Frequently Asked Questions
The World Bank Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) is a judicial forum where World Bank Group (Bank Group) staff members seek final resolution of their claims against the Bank Group. The Tribunal renders final and binding judgments on staff members’ claims alleging non-observance of their contracts of employment or terms of appointment. (Article II(1) of the Tribunal’s Statute).
As an international organization, the Bank Group is immune from lawsuits brought in national courts including those related to employment matters. In this regard, the Tribunal was established in 1980 to provide Bank Group staff members an independent forum where they could bring their grievances after exhausting internal remedies available through the conflict resolution mechanisms of the Bank Group. See Internal Justice Services.
The Tribunal is composed of seven judges, all of whom are nationals of different Member States of the Bank Group. The judges must be persons of "high moral character" and must “possess the qualifications required for appointment to high judicial office or be jurisconsults of recognized competence.” They are appointed by the Executive Directors of the Bank Group from a list of candidates drawn up by the President of the Bank Group after a process of consultation involving, inter alia, the Staff Association, for a term of five years, renewable once for another five years (Article IV of the Statute).
The Secretariat is the administrative arm of the Tribunal. It is managed by the Executive Secretary who, according to the Tribunal’s Statute, is responsible solely to the Tribunal. The Executive Secretary organizes and administers the work connected with the Tribunal's review of applications. The Executive Secretary acts as a liaison between the parties and is responsible for ensuring that all documents filed with the Tribunal are properly transmitted to the other party, and that all information related to the proceedings before the Tribunal is properly transmitted to the parties.
Any former or current Bank Group staff member can file an application with the Tribunal. In addition, any person who is entitled to claim upon a right of a staff member as a personal representative or by reason of the staff member's death, and any person designated or otherwise entitled to receive a payment under any provision of the Staff Retirement Plan, may also file an application with the Tribunal (Article II(3) of the Statute).
Yes. A staff member may file and application with the Tribunal alleging non-observance of his/her contract of employment or terms of appointment, irrespective of the length of his/her employment with the Bank Group.
No. Applicants may be represented by counsel, but are not required to be so. A lawyer representing an applicant must be authorized to practice law in any country that is a member of the Bank Group, and must have the express written authorization from the Applicant to act on his/her behalf before the Tribunal. Although the Tribunal is not responsible for an applicant’s attorneys’ fees, an applicant may submit to the Tribunal a request for costs (including attorneys’ fees) as part of the application. The Tribunal may in appropriate cases award costs that would be payable by the Bank Group.
Depending on the nature of the case, recourse to Peer Review Services, the Pension Benefits Administration Committee or the Workers’ Compensation Administrative Review Panel is generally required before an application may be submitted to the Tribunal. As an exception, the parties may agree that a particular application be submitted directly to the Tribunal (Article II(2) of the Statute).
In the event of a dispute between the parties as to whether an application is admissible or whether the Tribunal has jurisdiction over an application, the matter is to be settled by the Tribunal (Article III of the Statute). Normally, questions about jurisdiction are raised by the respondent (i.e. the Bank Group). The Bank may challenge the jurisdiction of the Tribunal on a number of grounds, such as the timeliness of an application or the failure to exhaust internal remedies (see. (Article II(2) of the Statute).
Applications must be submitted to the Tribunal through the Executive Secretary and in accordance with the Rules of the Tribunal. A detailed summary of the procedures for filing an application is available on this website (see Filing Instructions). Potential applicants are invited to contact the secretariat of the Tribunal if they require further information regarding the filing of applications.
Yes. Article II of the Statute requires applications to filed within 120 days after the latest of the following:
- the occurrence of the event giving rise to the application;
- receipt of notice, after the applicant has exhausted all other remedies available within the Bank Group, that the relief asked for or recommended will not be granted; or
- receipt of notice that the relief asked for or recommended will be granted, if such relief shall not have been granted within thirty days after receipt of such notice.
Where an application is brought against a decision of the Pension Benefits Administration Committee of the Bank, the time limits are reckoned from the date of the communication of the contested decision to the party concerned.
A claim that is included in an appeal previously filed with Peer Review Services shall not ordinarily be admissible before the Tribunal until Peer Review Services has completed its consideration of all issues raised in the appeal as originally filed by the staff member.
Potential applicants are invited to contact the secretariat of the Tribunal as soon as possible if they have any questions regarding the time-limits for the filing of applications. Many applications have been found to be inadmissible because they were not filed on time.
Yes. Although the Tribunal Rules do not address extensions of time for filing applications, extensions have been granted by the President of the Tribunal on a case by case basis. A request for an extension must be made in writing to the Tribunal as soon as possible after the applicant becomes aware of the need for the extension, and in any event before the 120 days referred to in Article II of the Statute of the Tribunal have expired. The applicant must state the reason(s) for the request. The President of the Tribunal may grant an extension if he finds the request to be reasonable. A request that is filed after the expiration of the time limits is likely to be denied by the Tribunal.
