Articles by Andrew Watson and Stacey Steele in the latest issue (41, 2016) of the Journal of Japanese Law review recent developments in Japanese legal education. They helpfully add to an already surprisingly voluminous literature in Western languages on the topic. This short Comment summarises some background before sketching some innovative ways forward. [A fully-footnoted version is forthcoming in the next issue of the Journal.]

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Treaty-based investor-state arbitration (or ISDS more generally) is an increasingly topical issue, as FDI flows continue to grow, especially across Southeast Asia and the rest of the Asian region, and host states have begun to experience some claims brought by disgruntled foreign investors.

This conference organised for Thursday 16 February 2017 by the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney (CAPLUS), and the Sydney Centre for International Law (SCIL), builds on the lively and timely conference funded by Chulalongkorn University's ASEAN Studies Centre in Bangkok on 18 July 2016, which compared the experiences and policy debates in each of the ten ASEAN member states. Those country reports are now being revised for review and eventual publication in a leading journal, with versions then being combined with papers on pan-Asian investment treaties and arbitration to be presented on 16 February 2017, for a co-edited book published by the same legal publisher.

This upcoming conference will bring together leading experts from Southeast Asia, North Asia, India and Oceania, including several from institutional partners of USydney. It will help round off a major cross-institutional and interdisciplinary research project into international investment dispute management more generally, funded by the Australian Research Council since 2014. The annual SCIL "International Law - Year in Review" symposium will also take place the next day, on Friday 17 February 2017.

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The manuscript is in press for "Independent Directors in Asia", co-edited for Cambridge University Press with ANJeL stalwarts Profs Harald Baum (MPI Hamburg), Souichirou Kozuka (Gakushuin, Tokyo) and Dan Puchniak (NUS). As previously mentioned on this Blog, contributions have been extensively workshopped at major conferences in Berlin and then Singapore, as well as by individual authors in other forums.

A longer version of the chapter comparing Australia, which I co-authored with Fady Aoun, has also been published in June 2016 by the University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review. Our summary of some trends revealed by the broader comparative analysis in the CUP book is forthcoming by November from the Company and Securities Law Journal. As we conclude briefly in that Note, a comparative perspective on the complex diffusion of independent director requirements across Asia makes us wary about simply extending the requirements for listed companies to industry-based superannuation funds in Australia, as proposed in a failed Bill last year but still being developed through self-regulation.

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ANJeL is pleased to host the first event below in Brisbane, and co-host the second at UNSW (as well as the 10 August CAPLUS symposium on Consumer and Contract Law Reform in Asia).

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[A shorter version of this posting was published on 1 July 2016 on the East Asia Forum blog.]

International investment treaties and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) are in the news again, notably in Australia and India, which are negotiating a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP or “ASEAN+6” FTA). The possibility is emerging of a shift from US-style to contemporary EU-style treaty drafting in the broader Asian region, as a new compromise between the interests of foreign investors and host states.

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Private law and regulatory frameworks impacting on consumer protection are being reformed in many parts of Asia, the world economy's fastest-growing region. This development is important for Australian exporters and outbound investors, as well as policy-makers engaged over 2016 in a five-yearly review of the Australian Consumer Law. [My Submission to that inquiry is here - Download file]

This symposium on 10 August 2016, hosted by the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney (CAPLUS) with support from the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL), brings together experts from around the Asian region to outline and compare reform initiatives achieved or underway in consumer law as well as contract law more generally. [On 12 August at UNSW, ANJeL is also supporting a symposium on "Democracy, Pacificism & Constitutional Change: Amending Article 9?": the draft program is here - Download file.]

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement was signed in February 2016 by 12 Asia-Pacific economies that already account for 40% of world GDP, including the United States, Japan and Australia. If ratified, economists model significant economic growth prospects, especially for smaller and/or less developed member states, with a considerable impetus coming from greater cross-border investment. Further economic benefits are expected if others join the existing signatories, with expressions of interest already coming from leaders in several Asian states.

However, whether the treaty will be ratified and come into force remains unclear, partly because of some ongoing opposition to the TPP’s investment chapter provisions even within existing signatories, for example from some quarters within Australia (and, to a lesser extent, Japan). One focus of criticism is the extra option of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), aimed at more credibly enforcing the substantive protections and liberalisation commitments of host states. My paper for a conference on FTAs in Melbourne on 19 May 2016, (at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2767996 and outlined below) assesses such concerns.

A version will also be presented at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore on 5 August, for their interdisciplinary project on the impact of the TPP in the region. In addition, on 4 August I will present a broader paper on "Rebalancing Investment Treaties and Investor-State Arbitration in Asia and Australia" at the SMU workshop on "Regulation and Investment Disputes: Asian Perspectives".

The pros and cons of ISDS nowadays will be further addressed in another joint research conference and book project with Chulalongkorn University, funded by its ASEAN Studies Centre, at a conference in Bangkok on 18 July that compares the experiences and debates over treaty-based ISDS as well as contract-based investment arbitration across all ten ASEAN member states (including current TPP signatories, and potential additional ones like Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines). The final program and speakers are listed below.

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Japanese Law in Asia-Pacific Socio-Economic Context
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