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Michou, Isabelle
Direct Tel: +33 1 7344 6006
Tel: +33 1 73 44 60 00 Fax: +33 1 73 44 61 00

Isabelle Michou’s practice focuses on international arbitration and international law.  She acts for both corporations and States and has developed substantial expertise in a range of industries, including in the energy sector, mining, aerospace, telecoms, large-scale infrastructure projects and hospitality.  She has appeared before numerous high-profile arbitral tribunals, under the auspices of the major institutional rules including ICC, ICSID, LCIA, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, as well as ad hoc arbitrations under the UNCITRAL Rules.

She was selected as a 2019 Law360 MVP in the category of International Arbitration and won the Global Arbitration Review’s Award of the “2018 Most Important Decision” for her victory in the ICSID arbitration in Up and CD Holding Internationale v. Hungary.

Leading directories report that “[t]he "exceptional" Isabelle Michou ranks as one of the go-to international arbitration experts in the market thanks to her insightful and skilful handling of cases.” Isabelle is “one of the finest advocates and legal scholars working in international arbitration today”. She is consistently top-ranked “in acknowledgement of her strong expertise in arbitrations arising in Europe and Africa, as well as consistent praise from clients. She is experienced in public international law as well as international arbitration”.  Clients report she is "a remarkable strategist, in addition to being an exceptional lawyer. She has had our full confidence for years", “she stands out for her strategic vision of the cases entrusted to her and knows how to deliver clear, pragmatic and effective advice”, others adding she is “a skillful lawyer, attentive to her clients’ needs and a sharp-eyed analyst” and “always obtains the best possible results for clients”.

Isabelle also appears in arbitration-related proceedings before the French courts, in cases involving issues of sovereign immunities, interlocutory, interim or conservatory relief, enforcement and challenges of arbitral awards.

She also sits regularly as an arbitrator herself under the ICC Arbitration Rules and other rules including SCC, LCIA, the Swiss Rules and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)’s Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

She is French and Canadian, and is admitted as a Paris Avocat and a Solicitor in England & Wales. Isabelle has written and spoken widely on international arbitration. She is teaching on Advocacy in International Arbitration at the Law School of Sciences Po in Paris. She is sitting on the Executive Committee of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration (ITA) and is also a Board Member of the Swedish Arbitration Association (SAA), the Finnish Arbitration Institute (FAI) and the Comité Français d’Arbitrage (CFA).

