Frequently Asked Questions

Who can file a complaint?

  • Serving or former staff members of the organisations which have recognized the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, as well as external collaborators and contractors of the International Labour Office if the terms of their contract provide for this (Article II(4) of the Statute).

How can I file a complaint?

What language can I use?

  • The Tribunal's working languages are French and English, which are also the languages of its Statute and Rules. The language of the pleadings - i.e. the submissions and annexes - is chosen by the complainant (Article 6(4), of the Rules). Only exceptionally will the Tribunal accept that annexes be submitted in the other working language; for annexes submitted in a language other than the working languages of the Tribunal, a translation is required (Article 6(1)(c), of the Rules). Translations must be true to the original (with no comments being added), but they need not be prepared by an official translator.

What are the time limits?

  • In order to be receivable a complaint must be filed within 90 days following the notification of the challenged decision (Article VII of the Statute). Note that the time limit is 90 days and not three months as indicated in the internal rules of certain organisations. If in doubt, always bear in mind that it is the time limit mentionned in the Statute of the Tribunal that will apply.
  • (See Advice to litigants A2 and A6)

If I am short of time, can I ask for an extension of the time limits?

  • No. The time limit established by Article VII of the Statute is mandatory and cannot be extended.
  • (See, however, Advice to litigants A3)

Do I have to be represented by a lawyer?

  • This is not compulsory; it is possible in particular to be assisted by a serving or former staff member of the organisation in question (Article 5(1) of the Rules).

Can I present my case orally?

Can a third party intervene?

  • Article 13 of the Rules provides, in paragraph 1, that "[a]nyone to whom the Tribunal is open under Article II of the Statute may apply to intervene in a complaint requesting that the Tribunal's ruling on the complaint apply to them. The application must set out the basis on which the intervener considerers that she/he is in a situation in fact and in law similar to that of the complainant."
  • The intervention procedure enables the intervener, without filing a complaint, to benefit from the Tribunal's decision if it is favourable to the complainant. Conversely, if the complaint is rejected, the application will likewise be rejected.

At the end of the written proceedings, can I present further submissions?

  • The written proceedings end with the filing of the defendant's surrejoinder. The Tribunal considers that an exchange of pleadings in four stages (complaint brief, reply, rejoinder and surrejoinder) is generally sufficient for examination of the case.
  • (See Advice to litigants B13 and B14)

Is it possible to request a review of a judgment of the Tribunal?

  • The Tribunal's judgments are final and are not appealable (Article VI(1) of the Statute). Nevertheless, applications for review can be considered by the Tribunal. In Judgment 442 the Tribunal defined the grounds for review that are inadmissible and those that could be admissible. The Tribunal has since upheld that precedent.
  • (See Advice to litigants G)

Is it possible to request an interpretation of a judgment of the Tribunal?

  • The Tribunal seeks to ensure that its rulings are sufficiently clear and precise to be easily executed, but where a party considers that a judgment is not clear and asks for an interpretation, an application for interpretation can be filed.

What can I do if the organisation does not execute the judgment in which the Tribunal ruled in my favour?

  • The organisations are bound to execute the Tribunal's judgments and, in most cases, they honour their obligations. If there are serious reasons to believe that the defendant organisation will not honour its obligations or will delay execution, the complainant may, after having allowed the organisation a sufficient and reasonable period of time to execute the judgment, ask the Tribunal, by an application for execution, to rule that the organisation has failed to do so and to order that appropriate measures be taken.

How can I file an application for review, interpretation or execution?

  • An application for review, interpretation or execution must satisfy the formal requirements provided for in the Rules; the applicant or the organisation itself must normally fill in a complaint form, write a brief, provide a list of annexes as well as the annexes themselves, and submit six copies of all these documents. These applications are not subject to time limits nor is there any obligation to exhaust internal means of redress before filing the application.
  • (See Advice to litigants G)

What will the costs be for me?

  • The costs of the proceedings are, as a general rule, borne by the organisation against which the complaint has been filed, regardless of the outcome of the case. The complainant will bear his own costs, including lawyer's fees if any, but these may be fully or partly reimbursed by the organisation if the Tribunal considers this to be appropriate.
  • (See Advice to litigants E)