Construing a Treaty against State Parties’ Expressed Intentions?: Sanum Investments Ltd v Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic  5 SLR 536
Mohan & Siraj Shaik Aziz
Published on e-First 2 March 2018
The Singapore Court of Appeal’s decision in Sanum Investments Ltd v Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic was a landmark one in several respects. A key aspect of this decision though may appear controversial at first blush – that is, the apex court placed less weight on the express views of state parties, even though Singapore itself was not a party to the relevant bilateral investment treaty (“BIT”). While doing so was admittedly “counter-intuitive”, the Court of Appeal did not set out to construe the BIT against the intentions of the contracting states. Rather, much turned on the critical date and nature of evidence adduced by, Laos to indicate the states’ purported intentions. Put another way, when joint intentions were first expressed was significant, as were the types of evidence relied upon to evince subsequent joint intentions. This note will suggest that the Court of Appeal was animated by a desire to clarify important points of public international law and curial procedure; points which are instructive to future investor–state cases arising from the International Arbitration Act.