The International Law Framework of National Investment Laws

Dr. Jarrod Hepburn*
Senior Lecturer, Melbourne Law School,
University of Melbourne, Australia


Alongside now-controversial investment treaties, many states also maintain national investment laws. Although these laws offer protections similar to investment treaties and are increasingly applied in investor-state arbitration, they have – unlike the treaties – attracted limited scholarly scrutiny. This article argues that national investment laws can plausibly be characterized either as unilateral acts in international law or as domestic law. The article examines the significant consequences that follow from these characterizations, providing the first comprehensive analysis of these hybrid statutes from the perspective of international law.

Key words: unilateral acts, investment statutes, foreign investment laws, investment treaties, state responsibility, consent to arbitration, investor-state arbitration, non-state actors.
* This paper draws from earlier work published at Jarrod Hepburn, ‘Domestic Investment Statutes in International Law’ (2018) 112 American Journal of International Law, 658.

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