Amicus Briefs in the WTO: An Uneasy Compromise

An amicus curiae means a “friend of the court” who, though not a party to a lawsuit, provides the court with information or a brief because of his strong interest in the dispute. Since the Appellate Body ("AB") of the World Trade Organisation ("WTO") decided that panels may accept amicus curiae briefs in 1998, there has been extensive debate over this issue for 20 years. One of the chief criticisms from Member states of this decision is that allowing non-state actors to access the Dispute Settlement Mechanism would undermine the “Member-driven” nature of the WTO. Notwithstanding such criticisms, the AB has weathered the storms and continually affirmed the power of the WTO adjudicatory bodies to accept amicus briefs. Ironically, despite this steadfast position, they have displayed great reluctance to actually utilise amicus briefs. This seems to be an uneasy compromise to avoid potential political costs in reaction to the explicit protests from Members. Contrary to commentators that commend the AB for its management of the status quo, this paper argues against this uneasy compromise.

Recognising the duty to cooperate in international commercial contracts

The duty of contracting parties to cooperate in the performance of commercial contracts is at once both intuitive, and utterly foreign. On the one hand, all commercial relationships require a degree of trust, and a party may reasonably expect that the other is committed to working together to carry out their bargain. This applies a fortiori in international commerce, where distance and unfamiliarity between parties make it necessary to trust the other to uphold their contractual promises. Yet, it may be argued that such expectations are unrealistic since all of commerce is motivated by self-interest. Despite this tension, it will be argued that the duty to cooperate is fundamental to international commercial contracts. This arises from the inherent nature of such contractual relationships, and is reflected in the increasing recognition of this duty in national legislation and transnational principles.

The Impact of TFL Management v Lloyds Bank and Relfo v Varsani on Requirements of Enrichment and “At the Claimant’s Expense”

Under the Battersea framework, it has been accepted that the claimant must establish that there is a connection or nexus between the (a) receipt of an enrichment by the defendant and (b) the claimant’s loss, so as to justify the unjust enrichment claim against the defendant. However, the question of whether the defendant has been enriched or  the enrichment was at the claimant’s expense, is complicated, especially where it appears the enrichment was no more than an incidental benefit, or the defendant has received the enrichment only indirectly from the claimant.

Possibility of Establishing a Fact-Finding Commission for the Rohingya Crisis

While the recent attacks against the Rohingya (“Rohingya Crisis”) were most certainly conducted by the Myanmar Army, the Government (“Government”) – under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi (“Aung”) – has dismissed the Rohingya as Bengali illegals, deemed the crisis as self-inflicted, and characterised media coverage as an “iceberg of misinformation”. When the truth of events is called into question before the more difficult question of liability is engaged, it becomes, in the authors' opinion, even more pressing for a comprehensive account of the conflict to be produced. This is not only for loftier reconciliation efforts but to achieve consensus on themes like dignity and the need to eschew violence.

The missing “custom” in the customary international law: Understanding the undue restriction of states’ influence in the creation and crystallisation of law of state responsibility

The law of state responsibility occupies a key position in international law. It is not concerned with primary obligations, but is a body of general secondary rules governing 1) when a state is considered to have breached one of its international obligations, 2) the consequences flowing from the breach, 3) the locus standi of injured parties, and 4) the form of remedy sought. However the absence of primary obligations means that the developing the law of state responsibility as a set of customary international law (“CIL”) rules is extremely complicated, since states are free to determine their own specific secondary rules in their treaties.

Reservations about the Value of Reserved Elections

At a press conference on 9 August 1965, moments after Singapore gained independence, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew proclaimed, “This is not a Malay nation; this is not a Chinese nation; this is not an Indian nation. Everybody will have his place.” This statement set the stage for Singapore’s development as a multiracial country. With the introduction of the reserved election mechanism under Article 19B of the Constitution, the question that arises is whether this mechanism, a “hiatus-triggered model” that encourages diversity in the office of the President, truly furthers multiracialism in Singapore.