  • Represented a leading oil and gas companies in a PCA arbitration under the UNCITRAL rules against Ukraine for treaty claims under the UK-Ukraine BIT as a result of changes in laws on oil and gas rental fees and capital movement restrictions imposed by Ukraine (prior to War in Ukraine).
  • Represented a foreign investor in ICSID arbitration against Hungary over treaty claims under the France-Hungary BIT in connection with the state’s take-over of all of the investor's assets in the country.  Also represented successfully the client in subsequent annulment proceedings initiated by Hungary before the ICSID ad hoc committee. See here for more information.
  • Represented the Republic of Tunisia in ICSID arbitration against the foreign investor over multi-billion claims under the historic Tunisian Investment Code in connection with the privatization of the Banque Franco-Tunisienne and the investor’s shareholding in the bank. See here for more information. 
  • Representing a world leading information security company in a PCA arbitration under the UNCITRAL rules against Ghana for contract claims under English law as a result of changes in tax and customs laws, wrongful termination of contract and phasing out in favour a third party.
  • Represented leading operator in six parallel Emergency Arbitrations under two sets of rules (ICC and SCC), two different arbitration laws (UK and Swedish) and different substantive governing laws (English and Swedish) in relation to its assets located in Russia. See here for more information. 
  • Represented a North African national electricity company in a dispute with a German consortium over the construction of a photovoltaic plant as part of the country's national renewable energy programme and related dispute over the contractual guarantees (two ICC arbitrations, seat in Geneva, local law).
  • Representing leading global logistics group in multiple and parallel proceedings (LCIA arbitrations seated in London and court proceedings in Djibouti, France, London, Washington and Hong Kong) in relation to the Republic of Djibouti’s attempts to terminate all contractual arrangements (concession, joint venture agreement and services agreements) and transfer all rights to a third party.
  • Represented a leading telecoms group in a dispute over the termination of a share purchase agreement in connection with various assets in Senegal (ICC arbitration, seat in Paris, English law).
  • Represented an international management hotel chain against the owner of a hotel located in France arising out of a claim for damages for wrongful termination of a hotel international management agreement (ICC Arbitration, seat in Paris, French law).
  • Represented a major aero company in connection with a dispute over the renegotiation of a risk and revenue sharing agreement in relation to the design and production of engine components to be installed on airplanes (ICC Arbitration, seat in London, English law).
  • Represented a major client in the audit sector in relation to a dispute over issues arising out of the membership agreement and the expulsion of some member firms from the global network (ICC arbitration, English law, seat in London) and assisting client in related, parallel court proceedings before local courts in relevant country in Africa.
  • Represented two Portuguese companies in defending a claim for breach of representations and warranties under a SPA initiated by French and Moroccan purchasers relating to a water utility project in Morocco (ICC arbitration, French law, seat in Paris).
  • Represented a major oil and gas company in relation to a dispute with a North-African state-owned entity over a long term gas supply agreement (ICC arbitration, seat in Paris, Tunisian law together with international law and general principles applicable in the oil and gas industry).
  • Represented a leading oil and gas company in arbitration enforcement proceedings of PCA arbitral award against the Republic of India under the UK-India BIT, which led to successful settlement in favour of the client worth 1 billion USD (out of the 1.3 billion USD awarded under the arbitral award).
  • Represented foreign investors in defending against annulment proceedings initiated by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the latter’s attempt to seek to annul the PCA partial arbitral award by which the arbitral tribunal held it has jurisdiction over the treaty claims.
  • University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
    • (Post-graduate in Private International Law and International Commercial Law) 
  • The Bar of Paris
  • Solicitor, England & Wales (qualified but non-practicing)
  • French
  • English
  • Herbert Smith Freehills: 
    • Partner, 1998-2016
  • Named to Chambers Africa-wide (Dispute Resolution), since its launch up to 2024
  • Named to Chambers Global (International Arbitration-France) 2010-2024
  • Named to Chambers Europe-Wide (International Arbitration) 2019-2024
  • Named as Lawdragon 500 Leading Global Litigators Guide in International Arbitration 2023
  • Legal 500 EMEA: France-in Dispute Resolution: International Arbitration (Tier 1)- Leading Individual 2023-2024
  • Named as one of the leaders in Disputes in Africa by Chambers & Partners since its launch up to today
  • Named in Legal 500 Private Practice Powerlist: Africa specialists since its launch up to today
  • Listed by Jeune Afrique Business+ amongst the most influential business lawyers in Africa in 2021, 2022
  • One of the 100 Africa Business+ most influential lawyers worldwide since 2020 up to today
  • Named in Best Lawyers in France (International Arbitration) 2009-2025
  • Named in Best Lawyers in France (Arbitration and Mediation) 2009-2025
  • Named a ‘Global Leader’ in International Arbitration by Who's Who Legal, 2022
  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal among the ten "Most Highly Regarded" practitioners in France (International Arbitration) 2019-2024
  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal: Worldwide Thought Leaders (International Arbitration) 2017- 2024
  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal (International Arbitration) 2009-2024
  • Named to Legal 500 EMEA (International Arbitration) 2010-2024
  • Named Law360 MVP in International Arbitration, 2019 (for her victory in ICSID Case No. ARB/13/35 Up and CD Holding Internationale v. Hungary)

Isabelle has been involved deeply in publishing and lecturing in her field. The below is a selection of her accomplishments.

