cross-border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services - Report of the Panel, WT/DS285/R (10 Nov. 2004)

See also:

Laurel S. Terry, U.N. TSG Presentation (Oct. 18, 2004) and Laurel S. Terry, Materials Submitted to the Technical subgroup (TSG) of the Expert Group on International Economic and Social Classifications, TSG/27 (Oct. 18, 2004) (describing various legal services classification systems)


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