22 November 2011

The definitions used in the glossary are not legal definitions and are not to be relied upon in submissions to the Tribunals.

Amicus curiae ("Friend-of-the-court")

Provision of information ("friend-of-the-court" brief) on a point of law or some other aspect of a case under review to assist the Tribunal in deciding a matter before it. The Tribunal decides whether to admit the information.


Request by a party (see Appellant, below) to affirm, reverse, modify or remand a UNDT judgment. An appeal may only be filed on a number of specific grounds.


Party (a staff member or the respondent) appealing a judgment of the UNDT; a staff member appealing a decision of the Pension Fund or an agency or entity that has accepted the UNAT‘s jurisdiction.


A staff member (or former staff member or person acting on behalf of a staff member) who has submitted an application before the UNDT requesting judgment on a contested decision.

Application on the Merits

The application in which the staff member identifies the administrative decision s/he contests and explains why this decision was wrong by outlining the facts of the case, her/his legal contentions and the relief which s/he is seeking.

Case management

The [further] preparation of the case until it is ready for judgment.


Correction by the relevant Tribunal of a clerical or arithmetical mistake, or of an error arising from an accidental slip or omission, either upon an application made by either party, or on the Tribunal‘s own initiative.


A legal adviser; a term used to refer to lawyers in a case. In the UN internal justice system it is a representative of a party in a matter before a Tribunal.

Counsel for a staff member (or former staff member or affected dependant of a staff member) is often a legal officer of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA) but may also be an outside attorney or a volunteer staff member or former staff member. In some cases staff members may choose to serve as their own counsel and represent themselves (pro se).

Counsel for the Secretary-General of the United Nations or Head of an agency, fund or programme (Administration) is normally a lawyer staff member of the Administrative Law Section (ALS) or Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) in the UN secretariat, or of the respective legal office of an agency, fund or programme.

Cross Appeal

When an appeal has been filed by one of the parties (see Appellant, above), requesting that UNAT review a decision made by the UNDT, the other party may also file an appeal for review of the decision. The second appeal is called a cross-appeal.

Directions Hearing/Status Conference

An appearance of the parties before a judge for case management purposes.


Implementation of a judgment, usually within a specific time limit.


A meeting/session that is convened by a judge to provide parties to a dispute with an opportunity to state their case.


Explanation made by the relevant Tribunal as to the meaning or scope of all or part of a judgment.


Application filed by any person who may appear before the relevant Tribunal to join in a case before or during consideration by that Tribunal if the judgment to be issued by the Tribunal may affect his or her right.

Decisions Review

An evaluation of whether an administrative decision(s) has been taken in conformity with the Staff Regulations and Rules, administrative guidance, and relevant jurisprudence.

The purpose of this step is to give management a chance to correct itself and/or provide acceptable remedies, where appropriate, and to reduce the number of cases that proceed to formal litigation.

Office of Administration of Justice (OAJ)

The Office of Administration of Justice is responsible for coordinating the functioning of the new internal justice system. It is headed by an Executive Director appointed by the Secretary-General.

The Office of Staff Legal Assistance and the Registries for the Dispute Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal are part of the Office of Administration of Justice. With its headquarters in New York, the Office of Administration of Justice also has a presence - through the UNDT registries and the branch offices of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance - in Geneva, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and Beirut.

Office of Staff Legal Assistance (OSLA)

OSLA provides legal advice to staff members who wish to appeal an administrative decision, or who are subject to disciplinary action. For this purpose, there is an Office of Staff Legal Assistance, staffed by full-time legal officers at Headquarters, as well as in Geneva, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Beirut. This Office replaces the Panels of Counsel. At any stage of a dispute, or even in anticipation of a dispute, a staff member may seek advice and assistance from legal officers in the Office of Staff Legal Assistance. The legal officers can advise on the legal merits of a case and what options the staff member might have. If a staff member chooses to proceed with a case in the formal system, the Office of Staff Legal Assistance will assist throughout the process.

The Office of Staff Legal Assistance is an entity of the Office of Administration of Justice.


Any decision of the judge taken in the course of the proceedings of the case, which is not a final disposition of a substantive issue of a case.


Fit for acceptance by a legal body. Examples of cases that are not receivable include those not submitted within relevant time limits where no exceptional circumstances for the late submission exist, or cases that are not within the jurisdiction of the relevant legal body to consider.


