Public International Law

Public international law is increasingly relevant to international commercial transactions. States are more involved than ever before as actors in commercial and investment transactions. Multilateral and bilateral treaties offer private parties the opportunity to arbitrate disputes that arise between foreign investors and States.

SR Shackleton LLP provides expert advice in disputes that involve public international law norms, in particular, legal rights and obligations relevant to the relationships between sovereigns and private persons and companies. We advise on international conventions, bilateral and multilateral treaties, customary law, general principles of law recognised by civilised nations, State practice and judicial decisions and doctrine.

SR Shackleton LLP acts and advises in disputes and non-contentious matters in all areas of public international law, involving both commercial and international law imperatives.

We are routinely consulted by States, State agencies and entities, political subdivisions of States and private parties, as well as private companies and multi-nationals, on the impact of public international law on commercial transactions, including project finance, infrastructure projects, public concessions, energy projects and trade disputes. We are often instructed by local lawyers and law firms to advise and assist as counsel.


Stewart Shackleton who holds a DEA (“MA”) in Public International Law from the Université de Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne), has some 20 years of experience in the practice of public international law. He has advised and represented States and private parties in disputes and arbitrations involving international claims, State responsibility, State relations with intergovernmental organizations, State succession, international boundaries, foreign investment, trade regulations and State contracts. He has both acted for, and against, States, State entities, public international law organisations, diplomats and embassies. He has also acted as sole arbitrator and chair in arbitrations involving claims of expropriation brought against States.

Stewart has acted as counsel and arbitrator in State-investor disputes arising out of local investment protection laws, Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), the Energy Charter Treaty and national foreign investment laws in proceedings under the Arbitration Rules of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the ICC Rules, the LCIA Rules and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). He has represented States and State entities before the English courts for the enforcement or challenge of international arbitration awards and on questions of sovereign immunity.

Stewart is a member of the ICC’s Task Force on arbitration with States and State Entities. He has also served as a delegate for Canada on the International Law Commission Subcommittee on international arbitration.

Services include

  • conduct of proceedings before all international tribunals and courts
  • bilateral and multilateral investment treaties
  • State responsibility
  • Energy Charter Treaty claims
  • expropriation of property and legal rights
  • foreign corrupt practices
  • human rights
  • sovereign debt
  • energy, oil and gas, mining and infrastructure projects
  • boundary disputes and resources
  • State succession
  • economic sanctions
  • oil concessions
  • treaty negotiations and drafting
  • choice of law, jurisdiction and enforcement proceedings
  • sovereign immunity and diplomatic privileges
  • international environmental law
  • international trade


The following is a representative list of assignments:

  • Representing a major Chinese company in disputes arising out of a construction contract with an Eastern European State entity
  • Representing a consortium of European investors in several ICSID and UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings in disputes arising out of the expropriation of public infrastructure projects in South America
  • Representing a European company against a Middle Eastern State in an ICC arbitration arising out of the construction of port and harbour facilities and involving State succession issues
  • Representing a Japanese company in an ICC arbitration against a Central Asian State-owned entity arising out of the construction of hydroelectric facilities
  • Representing a Middle Eastern company in disputes against a State entity arising out of a major construction oil and gas project in Qatar
  • Representing an African State entity in an arbitration arising out of mineral production and sales as well as related court proceedings in which attempts to involve the State were successfully resisted
  • Representing an English company in ICSID proceedings against arising out of the expropriation of a commodities production investment in South America
  • Representing a Swiss company in an investment dispute with an African State arising out of the forced renegotiation of a services contract
  • Representing an African mining company in an investment dispute arising out of the expropriation of a gold mine
  • Representing Lithuania in court proceedings, including before the Court of Appeal, in England arising out of the enforcement of an ICC arbitration award relative to an oil exploration concession
  • Representing an Argentine State entity in court proceedings on disputed jurisdiction and sovereign immunity
  • Representing Yemen in court proceedings arising out of the enforcement of an ad hoc arbitration award and issues of sovereign immunity
  • Representing a Gulf State software company in an arbitration against a public international organization
  • Representing a Middle East State company in an arbitration against a North African State entity arising out of a project finance agreement
  • Advising a specialised agency of the United Nations on contractual claims and arbitration
  • Representing a UK company in arbitration against three African State entities
  • Representing an Asian State in respect of expropriation claims brought against it by European contstruction contractors in respect of a number of public infrastructure projects
  • Advising a Gulf State on the drafting of its foreign investment law
  • Representing an Eastern European State in respect of claims brought against it arising out of the construction of road works
  • Representing a UK architect in disputes with an Asian State under a BIT concerning the recovery of fees from the government for a construction project and claims of denial of justice arising from local court refusals to enforce an arbitration award