Hansel Pham

Partner, Washington, DC


“Absolutely fantastic”
2017 Who's Who Legal


Hansel Pham is Office Executive Partner for the Washington, D.C. office of White & Case. 

Hansel has served as counsel in high-stakes international disputes, including before U.S. courts and in investment and commercial arbitrations under a variety of arbitral rules and institutions. Hansel was a part of the team that helped Canadian mining company Gold Reserve Inc. obtain an arbitral award for approximately US$750 million in compensation, relating to an investment in Venezuela. He also was counsel for the Republic of the Philippines in ICSID and ICC arbitrations ending with the complete dismissal of more than US$1 billion in combined claims, while also recovering US$11 million in legal fees. 

Hansel is one of the leaders of the Firm’s Vietnam Country Practice and heads up the Firm’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Group.  He served as a co-Chair of the Firm’s Asian Affinity Network, and was a founding Director and Officer of the Vietnamese-American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area.

Hansel has deep experience with proceedings to enforce international arbitral awards in the United States. He has acted as lead counsel in Micula et al v. Government of Romania, where he has been successful at the District Court and Court of Appeals levels in defending a US$356 million US judgment to enforce an ICSID award against Romania. He also assisted an instrumentality of a foreign state dismiss a claim for enforcement of an arbitral award worth US$18 billion.

His practice consists not only of representation in disputes, but in advisory work to avoid and prevent disputes from arising. He has provided clients with advise relating to treaty drafting and interpretation, drafting of arbitration and dispute resolution clauses, sovereign immunity defenses and waivers, and general litigation risk.

In addition to serving as Office Executive Partner, Hansel has been entrusted with a number of other leadership positions.  He has served as Chair of the DC Bar Attorney/Client Arbitration Board, Chair of the International Bar Association’s North American Regional Forum, President of the IBA Foundation, and Chairman of the Board for a local non-profit organization.

Bars and Courts
District of Columbia
New York
US District Court for the District of Columbia
US District Court for the Southern District of New York
US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
US Supreme Court
Harvard Law School
Harvard University


International Arbitrations

Successfully assisted a Canadian mining company obtain an award of compensation for over US$750 million in an arbitration under the ICSID Additional Facility Rules relating to an investment in Venezuela (Gold Reserve v. Venezuela).

Successfully secured the dismissal of approximately US$510 million in claims against the Republic of the Philippines in an investment treaty arbitration before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) relating to a concession to construct and operate an international airport passenger terminal (Fraport v. Republic of the Philippines).

Successfully secured the dismissal of over US$585 million in claims against the Republic of the Philippines in an international commercial arbitration before the International Court of Arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) relating to a government concession contract.

Successfully representing the Republic of Uzbekistan in an investment dispute brought under the Netherlands-Uzbekistan BIT, relating to cotton and textile facilities (Spentex v. Uzbekistan).

Obtained favorable award in an ICSID arbitration brought by a European dredging company under a BIT relating to the termination of a project to rehabilitate the host country’s waterways.

Commercial Litigation

Successfully represented Saudi Aramco and its U.S. subsidiaries in obtaining the dismissal at an early stage of a class action antitrust lawsuit in a multi-district litigation with at least hundreds of billions of dollars at issue (Fast Break Foods v. Saudi Arabian Oil Company et al.).

Successfully obtained dismissal of employment suit under the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act for an instrumentality of a foreign state.

Successfully represented an international organization comprised of sovereign State members in obtaining the dismissal of a lawsuit at an early stage.

Successfully representing a client in an action filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asserting claims of breach of cotract, quantum meruit, and intentional interference with contractual relations arising from various agreements related to the construction and development of a refinery.


