Abby Cohen Smutny

Partner, Washington, DC


The “exceptional” and “brilliant” (Legal 500) Abby Cohen Smutny is “talented, smart and caring … everything one could want in a lawyer” (Chambers USA). She “stands out for her international public law expertise” (Chambers Global) and her “excellent advocacy skills and reliable judgment on the strategic issues” (Chambers Public International Law).


Abby Cohen Smutny is Global Head of White & Case's International Arbitration Practice.

Ms. Smutny has been repeatedly ranked as a Band 1 practitioner by Chambers Global, Chambers USA, and other major leading directories.

She has been described in Chambers as "fantastic," and as "a phenomenal lawyer, without doubt," and as "a major force in treaty arbitrations… smart, practical and... both aggressive and diplomatic." Chambers also has observed that she is "renowned for her 'thorough and technical' preparation, as well as her 'vigorous and energetic' advocacy", stating "you can't go to a better practitioner, especially on cutting-edge cases."

Global Arbitration Review has quoted clients who describe her as "a motivational powerhouse" whose "determination and motivation to succeed was a critical factor in our success."

The International Who's Who of Commercial Arbitration noted her "virtually unrivalled knowledge of state responsibility and investment treaty protection."

The Legal 500 has described her as an "exceptional counsel who impresses with reliable strategic judgment and excellent advocacy skills," and as a "powerhouse … the best."

Ms. Smutny's experience includes working with clients in a wide range of industries including banking, financial services, oil & gas, mining, electric power, real estate development, water supply, retail, pharmaceuticals, construction, tobacco, railroads, telecommunications and manufacturing.

She has significant experience managing claims arising out of project financing, privatizations, natural resource concessions, contracts with States and state-entities and political risk insurance.

She represents clients in arbitrations before all major arbitral forums including ICSID, the ICC, the Vienna International Arbitral Centre, the LCIA, the ICDR, and the SCC, as well as in ad hoc arbitrations, such as those under the UNCITRAL Rules. She serves as counsel in commercial disputes as well as in cases arising under bilateral investment treaties (BITs), the Energy Charter Treaty, the NAFTA, the DR-CAFTA and the ASEAN treaty.

Bars and Courts
New York State Bar
District of Columbia Bar
US District Court for the District of Columbia
University of Chicago Law School
Vassar College
Université des Langues et Lettres de Grenoble
London School of Economics and Political Science
General Course
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Group of cryptocurrency traders
Representation of a group of traders in an HKIAC arbitration regarding the performance and operation of a cryptocurrency exchange.

Mining company Gabriel Resources Ltd. investment treaty arbitration
Representing Gabriel Resources Ltd. In an ICSID arbitration of investment treaty claims against Romania relating to one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world.

ICL in investment treaty arbitration relating to potash mine project
Representing ICL Europe in an UNCITRAL Rules arbitration of investment treaty claims against Ethiopia relating to treatment of investment in potash mine project.

Mining company Gold Reserve Inc. investment treaty arbitration
Representing Gold Reserve Inc. in an ICSID (Additional Facility) arbitration under the Canadian-Venezuelan BIT, relating to one of the largest undeveloped gold/copper deposits in the world, in which Gold Reserve was awarded US$740 million.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in two ICSID arbitrations arising under investment treaties
Representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in two ICSID arbitrations, one arising out of a construction project and the other arising out of a dispute involving luxury retail stores.

European State in an ICC arbitration of a telecommunications dispute
Representing a European State in an arbitration of a dispute relating to the purchase price of a telecommunications company, in which the State was awarded over US$100 million.

Consortium of investors in tariff dispute relating to water concession
Representation of a consortium of investors in an arbitration relating to the economic terms of water concession before the Vienna International Arbitral Centre (VIAC), in which our clients were awarded more than US$100 million.

Kingdom of Jordan in oil production sharing agreement dispute
Representing the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in an ICSID arbitration with Trans-Global Petroleum Inc. under the US-Jordan BIT defending against claims of US$1 billion relating to an oil production sharing agreement in which all claims were released in their entirety in a favorable consent award.

Leading bank Ceskoslovenská obchodní banka, a. s. in ICSID arbitration
Representing one of the leading banks in the Czech Republic in an ICSID arbitration of a dispute with the Slovak Republic, in which the bank was awarded US$877 million.

Republic of Bulgaria in three Energy Charter Treaty ICSID arbitrations relating to distribution and supply of electric power
Representing Republic of Bulgaria in three ICSID arbitrations arising under the Energy Charter Treaty and bilateral investment treaties regarding disputes in the generation, distribution, and supply of electric power.

Republic of Bulgaria in ICSID arbitration relating to oil refinery
Representing Republic of Bulgaria in an ICSID arbitration with Plama Consortium Ltd., of a dispute arising under the Energy Charter Treaty and the Cyprus- Bulgaria BIT, involving the operation of an oil refinery. The investor's claims were dismissed in their entirety and our client obtained a sizable cost award.

