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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    • 21/02/2019
    • News

    Isabelle Van Damme speaks on “The future of UK-EU Trade Relations” at the CEPS IdeasLab in Brussels

    On 21 February 2019, Van Bael & Bellis counsel Isabelle Van Damme spoke on “The future of UK-EU Trade Relations” at the CEPS IdeasLab conference, organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. Isabelle’s presentation focused on the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. The IdeasLab session in which Isabelle participated discussed the feasibility, scope and content of the envisaged economic partnership and provided new proposals for the future framework of EU-UK trade relations. The other speakers were Stefaan De Rynck, Senior Advisor of Michel Barnier, Chief EU Negotiator for Brexit, European Commission; Panos Koutrakos, Professor of EU Law and Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at City, University of London; and L. Alan Winters, Professor of Economics, University of Sussex. Further information about the conference is available here.

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    • 30/01/2019
    • Articles

    Opinion 1/17 on CETA: Advocate General Bot finds that the investment court system in CETA is compatible with EU law

    On 29 January 2019, Advocate General Bot delivered his long-awaited Opinion (the Opinion) on whether the investment court system (ICS) in Chapter Eight, Section F, of the European Union-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is compatible with European Union (EU) law, in particular with the autonomy of the EU legal order and fundamental rights. The next step in the proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), initiated by Belgium following complications in its ratification process, is for the CJEU to deliver its Opinion on the same question. This client alert discusses the key elements of the Opinion and the implications of these CJEU proceedings on the European Union’s common commercial policy and its policy of advocating reform of existing investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) and the establishment of a multilateral investment court (MIC).

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    • 24/01/2019
    • News

    Isabelle Van Damme gives testimony to the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee of the UK House of Commons

    On 23 January 2019, Van Bael & Bellis counsel Isabelle Van Damme appeared before the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee of the UK House of Commons in the context of that committee’s inquiry into “Implications of the EU Withdrawal Agreement and the Backstop for Northern Ireland”. During a public evidence session, Isabelle responded to questions of Members of Parliament on, inter alia, the implications of the Withdrawal Agreement and, in particular, the Protocol on Northern Ireland, the future trading relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom and the relevance of WTO law. Isabelle’s appearance before the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Commission was reported in the press, including in the Irish Times and the Guardian. Isabelle previously gave expert evidence to the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee of the UK House of Commons in the context of that committee’s inquiry into “Brexit: Trade in food” on 14 February 2017 and 18 October 2017. Further information on Isabelle’s testimony is available here. The scope of the inquiry of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee is available here. You can also watch the broadcast that was made of the session here.

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