  • Lecturer, Sciences Po Law School
  • Speaking at the 2nd ITA Conference on International Arbitration in the Mining Sector, Toronto, Canada (March 2024)
  • Speaking at the “XV Miradas Cruzadas Franco-Española’s los en la encrucijada: Entre las exigencies de las partes, los tribunals nacionales y las instituciones arbitrales”, Paris (March 2024)
  • Speaking at the Annual Conference of leading Comité Français de l’Arbitrage on “The Legitimacy of International Arbitration”, Paris (December 2023)  
  • Speaking at the 35th ITA Annual Conference on “The Full Scope of Arbitral Tribunal’s Power to Award Relief”, Austin (June 2023)
  • Speaking, Colloquium of Paris Place of Arbitration on “A comparative view of the law applicable to the arbitration agreement in England and in France (the Kabab-Ji SAL v Kout Food Group case)”, Paris (February 2023)
  • Speaking, Opening Lecture, MIDS, "Interim measures: the critical impact they may have on international legal proceedings", Geneva (October 2022) 
  • Moderating, Swedish Arbitration Days on “Integrity in International Arbitration”, Stockholm (September 2022)
  • Speaking, Twin Keynote Addresses (with Toby Landau KC, Duxton Hill Chambers, Singapore) at 34th Annual ITA Workshop and Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas (June 2022), presenting respectively the civil law and the common law perspectives on Witness Evidence and the Overall Purpose of a Hearing
  • Article in Reflections on International Arbitration – Essays in Honour of Professor George Bermann, Chapter 81: Annulment of ICSID awards: A de Novo Review or Not for Jurisdictional Error?, Juris Publishing (June 2022)
  • Speaking, 6th ICC European Conference on International Arbitration, “Industries facing current short and long term disruptions: what does it mean for dispute resolution?” (focusing on mining) (March 2022)
  • Speaking, webinar on “Maximising Legal Protection for your Project in Africa” organized by the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group (AAMEG) (August 2021)
  • Speaking, online transnational workshop on “Arbitration and the European Rule of Law” conference, and focus on “The changing standard of independence and impartiality of arbitrators in the EU” (May 2021)
  • Speaking, webinar organized by the CEPANI and the AIA on “Double hatting: Do We Need a Vaccine? (May 2021)
  • Speaking, 3rd International Arbitration & Mediation conference, focusing on IBA rules on the Taking of Evidence (May 2021)
  • Speaking, conference organized by Club des Juristes, one of the leading French legal think tanks or the 10th anniversary of the French Decree on Arbitration Law, Paris (January 2021)
  • Speaking, Lexology webinar on “Key reforms and updates to LCIA, ICC and ICSID rules practical implications and considerations” (December 2020)
  • V Oxford Arbitration Day, webinar on “Failure to perform due to pandemics: force majeure, frustration, MAC/MAE, ordinary course of business clause”, November 2020
  • Speaker, Conference at the Comité français de droit international privé (CFDIP), Paris, January 2020, “Les conflits de normes en arbitrage d’investissement" and article to be published in Revue Critique de Droit International Privé (RCDIP)
  • Global Arbitration Review (GAR) Live on “Are new rules changing arbitration and is it time to revisit the arbitral proceedings?”, Paris, November 2019
  • 34th Annual ICC SIA QMC Joint Symposium of Arbitrators on “Opening Up” Awards in International Arbitration, Paris, February 2019
  • Comité Français d’Arbitrage (CFA)/Club Español del Arbitraje (CEA) Regards croisés franco-espagnols on "L’arbitrage d’investissement intra-UE après l'arrêt Achmea”/ X Miradas Cruzadas franco-españolas ¿Qué queda del arbitraje de inversión intra-europeo después de Achmea? , Madrid, February 2019
  • WIPO AMC-Young ICCA IP Arbitration Seminar on Investor-State arbitration involving IP issues, Geneva, January 2019
  • Conference on “L'arrêt Achmea : l'arbitrage en matière d'investissement rayé de l'Union européenne par la Cour de Luxembourg ?”, Université Assas, Paris, July 2018
  • 2nd ICC European Conference (the inaugurating conference of the 2018 Paris Arbitration Week), Paris, April 2018
  • Co-author of “Arbitration: The Achmea v Slovakia Judgment of the CJEU, is it really the end of Intra-EU Investment Treaties?, in Dalloz Actualités, March 2018
  • Dickson Poon School of Law, the Centre for International Commercial & Investment Arbitration at Columbia University and Three Crowns, annual "praelium" in London in May 2018 in honour of David Caron
