Brendan McGivern | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
Brendan McGivern
Brendan McGivern

Brendan McGivern

Partner Of Counsel, Geneva

“He has a combined understanding of diplomatic and legal conditions,” according to clients, who regard him as a “true expert in the field with a mind like a razor.”

Chambers Global 2018


Brendan McGivern practices international trade law, particularly the law of the WTO. He also has an active practice in public international law, including the negotiation and implementation of environmental treaties.

McGivern advises companies, industry associations and sovereign governments on the full range of WTO rules. He represents WTO Member states in dispute settlement proceedings before panels and the Appellate Body. He counsels sovereign governments on the negotiation of bilateral and regional free trade agreements. He has extensive experience in international energy trade law issues.

McGivern served as a member of the WTO arbitration panel in the US – 1916 Anti-Dumping Act case, which adjudicated a request by the European Communities for retaliatory trade sanctions against the United States.

In February 2018, McGivern was appointed to the Roster of Panelists under Chapter 19 (anti-dumping and countervailing duty matters) of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Prior to joining White & Case, McGivern was the senior legal adviser and the head of the Dispute Settlement section at the Canadian Mission to the WTO in Geneva. He frequently presented arguments to WTO dispute settlement panels and the Appellate Body.

McGivern is a regular public commentator on WTO matters, as well as on Brexit. He has been interviewed on CNBC Television, Bloomberg Television, China Central Television and Radio France about WTO issues. He has also been quoted on WTO dispute settlement issues by numerous media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, CBS News, ABC News, CNBC, USA Today, Business Week, Forbes, Reuters, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Agence France-Presse and National Public Radio.

Bars and Courts

  • Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario)


  • LLB, University of British Columbia
  • MA, International Affairs, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa
  • BA, International Relations, University of British Columbia


  • English
  • French


Speaking Engagements

"WTO Agricultural Disputes", September 11, 2018: Presentation to the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Agricultural Trade Policy Network in Europe and Central Asia, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Odessa, Ukraine

"The SCM Agreement and Fisheries Subsidies", June 12, 2018: Presentation to WTO fisheries subsidies negotiators, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development symposium, World Trade Organization, Geneva.

"Africa and WTO Dispute Settlement", April 16, 2018: Presentation to the seminar on "Resolving International Trade and Investment Disputes", Africa International Legal Awareness (AILA), Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Accra, Ghana.

"The WTO and Dispute Settlement Mechanisms under Regional Trade Agreements", February 8, 2018: Presentation to "The Regional Trade Agreement Exchange Dialogue Series: RTA Dispute Settlement Provisions – Options for Effective Enforcement"; International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Geneva

"Key principles of WTO litigation", December 5, 2017: Presentation to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization National Training Workshop on Agricultural Trade Rules, Tbilisi, Georgia

"The Impact of International Trade Rules on Biofuels", October 19, 2017: Presentation to the Argus Biofuels 2017 Conference, London

"Brexit and WTO Rules: Options for the U.K.", September 1, 2017: Presentation to the High Level Advisory Group on Brexit, Financial Markets Law Committee, London

"Trump and Brexit: How the Changing Rules of International Trade will Affect Japanese Companies", August 25, 2017: Presentation to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ),

"The Paris Agreement on Climate Change and WTO Rules", August 18, 2017: Presentation to the Asian WTO Trade Forum 2017,

"Trump and Brexit: How the Changing Rules of International Trade will Affect Korean Companies", August 16, 2017: Presentation to the Korean In-House Counsel Forum,

"Alternatives to WTO Dispute Settlement", June 7, 2017: Presentation to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Workshop on Resolving Agricultural Trade Issues Through the WTO, Kiev

"Post-Brexit: How businesses based in the UK will trade with Europe and the world", May 26, 2017, London

"The WTO Appellate Body and the failure of "systemic integration": The Peru - Agricultural Products case", June 10, 2016: Presentation to the 16th Annual Conference on WTO Law, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, Geneva

"WTO Rules on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights: The Plain Packaging Dispute", May 19, 2016: Presentation to the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum, St Petersburg, Russia

"Reflections on the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism", May 4, 2016: Distinguished Guest Lecture Series, Centre for International Trade and Economic Law, New Delhi

"Issues in WTO Jurisprudence: the SCM Agreement and the 'Public Body' Debate", May 2, 2016: Presentation to the Conference on WTO Dispute Settlement, Indian Centre for WTO Studies, New Delhi

