Attorney Detail Banner
Back to Attorneys
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 hotel management.  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”, “a skillful lawyer, attentive to her clients’ needs and a sharp-eyed analyst”, having “great knowledge and experience in arbitration.” 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 arbitrationwith one source saying that she “always obtains the best possible results for clients” and another adding she is "a remarkable strategist, in addition to being an exceptional lawyer. She has had our full confidence for years."

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 and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)’s Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment.

She is French and Canadian, and is qualified as a Paris Avocat. Isabelle has written and spoken widely on arbitration issues. She is teaching on Advocacy in International Arbitration at the Law School of Sciences Po in Paris and at the Queen Mary University of London. She is on the Executive Committee of the Swiss-based Foundation for International Arbitration Advocacy (FIAA). Isabelle is also a Member of the Executive Committee of the Swedish Arbitration Association (SAA) and a Member of the Board of 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, in particular following the conflict.
  • Represented a foreign investor in ICSID arbitration against Hungary over treaty claims in connection with the state’s take-over of the prepaid meal and services vouchers sector under the France-Hungary BIT.
  • 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 national renewable energy programme (ICC arbitration, seat in Geneva, local 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 court proceedings before local courts 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).
  • University of Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne)
    • (post graduate in Private International Law and International Commercial Law) 
  • The Bar of Paris
  • Solicitor, England & Wales (qualified but non-practising)
  • French
  • English
  • Herbert Smith Freehills: 
    • Partner, 1998-2016
  • 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) 2009-2023
  • Named in Best Lawyers in France (Arbitration and Mediation) 2009-2023
  • 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) 2019-2023
  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal: Worldwide Thought Leaders (International Arbitration) 2017- 2022 
  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal (International Arbitration) 2009-2023 
  • Named to Chambers Europe-Wide (International Arbitration) 2019-2022
  • Named to Legal 500 EMEA (International Arbitration) 2010-2022
  • Named to Chambers Global (International Arbitration-France) 2010-2022
  • Named Law360 MVP in International Arbitration, 2019

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
  • Visiting Lecturer, London Queen Mary Universit
  • 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)
  • 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