The CPTPP sets out a unique dispute resolution mechanism for matters arising under the Labour Chapter in Article 19.15, linked to Chapter 28 of the CPTPP on Dispute Settlement. In this case, consultations and dispute resolution are to be undertaken at the State level.
As a first step, dispute settlement can be undertaken through labour consultations. In this case, the requesting Party should send a written request to the responding Party’s contact point, providing the latter with all the relevant information required including the issue to be raised and the legal basis for the request to be made (Article 19.15.2).
In accordance with Article 19.15.3, the responding Party has to respond to any request made within 7 days following the receipt of the request, unless the consulting Parties decide otherwise. Moreover, the responding Party is also required to circulate its response to the other Parties. Article 19.15.5, for its part, states that the Parties must begin labour consultations within 30 days following the receipt of the responding Party’s reply.
Article 19.15.8 states that the consulting Parties should strive to reach a mutually satisfactory decision through labour consultations. The Parties may equally choose to obtain advice from independent experts or may choose to resolve the issue through procedures such as good offices, conciliation, or mediation. If the consultations are successful in resolving the issue, Article 19.15.11 requires that the Parties document the outcome reached as well as any actions to be taken. Moreover, the outcome must be communicated with the other Parties of the CPTPP and the general public, except if they decide otherwise.
On the other hand, if consultations do not result in an outcome agreeable to the consulting Parties, any one of them may request their Council representatives to consider the matter. The Council representatives of the consulting Parties are required to convene within 30 days following the receipt of the request unless agreed otherwise by the consulting Parties. The Council can also have recourse to experts, good offices, conciliation, or mediation in order to resolve the issue.
That being said, the whole consultation process should be finished within 60 days following the date of receipt of a consultation request (see Article 19.15.2). If matters are not resolved within this time frame, the requesting Party has the option of requesting a panel in accordance with Article 28.7 (Establishment of a Panel) of the CPTPP. From thereon, the Parties have recourse to the other provisions of Chapter 28 (Dispute Settlement) of the CPTPP. However, it should be noted that Parties may only have recourse to the dispute settlement mechanism after having exhausted all other options provided in Article 19.15.
Figure 1: Dispute settlement process under the CPTPP Labour Chapter