"The Revival of Export Controls and Trade Sanctions: The Russia-Ukraine Conflict and Beyond", May 7, 2015: Presentation to the 15th Annual British Institute of International and Comparative Law World Trade Organization Conference, London

"New WTO Agreements: Opportunities and Challenges", October 15, 2014: Presentation to the Japan Machinery Center for Trade and Investment (JMC), Tokyo

New WTO Agreements: Why they matter to Korean companies" and "Technical barriers to trade: How Korean companies can use WTO rules to challenge discriminatory regulations in foreign markets", October 13, 2014: Presentation to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), Seoul

"Data Management and Consumer Protection in a Globalized Economy: Opportunity or Threat?", October 2, 2014: WTO Public Forum, Geneva

"The 'Public Morals' Defense", June 23, 2014: Presentation to the Symposium on the EC – Seal Products Dispute, hosted by the Graduate Institute Centre for Trade and Economic Integration (CTEI), International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and WTI Advisors, Geneva

"WTO Regulatory Disciplines: Technical Regulations, Standards and Food Safety Rules", February 7, 2013: Presentation to the symposium on WTO Legal Mechanisms for Russian Business, Moscow

"Russian Compliance with WTO Obligations: A Fork in the Road?", Presentation to the US-Russia Business Council Annual Meeting, Atlanta

"Minding the Gap: Trade Negotiations and the WTO Dispute Settlement System", September 25, 2012: WTO Public Forum, Geneva, Discussion Facilitator

"The Appellate Body Ruling in US – Clove Cigarettes", May 17, 2012: Presentation to the Twelfth Annual WTO Conference, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London


  • WTO's Boeing Ruling Highlights Importance Of Contingency, Law 360 Expert Analysis, September 26, 2017
  • Here's What Happens If There's No Brexit Trade Deal, Wall Street Journal City interview with Brendan McGivern, June 26, 2017
  • The UK and the World Trade Organization (WTO): What Happens After Brexit?, Client alert, March 2017, co-authored with Richard Eglin
  • The Fundamentals of Trade Deals, LexisPSL interview with Greg Spak and Brendan McGivern, August 4, 2016
  • European seal ruling reveals broader tensions over animal rights, The Globe and Mail, May 26, 2014
  • The WTO Seal Products Panel – The 'Public Morals' Defense, Global Trade and Customs Journal, February 2014
  • Export Subsidies: Interview on LexisNexis, March 14, 2013
  • The TBT Agreement Meets the GATT: The Appellate Body decision in US – Tuna II (Mexico), Global Trade and Customs Journal, September 2012
  • Expert Analysis: WTO's Stance on US Zeroing in Vietnam Shrimp Scrap, Law 360: International Trade, July 27, 2011
  • Aircraft Subsidies and WTO Rules: The Airbus Decision, 35 Air and Space Law pp. 305–315, 2010
  • Dispute Settlement under the GATS: The Gambling and Telecoms cases, The World Trade Organization and Trade in Services, Martinus Nijhof/Brill Publishers, 2008
  • WTO Dispute Settlement After Doha: A 'Risk of Imbalance'?, Bridges (International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development), August 2006
  • Retaliation Revisited: Compliance and Implementation Issues in WTO Dispute Settlement, Reform and Development of the WTO Dispute Settlement System, Cameron, May 2006

Awards & Recognition

A "Most Highly Regarded" Individual, Who's Who Legal – Switzerland: Trade and Customs 2017

"Brendan McGivern heads the firm's WTO practice and is a 'very seasoned hand' who is 'doing a great job' for clients."

Ranked in Chambers Global 2017

"Clients… praise his extensive knowledge of trade law. Based in Geneva, he has a strong reputation for representing clients, including sovereign states, in WTO disputes."

Ranked in Chambers Global 2016

"He's a great lawyer, well respected in the community and very knowledgeable."

Thought Leader, Who's Who Legal: Trade and Customs 2016

"Brendan McGivern… is known as 'a very thoughtful guy' and 'someone you trust with the biggest cases'."

Ranked in Chambers Global 2015

"Practice head Brendan McGivern receives rave reviews from clients: 'He works in depth, has rich expertise and takes a business perspective. He's very practical in his advice.'"

Most Highly Regarded Individual, Who's Who Legal 2014

Trade & Customs - Geneva

Who's Who Legal 2014

"In Geneva, the remarkable Brendan McGivern heads the firm’s WTO practice and is widely acclaimed for the strength of his practice. Clients praise his 'approachability, flexibility and business nous,' and 'would not hesitate to recommend him.'"