Lawyers, GATS, and the WTO Accountancy Disciplines: The History of the WTO's Consultation, the IBA GATS Forum and the September 2003 IBA Resolutions

Laurel Terry


This article addresses issues related to legal services and the General Agreement on Trade in Services or GATS. GATS Article VI:4 requires Member States to develop "any necessary disciplines." WTO Members currently are in the process of deciding whether to extend the WTO Accountancy Disciplines, S/L/64, to other service sectors, including legal services. In December 2002, the WTO sent the International Bar Association (IBA) (and other non-governmental organizations) a "consultation letter" requesting the IBA's views about changes it would like to see in the WTO Accountancy Disciplines. The IBA responded to the WTO consultation with the May 2003 IBA GATS Forum held in Brussels. Following the IBA GATS Forum, the IBA Council unanimously adopted two resolutions relevant to the GATS and legal services: one resolution specified the IBA's recommended changes to the Accountancy Disciplines; the second resolution recommended Terminology to use in GATS negotiations, but did not go so far as to endorse a classification system. This article analyzes these events, provides a legislative history of the September 2003 IBA resolutions, and includes as appendices documents related to the IBA GATS Forum and subsequent IBA Resolutions