In May 2007, an arbitrator not far from Singapore had to resolve a dispute between a salvage company and the government of Malaysia. The company had entered into a contract to salvage a cargo of Chinese porcelain from a British ship that had sunk in the Straits of Malacca in 1817. The dispute turned on the amount payable to the salvage company under the terms of that contract. One might have thought that this was an everyday dispute that would be settled by a summary proceeding in a local court for the recovery of debt. It became an international investment dispute, however, alleged to be an international wrong as a breach of a treaty between the governments of the United Kingdom and Malaysia, and settled by an arbitration established under yet another international treaty.
Mary E. Hiscock, The Emerging Legal Concept of Investment, 27 Penn St. Int'l L. Rev. 765 (2009).