As of Dec 11, the equivalent of the supreme court at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ceased to function. Two of the remaining three judges on the appellate body completed their terms. The body, which hears appeals against decisions by WTO dispute-settlement panels - the equivalent of lower courts - requires a minimum of three judges in order to make rulings. With only one judge now in place, it can no longer do so.
This situation has arisen because, since 2017, the United States has been blocking the appointment of new judges to the appellate body, whose decisions it has often questioned. Notably, Washington has accused the body of "judicial overreach" by addressing issues beyond the scope of the appeals it is supposed to consider.
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