A WTO release indicated that the panel meeting on Renewable Energy dispute between Canada and Japan will be open to the public at the request of the parties to the dispute. The release said
"This public session is expected to start at 10.00 on Thursday 2 February 2012. The public viewing will take place through a real time closed-circuit television broadcast. The public session of the Panel meeting with the parties may continue at 15.00 on Friday 3 February 2012 if the Panel so decides.
The Panel will also meet in a session to hear the third parties on Friday 3 February 2012, at 10.00. The Panel will start this session by opening a portion of it to public viewing, where third parties wishing to make their oral statements in a public session will be invited to do so. Public viewing will take place through a real time closed-circuit television broadcast....WTO accredited journalists and non-governmental organizations wanting to attend should indicate their interest by using the email address above. They do not need to complete the registration form.
The general public to whom seats have been allocated will need to present a valid official photo identification on-site to access the meeting room. Members of the public allocated a seat are requested to arrive in good time as security checks may delay access to the viewing room.
Please note that any form of recording or filming is prohibited and that mobile phones should be switched off during the public viewing.
The WTO cannot offer any support, including financial, for accommodation, flight arrangements and visas."
It would be an interesting study to find out how many Panel disputes are open to the public and what are the considerations behind the parties making it open to the public. An analysis of members agreeing to public hearing as well as the types of disputes could throw up interesting insights. Are these hearings webcast?