Frequently asked questions

This document is intended to provide general information to help readers answer some basic questions about how the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (“IDB Group”).

This document is not equivalent to legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such. Any specific questions concerning legal rights should be consulted with an attorney.

In case of discrepancies, the Statute and the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Tribunal of the IDB Group, including future amendments, should prevail over this document.

What does the Administrative Tribunal do?

The Administrative Tribunal hears complaints by which a staff member of the IDB Group alleges non-observance of his/her contract of employment or terms and conditions of appointment, provided the complainant has exhausted all other remedies required within the formal system for the resolution of grievances of the Inter-American Development Bank (the “IDB”) or the Inter-American Investment Corporation (the “IIC”), as applicable, within the appropriate time periods (Article II(1) of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal).

 

Why was the Administrative Tribunal created?

The IDB and the IIC, like many international organizations, enjoy immunity from jurisdiction of the courts of their member countries. For this reason, the Administrative Tribunal was established to adjudicate disputes which arise out of the employment relationship of the IDB or the IIC with their employees.

When was the Administrative Tribunal created?

The Administrative Tribunal was established by the Board of Executive Directors of the IDB on April 29, 1981. The IIC became subject to the Administrative Tribunal’s jurisdiction by resolution of its Board of Executive Directors of November 19, 1991.

How many cases has the Administrative Tribunal received since its creation?

The Administrative Tribunal has issued 101 decisions since its creation through December 31, 2016.

How is the Administrative Tribunal structured?

The Tribunal is composed of seven judges, whose only connection with the IDB Group is their service as judges on the Administrative Tribunal. The judges must be nationals of member countries of the IDB or of the IIC, but no two of them can be nationals of the same country. They must be persons of recognized professional competence and integrity who have the necessary qualifications to occupy a similar position in the highest judicial courts of their countries or who are jurisconsults of recognized competence (Article III (1) of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal).

In addition, an Executive Secretary, appointed by the Board of Executive Directors, is responsible for assisting the Tribunal in discharging its functions ((Article V(1) of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal).

How are the Judges selected?

Judges are appointed by the Board of Executive Directors of the IDB from a list of candidates presented to it by a Nominating Committee for the Administrative Tribunal and are appointed for one non-renewable term of six years (Article III of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal).

How are the President and Vice-President of the Administrative Tribunal selected?

In its last session of each year, the Administrative Tribunal elects a President and a Vice President, who will respectively hold office until December 31 of the following year, unless in the meantime either should cease to be a Member of the Administrative Tribunal. The President and the Vice-President may be re-elected (Article 4 (1) of the Rules of Procedures of the Administrative Tribunal).

What are the responsibilities of the President of the Administrative Tribunal?

The President represents the Administrative Tribunal in all institutional matters and presides over its meetings. When the Administrative Tribunal is not in session, the President of the Tribunal or the presiding Member of a panel will decide all issues that may arise in the processing of a case (Article 4 (2) of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Tribunal).

What is a panel?

The President of the Administrative Tribunal may appoint a panel of three Members to hear and decide a case. At the same time, the President of the Administrative Tribunal will designate the member who will preside over the panel (Art. 19 (1) of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Tribunal).

How is the Executive Secretary of the Administrative Tribunal selected?

An Executive Secretary to the Administrative Tribunal is appointed by the Board of Executive Directors from a list of candidates presented to it by a Nominating Committee. The Executive Secretary may not be selected from current or former employee of the IDB or IIC (Article V of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal).

What are the functions of the Executive Secretary of the Administrative Tribunal?

The Executive Secretary of the Administrative Tribunal is responsible for assisting the Administrative Tribunal in discharging its functions.

Who can file a complaint with the Administrative Tribunal?

A complaint can be filed by any employee of the IDB or the IIC , including consultants and retired staff members (Article II 1) of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal).

Can staff members who were employed by the IDB Group only for a short period file a complaint with the Tribunal?

Yes. A staff member can file an application with the Administrative Tribunal alleging breach of his or her contract of employment or terms of appointment, regardless the length of his or her contract.

Must complainants be represented by an attorney?

No. Complainants may be represented by an attorney, but it is not required. An attorney representing complainants must be officially licensed or accredited to practice law in any country that is a member of the IDB or the IIC.