Romania in three ICSID arbitrations relating to the privatization of a steel mill, airport duty free concessions, and the privatization of chemical facilities
Representing Romania in an ICSID arbitrations brought by Nobel Ventures, EDF (Services) Ltd., and S&T Oil under various BITs, relating to concessions and privatization agreements. In the first two cases the investor's claims were dismissed in their entirety, and in the third case the investor abandoned its claims prior to the hearing.

Republic of the Philippines in airport concession dispute
Representing the Republic of the Philippines in two ICSID arbitrations with Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide of a dispute arising under the German- Philippines BIT relating to a concession to construct and operate an airport terminal in Manila. The investor's claims were dismissed in their entirety in both cases.

US oil company in dispute relating to concession contract and production sharing agreement
Representing a US company in an ICC arbitration of dispute with a North African State and its national oil company relating to concession contract and production sharing agreement.

European State in dispute relating to power purchase agreement
Representing a European State in an ICSID arbitration of an Energy Charter Treaty dispute arising out of power purchase agreement.

US financial institution in dispute regarding tax treatment
Representing US financial institution in ICSID arbitration of dispute with North African State regarding tax treatment.

US manufacturer in ICC dispute with Middle Eastern State
Representing US manufacturer in ICC arbitration of dispute regarding contractual performance and payments due.

US power company in ICSID arbitration with Turkey
Representation of US power company in investment treaty dispute regarding the development of coal-fired power plant.

Republic of Costa Rica in ICSID arbitration arising from expropriation
Representing the Republic of Costa Rica in an ICSID arbitration with Compañia Desarrollo de Santa Elena S.A. of dispute regarding the compensation due following the expropriation of real property for purposes of environmental conservation.

Canadian real estate developer in NAFTA dispute
Representing Mondev International Ltd. in a NAFTA dispute against the United States arising out of an investment in a commercial real estate development.

European State in real estate development dispute
Representing a European State in an UNCITRAL rules arbitration regarding an investment in commercial real estate development

Republic of Chile in real estate development dispute
Representing the Republic of Chile in ICSID arbitration of dispute with MTD Equity and MTD Chile S.A. arising out of an investment in a commercial real estate venture.


Practical Guide to International Arbitration, Smutny, McDougall, and Daly, Juris (2020)

Enforcement of ICSID Convention Arbitral Awards in U.S. Courts, Vol. 43 Pepperdine Law Review 649, 2016, (co-authored with Anne Smith and McCoy Pitt)

Practicing Virtue: Inside International Arbitration, Oxford University Press, 2015

Compensation Due in the Event of an Unlawful Expropriation: The "Simple Scheme" Presented by Chorzow Factory and its Relevance to Investment Treaty Disputes, Practicing Virtue, Oxford University Press, 2015

Arbitral Institutions, International Financial Disputes, Oxford University Press, 2015, (co-authored with Petr Polášek)

Investment Treaty Protections, Political Risk, and Tribunal Decision-Making, Contemporary Issues in International Arbitration and Mediation: The Fordham Papers 2013, Brill (2014)

Unlawful or Bad Faith Conduct as a Bar to Claims in Investment Arbitration, A Liber Amicorum: Thomas Wälde – Law Beyond Conventional Thought, (Cameron May 2009) (co-author with Petr Polášek).

The MFN Clause: What are its Limits, in Arbitration under International Investment Agreements: A Guide to the Key Issues, 2d ed. (Oxford University Press 2018) (co-author, with Petr Polášek and Chad Farrell)

The Use of Experts in Investment Treaty Arbitration, Les Experts:Auxiliaires ou Substituts de Juge? Centre Français de Droit Comparé, 2009, (co-authored with Daniel R. Gilbert)

Claims of Shareholders in International Investment Law, International Investment Law, Liber Amicorum Christopher Schreuer, (Oxford University Press 2009)

Confidentiality in Relation to States, ICC International Court of Arbitration Bulletin (Special Supplement), (co-authored with Kristen Young)

Awards and Recognition

International Arbitration - Band 1, Chambers USA 2022

Hall of Fame, United States - International Arbitration, Legal 500, 2022

International Arbitration, Band 1, Chambers Global, 2022

Public International Law, Band 2, Chambers Global, 2021

International Arbitration, Band 1, Chambers USA, 2022

International Arbitration Leading Lawyer "Hall of Fame", The Legal 500 USA, 2020

The Best Lawyers in America, "Lawyer of the Year" for International Arbitration, 2022

Benchmark Litigation: National Practice Area Star, Local Litigation Star, Top 250 Women in Litigation, 2021

Lawdragon 500 Global Litigation, 2022

Who's Who Legal: Thought Leaders - Arbitration, Global Arbitration Review, 2022

Euromoney's Expert Guide to the Leading US Lawyers – Best of the Best USA, 2022; Commercial Arbitration, 2022; Women in Business Law, 2022