What is a dispute resolution process?
Dispute resolution is the mutually agreed process by which disagreements over the interpretation, application or breach of a trade agreement can be resolved between parties. These processes are designed to provide clarity about what action either side can legitimately take in the event that a dispute arises. Most often, this involves formal procedures for dialogue to take place, before eventually being escalated to independent arbitration. Often in trade agreements, dispute resolution processes are slow and cumbersome. In the UK-EU talks, the EU initially wanted to be able to impose unilateral (or ‘autonomous’) measures against the UK for breaking any commitments without having to go through such a cumbersome process. The UK did not accept this idea. Trade agreements also include clauses by which either side can terminate an agreement, usually with at least several months’ notice.