Isabelle Van Damme practises international trade law, with a particular emphasis on WTO law, and European Union law.


Isabelle advises clients on WTO procedural and substantive law and represents governments in WTO dispute settlement proceedings.

Isabelle has represented WTO Members before WTO panels and the Appellate Body in dispute settlement proceedings involving export quotas and duties, accession protocols, export licensing, transit restrictions, administration and review of trade measures, general exceptions, minimum export pricing, discriminatory taxation and customs valuation.

Isabelle also assists clients on all aspects of the negotiation of trade and investment agreements.

Isabelle previously gained experience in the areas of WTO law and public international law as a Legal Liaison Officer at the United Nations Secretariat, Legal Affairs, Codification Division and as a Legal Intern at the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat.

EU Law

Isabelle has significant expertise in the area of EU law.

Isabelle previously worked as a référendaire in the chambers of Advocate General Sharpston at the Court of Justice of the European Union, where she assisted with the drafting of opinions on a variety of issues, including external relations, common commercial policy, free movement of capital, intellectual property, import licensing, EU citizenship, freedom of movement of workers, consumer protection, life assurance, agricultural aid, fisheries, visa and asylum, access to information, protection of the environment, product labelling, terrorism and money-laundering suppression, protection of personal data and public international law.

Isabelle advises on various aspects of data protection, EU institutional law and EU external relations.


Dutch, English, French, Spanish


  • Legal 500 for WTO: Switzerland


  • University of Cambridge, Ph.D in Law, 2007
  • Georgetown University, Certificate in WTO Law, 2003
  • Georgetown University, LL.M., distinction and Dean’s Certificate, 2003
  • Georgetown University, Diploma in American Law and Legal Education, 2002
  • University of Ghent, Master of Laws, magna cum laude, 2002
  • University of Ghent, Bachelor of Law, magna cum laude, 1999


‘Treaty Interpretation’ in S. Lester and B. Mercurio (eds), Research Handbook on WTO Dispute Settlement, Edward Elgar, forthcoming.

‘Procedural review in WTO law’ in J. Gerards and E. Brems (eds), Procedural review in European fundamental rights cases, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

‘The Appellate Body’s Use of the Articles on State Responsibility in US – Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties (China)’ in C. Chinkin and F. Baetens (eds), Sovereignty, Statehood and State Responsibility: Essays in Honour of James Crawford, Cambridge University Press, 2015.

‘Case C-414/11 Daiichi: The Impact of the Lisbon Treaty on the Competence of the European Union over the TRIPS Agreement’ 4(1) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law (2015) 73-87.

“Treaty Interpretation by the WTO Appellate Body”, Oxford University Press, 2009.

“The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law”, Oxford University Press, 2009 (co-edited with D. Bethlehem, D. McRae and R. Neufeld).

Isabelle Van Damme has published widely in the area of international law.

Teaching Positions

Isabelle Van Damme is a visiting lecturer at the University of Leuven. She previously was a lecturer and the Turpin Lipstein Fellow at the University of Cambridge, Clare College. She has also taught at the World Trade Institute.

Bar Admissions


Publications and insights

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    • 15/05/2019
    • News

    Isabelle Van Damme is quoted by Law360 on the impact of Opinion 1/17 on the European Commission’s negotiating position in UNCITRAL

    Isabelle was quoted this week in an article published in Law360 on the Court of Justice of the European Union’s Opinion 1/17 regarding CETA. The article, entitled “EU Investor Court Greenlighted, But May Face Rough Road”, discusses the implications of this opinion on the ongoing negotiations in UNCITRAL aimed at reforming investor-State arbitration mechanisms. In her remarks, Isabelle reflected on the impact of Opinion 1/17 on the European Commission’s negotiating position in those UNCITRAL talks as well as in bilateral negotiations.

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    • 14/05/2019
    • News

    Van Bael & Bellis hosts CEPANI40 seminar on investment arbitration and EU law

    On 8 May 2019, Van Bael & Bellis hosted a CEPANI40 seminar during which experts in EU and arbitration law discussed the intricacies of the relationship between investment arbitration and EU law. CEPANI40 is an organization founded by CEPANI, the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation, specifically aimed at young professionals with an interest in arbitration. The introductory keynote speech was delivered by Melchior Wathelet, formerly the First Advocate General and Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Union. Following this keynote speech, Van Bael & Bellis counsel Isabelle Van Damme then moderated a panel composed of Mrs Emily Hay (Hanotiau & van den Berg) and Mr. Tim Rusche (European Commission) which discussed the aftermath of the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Achmea. Van Bael & Bellis associate Quentin Declève then moderated a second panel composed of Mr. Colin Brown (European Commission) and Mrs Carinne Pochet (Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) which discussed Opinion 1/17 on the compatibility with EU law of the investment Court System contained in CETA. That panel also discussed the implications of Opinion 1/17 on the current reform of investor-State dispute settlement which is currently being negotiated at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. Pictures of the event can be consulted here.

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    • 07/05/2019
    • Articles

    CJEU rules that CETA ISDS mechanism is compatible with EU law

    On 30 April 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided in Opinion 1/17 that the chapter on investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada, of one part, and the European Union and its Member States, of the other part (CETA) is compatible with EU primary law. On 29 January 2019, Advocate General Bot had already reached the same conclusion (for an analysis, see here). Opinion 1/17 removes a significant obstacle to the ratification of CETA by the EU Member States and the ratification of investment protection agreements with, for example, Singapore and Vietnam, which contain similar chapters on ISDS. The Opinion also significantly boosts the European Union negotiating position in the ongoing United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) negotiations on ISDS reform. At the same time, the Opinion might, to some extent, tie the hands of the European Union in negotiating in that forum.

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