Overview

Isabelle Van Damme specialises in international trade law (WTO and preferential trade agreements) and EU law. Her practice also covers all aspects of public international law. She represents governments and individuals before various international courts and tribunals.

International trade law (WTO and preferential trade agreements)

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, inter alia, export quotas and duties, accession protocols, export licensing, technical barriers to trade, transit restrictions, administration and review of trade measures, general exceptions and the security exception, minimum export pricing, discriminatory taxation and customs valuation.

Isabelle advises governments and corporations on all aspects of the negotiation and implementation of preferential trade agreements and investment agreements. Her work on dispute settlement under preferential trade agreements includes designing a system of judicial remedies and advising a government in one of the first disputes arising under an EU preferential trade agreement.Isabelle previously gained experience in the area of WTO law as an associate at a Geneva-based law firm. She has also worked as a Legal Intern at the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat.

She is currently lecturing on WTO Jurisprudence and Legal Advocacy at the Academy of International Economic Law and Policy (Greece). She has also taught WTO law at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) and the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) (Belgium). At the end of 2020, Isabelle was elected Executive Vice-President of the Society of International Economic Law.
 

EU Law 

Isabelle has significant expertise in the area of EU law.

Her experience of acting or advising as counsel in cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union includes cases relating to Brexit, staff regulations, sanctions, EU tobacco legislation, State aid, the retroactive application of trade remedies and cases involving the relevance under EU law of the status of disputed territories under international law. She advises also on EU customs law, data protection and government procurement.

Isabelle helps governments and industry with all matters relating to Brexit. She has appeared as an expert witness before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, speaking on Brexit and agriculture, and before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, answering questions on the implications of the EU Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop for Northern Ireland.

Isabelle previously worked as a référendaire in the chambers of Advocate General Sharpston at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
 

Public international law

Isabelle regularly advises on a wide range of public international law matters, including the territorial scope of application of treaties, treaty obligations, human rights, investment and sanctions. She also advises on all matters relating to international dispute settlement and the negotiation of international agreements. Furthermore, she assists clients with matters involving the interpretation and enforcement of UN, EU and national sanctions.

Isabelle has acted or advised as counsel in cases before the WTO and the Court of Justice of the European Union relating to the right of self-determination, the principle of sovereignty over natural resources and the protection of essential security interests. She has also advised in cases before the European Court of Human Rights.

Isabelle previously gained valuable experience in public international law as a Legal Liaison Officer at the United Nations Secretariat, Legal Affairs, Codification Division.

She has taught public international law at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), the World Trade Institute/University of Bern (Switzerland), and the University of Leuven (KUL) (Belgium).

Languages

Dutch, English, French, Spanish

Recommendations

  • Legal 500 for WTO: Switzerland

Education

  • 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

Publications

Isabelle has published widely in the areas of EU and international trade law and some examples are listed below.

Monographs and edited books 

The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law, second edition (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) (co-edited with D. Bethlehem, D. McRae and R. Neufeld).

Commentary on the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) (co-authored with P. De Baere and C. du Parc).

Treaty Interpretation by the WTO Appellate Body (Oxford University Press, 2009) (reviewed at 22(2) European Journal of International Law (2011) 571-588).

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

Chapters in books 

‘Investment arbitration under intra-EU BITs’ in N. Lavranos and J.R. Mata Dona (eds), International Arbitration and EU Law (Edward Elgar, forthcoming) (with Quentin Declève).

‘Technical Barriers to Trade’ in M. Hahn and G. Van der Loo (eds), Law and Practice of the Common Commercial Policy (Brill/Nijhoff, forthcoming).

‘Facultative mixity and the European Union’s trade and investment agreements’ in I. Govaere and M. Chamon (eds), Facultative Mixity (Brill/forthcoming) (with Gesa Kübek).

‘Technical Barriers to Trade’ in M. Hahn and G. Van der Loo (eds), Law and Practice of the Common Commercial Policy (Brill/Nijhoff, forthcoming).

 ‘Preliminary rulings’ in J. Huerta-Goldman and M. Molina-Tejeda (eds), Practical Aspects of WTO Litigation (Kluwer Law International, forthcoming).

‘Understanding the choice for evolutionary interpretation’ in G. Abi-Saab, G. Marceau and C. Marquet (eds), Evolutionary Interpretation and International Law (Hart, 2019).

‘Trade’ in M. Bowman and D. Kritsiotis (eds), Conceptual and Contextual Perspectives on the Modern Law of Treaties (Cambridge University Press, 2018) (with Joost Pauwelyn).

‘Treaties and Treaty Interpretation in International Economic Law’ in T. Cottier and K. Nadakavukaren Schefer (eds), Encyclopedia of International Economic Law (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017).

‘Procedural review in WTO law’ in J. Gerards and E. Brems (eds), Procedural review in European fundamental rights cases (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

‘Good Faith in Treaty Interpretation’ in A. Mitchell, M. Sornarajah and T. Voon (eds), Good Faith in International Investment Law (Oxford University Press, 2015) (with Eric De Brabandere).