Is there any procedure required before a complaint can be filed with the Tribunal?

In accordance with Article IIof the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal, prior to submitting a complaint to the Administrative Tribunal, the complainant must first exhaust all available internal remedies in a timely manner. This means that a Certificate of Conclusion of Mediation, a Final Decision of the Vice President for Finance and Administration or a Final Decision of the Administration Subcommittee, as applicable, must be attached to the submitted complaint.

When is a complaint deemed admissible to be heard by the Tribunal?

Complaints are deemed admissible to be heard only in the following cases (Article II (2)of the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal):

a) When the application is presented to the Tribunal within 120 calendar days of the date of exhaustion of all other remedies required within the formal system for the resolution of employee grievances, as provided by the policies of the IDB or the IIC (as applicable), including that such remedies must be exercised within their respective time periods.

b) When the application concerns policies interpreted by a Plan Administration Committee, such application shall be admissible only if it is presented before the Administrative Tribunal within 120 calendar days following the date on which the notice of a Final Decision of the Plan Administration Committee has been provided to the Applicant.

c) When the application contests a decision of the Administration of the IDB or the IIC imposing a disciplinary sanction as contemplated in the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct of the IDB and in its Procedures, or in the relevant ethics and disciplinary codes or policies of the IIC, and such application is presented to the Tribunal within 120 calendar days from notice of such decision to the complainant.

How can I file a complaint?

The complaint is filed with Executive Secretariat of the Administrative Tribunal at the IDB’s headquarters. If the complainant lives in a place other than Washington, D.C., the complaint can be filed at the nearest IDB country office. The complaint must be filed no later than 120 days following the date on which all internal remedies have been exhausted, as provided by the policies of the IDB or the IIC (as applicable), including that such remedies must be exercised within their respective time periods. The complaint is filed in one original and three copies.

In what languages may a complaint be filed?

The working languages of the Administrative Tribunal are Spanish and English. However, a complainant can request that the proceedings be conducted in one of the other official languages (French or Portuguese) of the IDB or the IIC (Article 34 (1)of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Tribunal).

Is there a time-limit to file a Complaint?

Yes. Article IIof the Statute of the Administrative Tribunal requires complaints to be filed within 120 days after the following:

  • Employee receives certification of Conclusion of Mediation.
  • Employee receives final decision of the Administration Subcommittee (Pension).
  • Employee receives the Final Decision of the Vice President for Finance and Administration on the basis of the report prepared by the Ethics Officer, the employee’s comments and the Ethics Officer’s determination.

How often does the Administrative Tribunal meet?

The Administrative Tribunal meets as often as necessary based on the number of applications before it. The Administrative Tribunal must hold a minimum of one session per year. In recent years, the Administrative Tribunal has held an average of three sessions per year.

What are the possible remedies the Administrative Tribunal can order?

Remedies may include annulment of management decisions, compensation, restoration of salary, benefits and other entitlements, as applicable.

When does the Tribunal hold public sessions?

Only the sessions to hear oral argument are public.

Where are the public session held?

The Tribunal, as well as its panels, holds sessions at the headquarters of the IDB unless the presiding judge considers that the efficient conduct of the proceedings warrants holding sessions elsewhere (Article 6(2) of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Tribunal).

How do the judges make their decisions?

The Administrative Tribunal takes decisions by majority vote of the Panel or the Tribunal as constituted for any session. In the event of a tie vote, the President of the Tribunal or the presiding member has the decisive vote.

Are the judgments of the Tribunal published?

Yes, judgments are public in accordance with the provisions of the IDB’s Access to Information Policy and are published on the Administrative Tribunal’s website: www.iadb.org/tribunal

Can a Complainant ask for anonymity?

Yes. A complainant who wishes that his or her name not appear in the documents that the Administrative Tribunal publishes may request anonymity at the time when the complaint is filed with the Administrative Tribunal or at any time before the case is listed for decision by the Administrative Tribunal (Article 31(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the Administrative Tribunal).

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

Yes, the Administrative Tribunal may award costs, including attorney’s fees, in its final judgment. The award of costs is discretionary and depends on the individual facts of the case. An application for costs must be made to the Administrative Tribunal no later than seven days after the case is listed for decision.

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