  • Co-chairing GAR Live Paris (Global Arbitration Review) in November 2017
  • ICC Canada in Montreal in October 2017 on “New Developments in International Arbitration”
  • Co-Chairing Conference of the Arbitration Committee of the Paris Bar on "Third Party Funding: the recent resolution by the Paris Bar Council", Paris, April 2017
  • ASA Annual Conference in Geneva in February 2017 on “Shaping Arbitral Proceedings to best Examine Quantum in investor-state arbitration”
  • GAR Live Paris in November 2016
  • IBA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., September 2016 “Are the arbitrators under attack?”
  • The Swedish Arbitration Association, Swedish Arbitration Days, September 2016, on “Bringing extra-contractual claims in arbitration”
  • Colloquium: “How do arbitrators decide?” in Paris, May 2016, hosted by NYU and Sciences Po Law School
  • Paris Café des Arbitres: “Investment arbitration in the renewable energy sector”, France, November 2015
  • “La compétence du juge judiciaire en matière d’exequatur des sentences arbitrales administratives étrangères”, note sous Cass. 1st civ., 8 July 2015, Ryanair, Petites Affiches, 6 November 2015, n°222
  • GAR Live Paris Conference on the extension of the arbitration clause on non-signatories, Paris, France, November 2015 
  • IBA Annual Meeting on “Towards more effective fact-finding in arbitration”, Vienna, Austria, October 2015 
  • Africa Law Business, three interviews published online
  • Co-Chairing Conference of the Arbitration Committee of the Paris Bar on “The UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Investors-States arbitration”, Paris, France, June 2015
  • “Parallel proceedings in international arbitration” at the 30TH ICC SIA QMC Joint Symposium of Arbitrators, Paris, France, March 2015
  • Co-Chairing Conference of the Arbitration Committee of the Paris Bar on “Droit de l’arbitrage commercial international: regards croisés (français et américain) sur les travaux du Restatement of the Law », Paris, France, March 2015
  • Co-Chairing Conference of the Arbitration Committee of the Paris Bar on the “IBA Guidelines of 25 May 2013 on Party representation in international arbitration”, Paris, France, January 2014
  • Comité Français d’Arbitrage (CFA) and Club Español del Arbitrage (CEA) on Issues of Arbitrability under French law and Spanish law, Paris, France, November 2013
  • ICC Canada International Arbitration Conference on “A view ‘Inside the Tribunal’”, Toronto, Canada, October 2013
  • Co-chairing a conference on the “Swiss Rules”, International Arbitration Committee of the Paris Bar, Paris, France, July 2013
  • “Le financement des activités illicites,” in L’argent dans l’arbitrage 63 (W. Ben Hamida, T. Clay eds., Lextenso, 2013)
  • ICC France Conference on Enforcement of Arbitral Awards and more specifically “Comment les entreprises peuvent-elles surmonter les obstacles ?”, Paris, France, November 2012
  • ICC Canada Conference on “Case Management in Arbitration: Practical Tips and Cautionary Tales”, Montreal, Canada, October 2012
  • Contributor, “What’s New in European Arbitration?” Dispute Res. J. (2011-2014)
  • ICDR/Sciences Po Conference on “The Challenge of Proactivity: A Comparative Discussion of Techniques For Enhancing Procedural Efficiency In International Arbitration”, Paris, France, June 2012
  • IV Conferencia LatinoAmericana de Arbitraje, “Third Party Funding in International Arbitration: What are the Current Issues?”, Medellín, Colombia, June 2012
  • “Choice of institution in investment arbitration” at the ICC UK Conference on “Investment Treaty Arbitration: a ‘BIT’ of a problem?” London, UK, March 2012
  • Note on the Dallah case following CA Paris, 17 Feb. 2011, Governement du Pakistan, min. des Affaires religieuses v. Sté Dallah Real Estate and Tourism Holding Company, 2011(2) JDI 395
  • “Compensation of the Moral Injury in Investor-State Arbitration / L’indemnisation du préjudice moral dans l’arbitrage entre investisseurs et états,” 2011(1) Int’l. Bus. L.J. 41 / Rev. dr. aff. int.
  • “Articulation, en pratique, entre la clause de droit applicable et la clause relative à la compétence internationale (clause attributive de juridiction ou clause compromissoire),” in Le Règlement Communautaire Rome I et le Choix de Loi dans les Contrats Internationaux (Litec, 2011) (S. Corneloup and N. Joubert, eds.)
  • “An Inside Perspective: News and Updates from the ICC and IBA”, ICC/IBA Roundtable, Vancouver, Canada, October 2010
  • “All or Nothing - A Debate on the Production of Documents”, YAS-ICDR Young & International, Stockholm, Sweden, September 2010