‘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).

‘Jurisdiction, Applicable Law and Interpretation’ in D. Bethlehem, D. McRae, R. Neufeld, and I. Van Damme (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law (Oxford University Press, 2009).
 

Articles 

‘De rechtspraak van het hof van justitie over investeringsarbitrage onder intra-EU en extra-EU investeringsverdragen’ SEW (forthcoming) (with Quentin Declève).

‘Expired measures, excess duty drawbacks and causation: the Appellate Body report in EU – PET (Pakistan)’ 19(2) World Trade Review (2020) 232-248 (with Arevik Gnutzmann-Mkrtchyan)

‘Reflections on the WTO Negotiations on Prohibiting IUU Fishing Subsidies’ GSI Policy Brief, International Institute for Sustainable Development (February 2020).

‘The Assessment of expert evidence in international adjudication’, 9(3) Journal of International Dispute Settlement (2018) 401-410.

‘Achmea: potential consequences for CETA, the Multilateral Investment Court, Brexit and other EU trade and investment agreements’, International Litigation Blog (March 2018) (with Quentin Declève).

‘The Judicial Trilemma: a response by Isabelle Van Damme’, 111 American Journal of International Law Unbound (2017) 359-363.

‘Professor John H. Jackson and the normative challenges of the WTO’, 19(2) Journal of International Economic Law (2016) 343-346.

‘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.

‘A practical perspective on treaty interpretation: the Court of Justice of the European Union and the WTO dispute settlement system’, 3(2) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law (2014) 489-507 (with Andreas Sennekamp).

‘Co-Adaptation in the International Legal Order: the EU and the WTO’, Proceedings of the Bi-Annual Meeting of the European Society of International Law (2011) 311-325 (with Geert De Baere).

‘On ‘Good Faith Use of Dictionary in the Search of Ordinary Meaning under the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding’ – A Reply to Professor Chang-Fa Lo’, 2(1) Journal of International Dispute Settlement (2011) 231-239.

‘Treaty Interpretation by the WTO Appellate Body’, 21(3) European Journal of International Law (2010) 605-648.

‘Inherent Powers of and for the WTO Appellate Body’, Centre for Trade and Economic Integration Working Paper, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva) (August 2008)

‘The Non-Politics of Interpreting Silences in the WTO Covered Agreements’, 102 ASIL Proceedings (2008) 420-424.

 ‘Some Observations about the ILC Study Group Report on the Fragmentation of International Law: WTO Treaty Interpretation Against the Background of Other International Law’, XVII Finnish Yearbook of International Law (2006) 47-65.

‘The Interpretation of Schedules of Commitments’, 41(1) Journal of World Trade (2007) 1-54.

Teaching Positions

Isabelle Van Damme regularly lectures on trade law and EU external relations law. She is currently teaching at the Academy of International Economic Law and Policy. 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, the University of Leuven (KUL) and the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL).

Bar Admissions

Brussels

Publications and insights

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    • 09/09/2021
    • Articles

    Case C-741/19: The CJEU decides that intra-EU ECT arbitration is incompatible with EU law and interprets the definition of “investment” in the ECT

    On 2 September 2021, in its judgment in Case C-741/19, Republic of Moldova v. Komstroy LLC, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) decided that intra-EU arbitration under the Energy Charter Treaty (“ECT”) is incompatible with EU law. It also gave a restrictive interpretation to the definition of “investment” in the ECT.

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    • 29/06/2021
    • News

    Isabelle Van Damme speaks on “The Brussels effect as a model of regulatory design” at the Institute for European Law at KU Leuven

    On 25 June 2021, Van Bael & Bellis partner Isabelle Van Damme spoke at the closing event of the academic year entitled “The Brussels effect and Brexit” organized by the Institute for European law at KU Leuven. The topic of Isabelle’s presentation was “The Brussels effect as a model of regulatory design”. Isabelle looked at the promotion of the EU’s internal and external interests which is increasingly driven by the regulation of global externalities: the so-called Brussels effect seen as a model of regulatory design rather than market-driven, visible in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The other speaker was Prof. Anu Bradford, Columbia Law School, who opened the event and spoke on the topic of “The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World”. Further information on the event is available here.

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    • 15/06/2021
    • News

    Van Bael & Bellis signs the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge

    On 14 June, Van Bael & Bellis signed the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge. The Arbitration Pledge brings together arbitration counsel, arbitrators, corporations, states as well as arbitral institutions and academics who want to improve the profile and representation of women in International Arbitration. Nick Lawn, Head of VBB’s International Arbitration practice said, “The overall objective of the Arbitration Pledge is to achieve fair representation of women in the arbitration community. As well as seeking to improve the profile and representation of women in arbitration more generally, the Arbitration Pledge encourages the appointment of women as arbitrators on an equal opportunity basis”. Isabelle Van Damme, Partner commented, “VBB’s strong support of this initiative is part of the Firm’s overall commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive working environment in all of its offices”.

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