Law’s methods continue to be preoccupied with protecting property and contract at both national and international levels via constitutional forms. To this end, capital-exporting states have been cementing their influence via new legal regimes, like international investment law. What is left unexplored is the extent to which new legal regimes have continuity with those in the past. To this end, the paper conjoins the notion of empire with the spatial relationship of core and periphery. Investment law constrains political capacity in the periphery as did imperial constitutional rule via informal means. Contemporary rule, however, is conducted in a more formal manner with the effect of making metropolitan interests appear to be separate from legal outcomes. By interrogating investment law through the lens of empire, the paper aims reconnecting law to politics in an age when constitutional formalities continue to proliferate.