Speaking Engagements

"Interim Measures in International Arbitration", ITA 28th Annual Workshop, Emergency Arbitrators and Interim Measures in International Arbitration, Dallas, TX, June 16, 2016

"Investing in Africa: Opportunities for Businesses and the Lawyers Who Counsel Them", 2nd Annual IBA Investing in Africa Conference, London, England, June 29-July 1, 2016

"Defending Uzbekistan's Commitment to the Rule of Law and Judicial Due Process through International Arbitration," Workshop on Improving Effectiveness of the Court and Justice Administration in Uzbekistan: Challenges and Prospects, Washington, D.C., March 17, 2015

"Overview of Investor-State Arbitration," Generations in Arbitration, Hong Kong, March 14, 2015

"40th International Arbitration Symposium: Investment Arbitration in the Asia-Pacific," Asia-Pacific Forum for International Arbitration, Washington, DC, February 25, 2015

"Best Practices and New Developments in High-Stakes Litigation and Arbitration," IBA North American Regional Forum, Atlanta, GA, December 4, 2014

"Panel on High-Stakes International Issues," ICC Young Arbitrators Forum, Atlanta, GA, December 3, 2014

"The FSIA and New York Convention in the Enforcement of International Arbitral Awards in the United States," Atlanta International Arbitration Society, Convergence and Divergence in International Arbitration Practice, Atlanta, GA, April 22, 2013

"Annulment of ICSID Awards involving Asian States," Investment Treaty Arbitration in Asia 101, Arbitrations and Contracts with Chinese, Indian and ASEAN Parties, Singapore International Arbitration Centre, New York, October 2, 2013

"Non-Pecuniary Remedies in Investment Arbitration," Harvard International Law Journal Symposium, Investment Treaty Arbitration: Approaching the System's Adulthood, Cambridge, MA, March 8, 2013

Moderator, "International Organizations' Response to Foreign Bribery," The International Fight Against Corruption: What's Working, What's Not Working, and What Will Work? Washington, DC, December 4, 2012

"Effective Use of Witness Statements," A Day of International Arbitration in Study and Practice, New York, October 26, 2012

"The Nuts and Bolts of International Arbitration," American Bar Association, Boston, Massachusetts, February 9, 2009

"International Dispute Resolution and Litigation," 12th Annual International Law Forum hosted by the Washington College of Law's International Law Society, Washington, DC, October 29, 2005


"Safeguard for foreign investors – A practical approach: investment protection and TTIP," Business Law Magazine, Dec. 2014 (co-authored with Dr. Markus Burianski and Dr. Sonja Dünnwald)

"Challenges to Party Representatives and Counsel Before International Courts and Tribunals," Challenges and Recusals of Judges and Arbitrators in International Courts and Tribunals, 2014 (co-authored with M. Imad Khan)

"The Principle of State Sovereignty over Natural Resources in US Lawsuits against OPEC and Member Countries," OPEC and International Law, 2010 (co-authored with Carolyn B. Lamm and Robert A. Milne)

"Fraud and Corruption in International Arbitration," Liber Amicorum Bernardo Cremades, 2010 (co-authored with Carolyn B. Lamm and Rahim Moloo)

"Has the Time Come for an ICSID Code of Ethics for Counsel?," Yearbook on International Investment Law & Policy 2009-2010 (co-authored with Carolyn B. Lamm and Chiara Giorgetti)

"Consent and Due Process in Multiparty Investor-State Arbitrations," International Investment Law for the 21st Century: Essays in Honour of Christoph Schreuer, 2009 (co-authored with Carolyn B. Lamm and Alexandra K. Meise Bay)

"Interim Measures and Dismissal under the 2006 ICSID Rules," The Future of Investment Arbitration, 2009 (co-authored with Carolyn B. Lamm and Chiara Giorgetti)

"Enforcing Foreign Arbitral Awards in the United States: The Non-Arbitrable Subject Matter Defense," Journal of International Arbitration, 2008 (co-authored with Abby Cohen Smutny)

"Developing Countries and the WTO: The Need for More Mediation in the DSU," Harvard Negotiation Law Review, 2004

"Taking the Next Step: Vietnam and MFN Status," Harvard International Review, 1997

Awards and Recognition

MVP of the Year, International Arbitration, Law360 2022

"Top 25 Attorneys of Maryland" 2022, Attorney Intel 

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, 2023

Key Lawyer, Dispute Resolution – International Arbitration, Legal 500 2022

"Future Leader: Arbitration", Who's Who Legal 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023

Leading Individual, Global Arbitration Review, 2014
International Arbitration