Hansel Pham

Partner, Washington, DC


“Absolutely fantastic”
2017 Who's Who Legal


Hansel Pham has served as counsel in high-stakes international disputes, including in arbitrations under ICSID, ICC, and UNCITRAL Rules as well as before US courts and agencies.  He 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.  Hansel also 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 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 claims, while also recovering US$11 million in legal fees.

Hansel speaks and writes frequently on international arbitration matters. 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.  He is one of the leaders of the Firm's Vietnam Country Practice, and a founding Director and Officer of the Vietnamese-American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area.

Bars and Courts
District of Columbia Bar
New York State Bar
US District Court for the District of Columbia
US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
US Supreme Court
Harvard Law School
Harvard University


Construction Arbitration:

Consortium of Construction Companies, 2015-Present
Represented a consortium of construction companies in a series of construction arbitrations regarding a dispute over the expansion of the Panama Canal.

International Arbitrations:

Central Asian State, 2013–2016
Successfully represented the State in an investment arbitration before ICSID achieving complete dismissal of claims.

Republic of the Philippines, 2011–2017
Successfully represented State in an ICISD investment treaty arbitration relating to dredging operations.

Canadian mining company, 2010–2014
Successfully assisted a Canadian mining company in obtaining an award  of compensation of more  than US$750  million, in an arbitration conducted under the ICSID Additional Facility Rules, which related to an investment in Venezuela ('Gold Reserve v. Venezuela').

Republic of the Philippines, 2003–2014
Successfully secured the dismissal of approximately US$1 billion in claims in a related investment treaty arbitration before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and international commercial arbitration before the International Court of Arbitration for the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Commercial Litigation:

American Arbitration Association, 2012–2013
Obtained a favorable outcome from the US Supreme Court in representing the American Arbitration Association as an amicus curiae party. The dispute related to the standards for judicial review of international arbitral awards in the United States ('BG Group v. Republic of Argentina').

Publishing Company, 2013
Obtained a favorable settlement for a company in an employment dispute.

Saudi Aramco and US subsidiaries, 2006–2011
Successfully represented Saudi Aramco and its US subsidiaries in obtaining the early dismissal of a class action antitrust lawsuit in a multidistrict litigation with at least hundreds of billions of US dollars at stake ('Fast Break Foods v. Saudi Arabian Oil Company et al.').

Advisory Work:

Sovereign states, 2008–2015
Advised sovereign States on best practices in the drafting of foreign investment treaties and laws.

State-owned corporation, 2013–2014
Advised a State-owned corporation on the effect that certain internet activities may have on sovereign immunity and other jurisdictional issues under US law.

Sovereign state, 2009–2011
Advised a sovereign State on the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the act of state doctrine, in relation to efforts to recover funds illegally transferred overseas.

Speaking Engagements

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

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

"Judicial Review of International Arbitral Awards Involving Issues of Corruption", December 1, 2015: ITA 10th Annual Americas Workshop, Underlying corruption issues in Arbitration, Mexico City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Challenges to Party Representatives and Counsel Before International Courts and Tribunals, in Challenges and Recusals of Judges and Arbitrators in International Courts and Tribunals, 2015, (co-author with M. Imad Khan)

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

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

Fraud and Corruption in International Arbitration, Liber Amicorum Bernardo Cremades, 2010, (co-author with Carolyn 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-author with Carolyn 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-author with Carolyn Lamm and Alexandra Meise Bay)

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

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

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

Awards and Recognition

"Future Leader: Arbitration" 2021 Who's Who Legal

Leading Individual, Global Arbitration Review, 2014
International Arbitration