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Dr Jean Ho

Dr Jean Ho, FCIArb is Associate Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore where she lectures and supervises research on international investment law. Fluent in French and Mandarin, she also serves as counsel in investor-State disputes. Dr Ho was educated at New York University, l’Université de Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and Cambridge University. She is the sole author of State Responsibility for Breaches of Investment Contracts, and principal co-author of International Investment Law and Arbitration, both by Cambridge University Press. Dr Ho is currently working on her third book, Investors’ International Law, forthcoming with Hart Publishing. She is a Member of the BIICL Investment Treaty Forum, a Founding Member of the IEL Collective, a Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Asian International Arbitration Journal, and was nominated by the US Department of State as an Expert to the UNIDROIT Working Group on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts.



State Responsibility for Breaches of Investment Contracts (2018)

Book Blurb: There is a wealth of material that shapes the law of State responsibility for breaches of investment contracts. First impressions of an unsettled or uncertain law have thus far gone unchallenged. But unchallenged first impressions point to the need for a detailed study that investigates and analyses the sources, the content, the characteristics and the evolution of this law. The argument at the heart of this monograph is that the law of State responsibility for breaches of investment contracts has carved a unique and distinct trajectory from the traditional route for the creation of international law, developing principally from arbitral awards, and mimicking, to a considerable extent, the general international law on the protection of aliens and alien property. This book unveils the remarkable journey of the law of State responsibility for breaches of investment contracts, from its origins, through its formation, to its arrival at the cusp of maturity.



What made you write on this topic?

The push came from my mentor’s, Emeritus Professor M Sornarajah’s, seminal article, ‘The Myth of International Contract Law’, which was published back in 1982. Given the frequency of contractual disputes between foreign investors and states, I wondered if a body of international law would have emerged over time and whether its content could be assailed for lacking legitimacy as Sornarajah argues. The result is a book-length response to Sornarajah which I dedicated to him.   


How long did it take to produce your book from initial conception to publication?

8 years.


What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Starting! Additionally, I devote a lot of time to the structure of every piece of writing, be it a 3-page blog post or a 300-page monograph. The most difficult part about writing this monograph though was finessing the central argument that I wanted to make – that the law on State Responsibility developed via a distinct trajectory for contractual breaches. This trajectory did not necessarily favour or disfavour states that breached investment contracts. I had to come to terms with what the data did and did not allow me to prove and this led to a substantial reworking of my doctoral thesis on which this monograph is based. 


Why should people read your book? What’s in it for those with an interest International Law?

It is the first book that carves out the law on State Responsibility applicable to contractual breaches and explains why an international contract law developed in the way it did. Readers will be treated to the fruits of my findings from dusty diplomatic archives and walk away with the knowledge that the law on State Responsibility can develop through the random amalgamation of several, and at times unexpected, sources.


What book is currently on your bedside table?

Gregory Afinogenov’s Spies and Scholars – Chinese Secrets and Imperial Russia’s Quest for World Power (HUP 2020). Also Issue 43(1) of the London Review of Books.


What are you working on now?

I’m working on my second monograph which discusses property regulation under international law, with a twist.