The period between the filing of an application and a judgment is, on average, about 8 months. The Tribunal meets as often as necessary based on the number of applications before it. The Tribunal must hold at least one plenary session a year (Article VIII of the Statute). In recent years, the Tribunal has held 2-3 sessions each year.
The Bank must submit to the Executive Secretary of the Tribunal its written answer to an application within 60 days of its receipt of the application.
Thereafter, the applicant may, within 45 days of its receipt of the Bank's answer, file with the Executive Secretary a written reply.
Finally, the Bank may, within 30 days of its receipt of a reply, file with the Executive Secretary a written rejoinder. The written rejoinder is then transmitted to the applicant. The answer, reply and rejoinder are only transmitted to the other party once the Executive Secretary has determined that such pleadings satisfy the formal requirements of the Rules. The filing of the rejoinder generally marks the end of the written proceedings.
Thereafter, President may, on his or her own initiative, or at the request of either party, call upon the parties to submit additional written statements or additional documents. (See Rules 9-12 of the Rules of the Tribunal.)
Paragraph 11 of Rule 7 provides that if it appears that an application is clearly irreceivable or devoid of all merit, the President may instruct the Executive Secretary to take no further action thereon until the next session of the Tribunal. The Tribunal shall then consider the application and may either adjudge that it be summarily dismissed as clearly irreceivable or devoid of all merit, or order that it should be proceeded with in the ordinary way.
Proceedings before the Tribunal are generally conducted entirely in writing, but either party may request oral proceedings. The Tribunal, on its own initiative, may also call for oral proceedings. Oral proceedings are held in public, unless the Tribunal decides that exceptional circumstances require that they be held in private. The Tribunal will determine the scope of the oral proceedings on a case-by-case basis. Oral proceedings may include the presentation and examination of witnesses or experts, and each party has the right of oral argument and of comment on the evidence given. (See Rule 17 of the Rules of the Tribunal).
Rule 14(1) of the Rules of the Tribunal provides that when the President considers the documentation of a case to be sufficiently complete, he or she shall instruct the Executive Secretary to place the case on the list and to transmit the dossier of such case to the members designated to decide it. The Executive Secretary shall inform the parties as soon as the inclusion of the case in the list is effected. No additional statements or documents may be filed after the case has been included in the list.
If the Tribunal finds that the application is well-founded, it shall order the rescission of the decision contested or the specific performance of the obligation invoked unless the Tribunal finds that the Respondent institution has reasonably determined that such rescission or specific performance would not be practicable or in the institution’s interest. In that event, the Tribunal shall, instead, order such institution to pay restitution in the amount that is reasonably necessary to compensate the applicant for the actual damages suffered. (See Article XII of the Statute).
However, it should be noted that the filing of an application shall not have the effect of suspending execution of the decision contested by the applicant. (See Article XII of the Statute).
In cases decided by the full Tribunal, decisions are taken by a majority vote of the judges present (Article X of the Statute). A quorum of five judges is required to constitute the full Tribunal. The Tribunal may however also form a panel of not less than three judges for dealing with a particular case or group of cases (Article V of the Statute).
Judges are permitted to set out individual dissenting or concurring opinions in the judgment. To date, all decisions taken by the Tribunal or by a panel have been reached unanimously.
No. All cases are decided at the time the Tribunal meets, including, inter alia, judgments on jurisdiction, admissibility or requests for provisional relief. However, an applicant may submit to the President of the Tribunal a request to suspend the contested decision until the Tribunal renders its judgment in the case. The Tribunal or, when the Tribunal is not in session, the President of the Tribunal, may grant such a request in a case in which the execution of the decision is shown to be highly likely to result in grave hardship to the applicant that cannot otherwise be redressed (Rule 13 of the Rules of the Tribunal).
Tribunal judgments are final and without appeal (Article XI of the Statute). However, a party to a case who discovers a material fact that was not available at the time the judgment was made and which might have affected the judges’ decision may request the Tribunal to revise its judgment (Article XIII of the Statute). Such occurrences, however, are very rare.
Yes, judgments are published on the Tribunal’s website and also in printed form. A search engine is available to facilitate researching the judgments for particular issues. Judgments can also be made available to interested persons upon request.
Yes. A request for anonymity may be made to the Tribunal in writing at the time the application is filed, or no later than by the date of the filing of the applicant’s written reply to the answer. The request for anonymity is then transmitted to the respondent for comment (Rule 28 of the Rules of the Tribunal). The President of the Tribunal may grant a request for anonymity in cases where the Tribunal finds that publication of the applicant's name is likely to be seriously prejudicial to the applicant. All feasible steps will be taken not to disclose the identity of the applicant in the judgment.
Yes, the Tribunal may award costs, including attorney’s fees, in its final judgment. The award of costs is discretionary and depends on the individual facts of the case. An application for costs must be made to the Tribunal no later than seven days after the case is listed.
The Tribunal’s Secretariat will answer procedural questions relating to the filing of an application and its processing. For other types of assistance, applicants may consult with the Staff Association, who will determine whether it is able to provide assistance, and if so, the type of assistance it can provide to the applicant.