Head of the Registry of a Tribunal that facilitates the work of that Tribunal and its judges. The UNDT has a Registrar in each of its three locations: New York, Geneva and Nairobi. The UNAT has one Registrar based in New York. The Principal Registrar in the Office of Administration of Justice in New York oversees the work of the Registries of both Tribunals.


The office or secretariat of a Tribunal that facilitates the work of the Tribunal and its judges. The UNDT has Registries in New York, Geneva and Nairobi. The UNAT has one Registry based in New York.


Sending back a case before deciding on the merits for the purpose of initiating or correcting a required procedure, within a specific time limit.


The party in a matter before a Tribunal who responds to an application or appeal initiated by the opposing party. Before the UNDT, the Respondent is normally the Secretary-General of the United Nations or Head of the agency, fund or programme (Administration) against which a staff member (or former staff member or affected dependant of a staff member) has submitted an application requesting judgment on a contested decision. Before the UNAT, the Respondent will either be the Administration or the staff member, depending on which party initiated the appeal.


Review by the relevant Tribunal of a judgment, to take into account an important new fact that was discovered after the judgment was rendered and that was not known to the Tribunal or to the party requesting revision.

Status Conference

The general objective of the status conference is to examine and address all issues having a bearing on the readiness of the case for consideration and final determination by the Tribunal.

While requesting that you bring any such issues to the attention of the Tribunal for inclusion in the agenda as appropriate, please note that any or all of the following matters may be included in the agenda for discussion at the Status Conference:

(a) The comprehensiveness of the Tribunal’s records as inherited from the Joint Appeals Board;

(b) Whether or not any party has additional information/submission outside the submissions already made;

(c) Whether or not any further hearings should be held, and if so, the date, proposed length and means of participation of parties or their representatives (personal appearance, video-link, telephone or any other electronic means, etc.);

(d) Whether or not witnesses will be called and/or oral evidence will be presented by any party, and, if so, the justification for such testimony and/oral evidence;

(e) The status of counsel representation for the Applicant;

(f) A schedule of further steps in the handling of the appeal.

Suspension of Action

A particular proceeding before the UNDT initiated by a staff member, who seeks a temporary suspension of an administrative decision s/he contests while the case is awaiting the outcome of a management evaluation or a judgment of the UNDT. A suspension of action is only granted if certain criteria are satisfied, namely if 1) the contested decision appears to be unlawful, 2) in case of particular urgency, and 3) where implementing the decision would cause irreparable harm.

Tolling (of time limit)

Tolling will prevent the time limit for filing a legal submission from running while a particular condition exists (e.g., while attempts at informal resolution of a dispute are being pursued).

UN Appeals Tribunal (UNAT)

Decisions by the Dispute Tribunal may be appealed, either by staff or the administration, to the United Nations Appeals Tribunal. The Statute of the Appeals Tribunal allow for appeals in cases where it is alleged that the UN Dispute Tribunal has either exceeded its jurisdiction or failed to exercise it; or that it has erred on question of fact or law or procedure.

The Appeals Tribunal is composed of seven judges, and its Registry is based in New York. It will normally hold two sessions a year, with one of them always being in New York.

The full Statute of the UN Appeals Tribunal can be found in the annex to General Assembly resolution 63/253of 24 December 2008.

UN Dispute Tribunal (UNDT)

UNDT is the first instance in the formal two-tier system to which staff members can formally dispute an administrative decision taken against him/her. When no resolution through informal means can be arrived at, and when the result of the management evaluation is not to the satisfaction of the staff member, the staff member can file an application to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, as a court of first instance. The UN Dispute Tribunal operates on a full-time basis and is comprised of five professional judges, three full-time and two half-time. It has registries in New York, Geneva and Nairobi.

The UN Dispute Tribunal will examine the facts of the case, and will conduct, where necessary, oral proceedings. These will normally be held in public. The judgments of the Dispute Tribunal are binding. Both the staff member and the administration have the right to appeal a judgment rendered by the UN Dispute Tribunal to the UN Appeals Tribunal, in accordance with that Tribunal‘s statute.

The UN Dispute Tribunal is an entity of the Office of Administration of Justice.