Review of Investment Claims

Investment Claims. Ian Laird, Editor-in-Chief. Oxford University Press. Web site launched January 2009. Price upon request.

Investment Claims, a “collection of awards, treaties, and substantive law,” is Oxford’s new online tool for researching international investment arbitration. Officially launched in January of 2009, it is already populated with 360 individual reports of arbitration decisions and awards, as well as relevant treaties, laws, and rules from over 150 nations. Its editorial staff and contributor list is made up of attorneys and legal scholars from over fifteen countries, and it is the value they add to the site that makes it worthwhile. By including analysis and making the materials easier to navigate, Investment Claims is cutting down on much of the work any attorney or professor truly interested in international investment arbitration has to do.

Investment Claims is, more than anything else, a source for arbitration awards and decisions. The report it contains for any decision or award can be broken down into the caption, headnote, analysis, and full text of the ruling. The caption is very detailed, inviting a quick skim to glean the relevant players (parties and judges), setting (jurisdiction and governing law), and chronological markers (decision and dispatch dates, in addition to the procedural stage of the ruling). The headnote contains research cues like subject designations and keywords, as well as an outline of relevant issues, facts, and holdings. At the end of the headnote are the lists of counsel and the author of the report’s name, both of which might be more appropriate closer to the caption. The following section contains point by point analysis of the decision or award written by the reporter, ending with a list of citations from the ruling or to relevant comments from other sources. The full text of the decision or award, usually preceded by a hyperlinked outline, closes each report.

These reports, with as much information as they contain, would still be useless if Oxford had not organized them in a clear manner. The site’s Navigation Bar allows one to browse them by investor, date, host state, and subject. The Advanced Search option contains a number of more specific choices, so reports can be narrowed down by arbitrator, counsel, cited cases, or keywords. Reports of awards and decisions aren’t the only important documents on Investment Claims, though. There are sections on treaties, commentaries, institutional rules, national arbitration laws, and particular arbitrators and counsel. None of these categories contains as much material as the reports, so they appear comparatively bare. They lack the additional analysis provided by the reporter, and most contain no keywords or subject designations. Both the treaties and commentaries are also available targets in Advanced Search, but that search’s functionality is less effective in this case as searches are limited to countries, titles, authors, dates, and the full text.

Investment Claims does come with Help, About, and FAQs sections, all of which are robust and capable of answering many important questions I initially had. It was there that I learned some value-added content for the treaties and commentaries section may be forthcoming, and that one may subscribe to new reports by RSS feed. I also saw the breakdown between subscriber-only content and free-access material (the latter is limited to only PDF versions of the full text of the awards and decisions). The actual cost of a subscription is not advertised, impeding a real judgment of how much of a bargain all this information is to the subscriber (free trials are available). Any law firm with a practice heavily involved in international arbitration would likely get its money’s worth from this product, though. An academic library would want to base its acquisition decision on whether any particular faculty member demands such an online upgrade over a basic reporter. It is certainly niche in its coverage, but its depth makes up for its lack of breadth.

Reviewed by Jacob Sayward, serials librarian at Fordham Law’s Leo T. Kissam Memorial Library

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January 2009

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