This course will introduce the international legal rules, principles and institutions of the World Trade Organisation. Students who undertake this course will gain an understanding of the WTO legal regime through the major WTO Agreements as well as of substantive WTO law, drawing heavily on reports of the WTO Appellate Body and panels. The course will cover the basic principles relating to trade in goods and trade in services, as well as some of the more specialised WTO Agreements. These will be examined through a consideration of the WTO Agreements and the legal disputes that have arisen under those agreements. Students will be asked to think critically about the effect of the WTO’s legal regime on Australia, and on developing countries. Although not a prerequisite, students are advised that some knowledge of international law, international relations and/or economics would be a distinct advantage.

Topics covered include:

  • introduction to international trade law, the history and institutions of the multilateral trading system and overview of the structure of the WTO and the WTO Agreements
  • examination of the understanding on rules and procedures governing the settlement of disputes and the processes by which trade disputes are managed and resolved in the WTO
  • introduction to tariffs, tariff negotiations and tariff bindings
  • background to the general ban on quantitative restrictions
  • examination of the national treatment and MFN obligations (as well as general exceptions to those obligations) through the relevant case law pertaining to Article III of the GATT
  • general exceptions under Article XX
  • introduction of principles underlying other WTO Agreements such as the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosantary Measures, the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and the Agreement of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
  • introduction to the General Agreement on Trade in Services
  • examination of the rules concerning granting of subsidies, as well as the disciplines regulation the use of trade remedies such as countervailing, anti-dumping and safeguard measures.

Michelle Healy

After graduating from the University of Queensland in 1990, Michelle worked as an Associate to the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Anthony Mason. She completed an LL.M. degree at Columbia University in 1993 before spending several years working as a corporate attorney at U.S. law firms in New York and London. She returned to the TC Beirne school of law in 2002 and 2003, lecturing in competition and company law, before moving to Switzerland to undertake postgraduate studies. She is currently a Senior Counsellor in the Legal Affairs Division of the WTO Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

Course information

Course code

10, 11 March; 28, 29 April 2018


This course may also be taken as a CPD course or a non-award course.