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UN Dispute Tribunal

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Who can file an application with the UNDT?

You can file an application with the UNDT if you are a staff member or former staff member who considers that there has been an administrative decision that violates your rights as an employee of the Organization. You can also submit an application if you are a person making claims in the name of an incapacitated or deceased staff member of the Organization.

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Can I file an application with the UNDT if the United Nations employed me only for a few days or weeks?

As a UN staff member, you may file an application with the UNDT no matter how long your contract is. But note that if you are an intern, type II volunteer gratis personnel or a volunteer, you do not have access to the UNDT, even though you may request a management evaluation of the administrative decision.

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What kind of decision can I challenge?

The authority of the UNDT is limited to what is called an “administrative decision” that you believe to be in non-compliance with the terms of your appointment or your contract of employment..

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What steps must I take before filing an application with the UNDT?

Before submitting an application to the UNDT, a staff member or former staff member must submit to the Secretary-General – in practice to the MEU (Management Evaluation Unit) in the Secretariat or the office to which this authority was delegated in funds and programmes and UNHCR– a request for management evaluation of the administrative decision, if so required (not all decisions requires you to request such a management evaluation). Please see Guidelines for filing an application.

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How can I file an application?

You may present your case before the UNDT in person, or seek the representation of a counsel from the Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA) or a counsel authorized to practice law in a national jurisdiction. You may also be represented, free of charge, by a staff member or a former staff member of the United Nations or one of the specialized agencies. You should file your application by using the eFiling portal. If you are unable to file through the eFiling portal, you may submit your application, either electronically by email or in hard-copy (by mail or hand-delivery), to the appropriate Registry in New York, Geneva or Nairobi (in this case, you should make sure to verify the appropriate Registry, based on the location of the office or duty station where you were serving at the time when the administrative decision you wish to appeal was taken — please see Guidelines for filing an application. Irrespective of the way you make your filing (through the eFiling portal, electronically by email, or in hard copy by mail or hand-delivery), your application must comply with the requirements of article 8 of the UNDT Rules of Procedure PDF document.

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What is the eFiling portal?

The eFiling portal gives access to the web-based Court Case Management System. It is the primary manner to file submissions to the UN Dispute Tribunal. The eFiling portal is an interface that allows the parties to a dispute to file their submissions electronically, ensuring that the application is directed to the appropriate Registry. It will also allow you to receive notifications and have easy access to the documentation relating to your case (communications, submissions, orders by the Tribunal, etc.).

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How do I access the eFiling portal?

A staff member or former staff member willing to file an application shall, as a first step, request a login account to access the eFiling portal. Once she/he receives an account, she/he can then freely access the eFiling portal, and file her/his submissions using the relevant forms. Please see Guidelines for filing an application and User Guide: Filing a new case PDF document for further information.

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What language can I use?

You may file your application in any of the official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). However, if the application is not in English or French, the working languages of the UNDT, additional time for translation will be necessary and this will subsequently delay the handling of the case.

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What are the deadlines to request management evaluation of the contested administrative decision?

Within 60 days of the receipt of the administrative decision that you wish to contest, you must submit your request for management evaluation. If a person makes an application on behalf of an incapacitated or deceased staff member of the United Nations, he or she has one calendar year to submit it. Please see Guidelines for filing an application.

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What are the time limits for filing an application?

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the management evaluation and you wish to appeal the administrative decision to the UNDT, you must submit an application to the UNDT within 90 calendar days after you received the outcome of the management evaluation. If you do not receive a response to your request for management evaluation within the 30/45 days deadline, depending on whether you are stationed in New York or elsewhere, you must submit your application to the UNDT within 90 calendar days after the expiry of the relevant response period for the management evaluation. In cases where a management evaluation is not required (e.g., when the decision contested is a disciplinary measure), your application must be submitted to the UNDT within 90 calendar days after your receipt of the administrative decision. Please see Guidelines for filing an application.

