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Dundas Review of Rubins-Kinsella International Law Book

[Update: The Second Edition was published by Oxford in 2020]

[Note: See other reviews here]

Latest review of my book International Investment, Political Risk, and Dispute Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide published in late 2005, by the well-known Scottish practitioner/arbitrator Hew R. Dundas, in Arbitration: The International Journal of Arbitration, Mediation and Dispute Management, the journal of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators:

“Oh No – not another book on investment arbitration!” might be one’s first response but, if so, a wrong one; while “I couldn’t put it down” is a time-honoured publisher’s cliché, it genuinely applies to this book. The book is a collaboration between a well-known international arbitration lawyer (Rubins) and the General Counsel (Kinsella) of [AOI, a laser manufacturer], and therefore avoids the tendency dryness that can infect some over-specialist academic tomes. It is in three parts (i) Assessment and Pre-Investment Management of Political Risk (ii) The International Law Framework of Investment Protection and Political Risk and (iii) Dispute Resolution – these three parts total 442 pages; there are also extensive (300 pages) appendices (see below) and a reasonably-comprehensive index Your reviewer has approached this book wearing two main alternating hats: first, that of an international arbitrator closely involved with the investment arbitration world and, secondly, that of the former Head of Legal and Group Insurance Manager (including Political Risk) of a large oil company. So far as this book is concerned, both hats are very comfortable. Part I is, perhaps for the specialist, sometimes a little too general but this is reflected in the wide range of matters covered, typically in a succinct and clear style so that even in specialist areas your reviewer welcomed the authors’ analysis since, as a minimum, it helps the reader reassess his/her thoughts and priorities; for example, the list of definitions (at page 34ff) of BT/BOT/BLT/BOO/BOOT/BTO is useful clarification. The authors’ analysis (page 53ff) of stabilisation clauses proved most welcomely succinct with a clarity and precision sadly lacking in a recent (and turgid) PhD thesis on this topic for which your reviewer was External Examiner.

Part II changes up a gear and includes some excellent material e.g. a thorough yet succinct section on the nationality of claims (135ff), and an interesting analysis of arbitral decisions (250ff). Part III is, so far as arbitration and dispute resolution are concerned, and quite properly in context, focussed wholly on investment and other international arbitration issues including 56 pages on procedure forming a compact and useful summary. There is also a useful 40-page chapter on conciliation including even a section on Med-Arb. Part III continues in that higher gear with interesting sections on “Preliminary Treaty Concerns” (272ff), “Problem Areas” (297ff) and “Challenge of Awards” (353ff); these were a pleasure to read. Throughout the book, the materials are well-integrated and very much up-to-date as subscribers to OGEMID will recognise (but note that the authors’ preface is dated August 2005 and the book published in 2005) Too many arbitration textbooks reproduce the same materials leading to much unnecessary duplication (the Arbitration Act 1996, ICC Rules, LCIA Rules etc etc appear far too often). This book includes materials I do not otherwise possess including the OPIC Contract of Insurance, the MIGA Contract of Guarantee, even a private insurance contract and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (USA). The Washington Convention (1965), the UNCITRAL Model Law (1985) and the UNCITRAL Rules (1976) reappear as in so many texts. Most of these are easily available on the ICSID and UNCITRAL websites so a single page of URLs would be a more constructive approach. Importantly, there is an extensive and valuable list of book/article sources, such list not being otherwise readily available; you reviewer notes for the record that he discovered he had been cited only after completing this review ! The book reads well as regards literary style, generally easy on the eye and not overusing jargon; key issues are generally well-explained and, perhaps, we see the benefits of the collaboration between in-house Counsel and a practising lawyer at the sharp edge of modern developments. In conclusion, this book is valuable in its own right but, at a mere £90, must be considered a bargain.

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