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

You may request an extension of time limits to file your application by using the relevant form and stating your reasons. A request for extension of time limits should be filed through the eFiling portal. If you are unable to file through the eFiling portal, you may submit your request, either electronically or in hard-copy (by mail or hand-delivery), to the appropriate Registry. The Judge will then decide whether she/he will allow the extension. Note that the Tribunal may suspend or waive the deadlines for a limited period of time and only in exceptional cases. The Tribunal does not have the authority to suspend or waive the deadlines for management evaluation.

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Does the UNDT provide legal or financial assistance to applicants?

No, but you may consult the Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA), which provides free legal advice to UN staff members.

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Do I have to be represented by a lawyer?

No, you may also represent yourself or ask another staff member or former staff member to represent you. It is desirable to have professional legal assistance. You can consult the Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA), which provides free legal advice to UN staff members. Otherwise, you may also retain, at your own expenses, a private counsel, who has to be authorized to practice law (admitted to the bar) in a national state.

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Do I have the right to be heard in person or to call witnesses?

As such, you do not have a right to be heard in person or call witnesses. But you may request the judge about this, who will then decide whether or not she/he will allow it.

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What happens after an application is filed?

The next step in the process is that the Administration, called the respondent at the UNDT level, must submit its written reply to your application within 30 calendar days of its receipt. After you have sent your application and the respondent has replied, the judge assigned to the case will decide how to further proceed with it. Please see Guidelines for filing an application.

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Can my case be heard as a priority?

There are no rules about giving priority to any special cases. The handling of the case depends on the judge.

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What remedies can the UNDT order, or how can the UNDT correct a wrongful administrative decision?

The UNDT can order the Administration to rescind the administrative decision, order specific performance, and/or provide the staff member with compensation for the breach of her/his employment contract (which includes all the relevant legal UN instruments). Specific performance means that the administration is ordered to carry out an obligation it has according to the employment contract and which it has refused to do.

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Can an applicant be reimbursed for costs, such as attorney’s fees and other associated expenses?

In cases where the UNDT finds that the Administration has “manifestly abused” the UNDT proceedings, it may award costs to the applicant. This may, for example, include expenses such as attorney’s fees and other associated expenses.

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Can an appeal be filed against a UNDT judgment or can the UNDT be asked to reconsider a judgment?

Yes, a UNDT judgment can be appealed to the United Nations Appeals Tribunal, within the time limit provided for in the statute of the United Nations Appeals Tribunal.. An application may also be filed with the UNDT for the Tribunal: (1) to revise an executable judgment (i.e. a judgment which can no longer be appealed) on the basis of a previously unknown decisive fact, (2) to correct a clerical or arithmetical mistakes, or errors arising therein from any accidental slip or omission, or (3) to interpret the meaning or scope of a judgment.

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

Ultimately, you may appeal to the UNDT to enforce the execution of a judgment. Since the judgments of the UNDT are binding, the administration must follow them. The UNDT may also refer the case to the Secretary-General to enforce accountability. But note that if the Administration chooses to appeal the judgment to the United Nations Appeals Tribunal, the execution of the judgment is suspended.

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How long does it take the UNDT to render a judgment on an application?

There is no set timeframe for how long time a case takes before the UNDT. It not only depends on the case and its complexity, but also on how the parties themselves manage the proceedings and on the overall caseload of the UNDT.

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When are oral hearings held?

The judge decides whether to hold oral hearings in the case. If no such hearing has been scheduled in your case, you may request the judge to do so, but it is for her/him to decide whether it is necessary.

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Are oral proceedings public?

Oral proceedings before the UNDT are public unless the judge decides otherwise.

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How to attend a hearing?

Please follow the guideline included in the “court etiquette”. PDF document

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What does mediation mean?

Mediation is an informal alternative to the legal proceedings before the UNDT. The objective is for the parties to settle their dispute amicably through the assistance of a mediator provided by the Mediation Division of the Ombudsman. The process is voluntary, which means that the both parties have to consent to it. The parties may at any time during the proceedings before the UNDT decide to transfer the case to mediation, and the UNDT proceeding will be stayed while the mediation negotiations are ongoing. The judge may also propose to the parties to send the case to mediation but cannot order this.

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What are the citation rules for judgments and orders of the Dispute Tribunal?

Please refer to the basic citation rules section of the Tribunal's website.

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