James H. Searles

Avenue Louise 489
B-1050 Brussels
TEL: +32 2 626 0500
FAX: +32 2 626 0510


James H. Searles focuses his practice on EU and international trade law.  Chambers Europe quotes clients’ appreciation of Mr. Searles as being "consistent and very devoted" and regards him as “a stalwart of the trade arena.”   Who's Who Legal quotes feedback stating that he is a "consummate professional" with an "exhaustive knowledge base."  His work also covers environmental and competition law issues related to trade.

Mr. Searles advises on matters of WTO-compatibility of EU and third-country trade measures as such and regarding national sectoral and other regulatory measures (e.g., TBT and SPS compatibility).  He provides counsel to industry and governmental agencies on market access issues (intra-EU and international, tariffs, and NTBs) and regional, bilateral, and multilateral trade relations.

Mr. Searles advises on EU external trade measures (antidumping), customs, intra-EU trade obstacles, and international market access issues generally, for corporate clients and trade associations in the agricultural, chemicals, motor vehicle, information technology, steel, textiles, sports, and general consumer goods sectors.  Outside the European Union, Mr. Searles has significant international trade experience relating to China and Japan.   

His antidumping case experience is substantial, primarily representing exporters to the EU market and EU importer interests.  This work includes advocacy initiatives for the affected industries and advice to the exporting country authorities on dealing with antidumping measures in bilateral and WTO contexts.  Mr. Searles also deals with EU safeguard and external trade barriers measures, as well as EU customs matters (preferential regimes, suspensions, classification, and valuation).

His environmental work is largely linked to trade concerns, including policy advice on the WTO trade/environment nexus, negotiation of industry-wide environmental agreements having market access implications, and advice on trade implications of EU environment initiatives affecting the chemicals (REACH) and electronics (WEEE/RoHS) sectors.

Mr. Searles started in Brussels with an internship at the European Commission.  He was an associate and then a partner with another law firm in Brussels from 1986-2003, and joined Steptoe’s Brussels office as a partner in 2004.  He has written and presented on international trade and environment law issues in Europe, Asia, and the United States.


  • Chambers Europe and Chambers Global for International Trade/WTO(Europe/Belgium) 2008-2017
  • Legal 500 EMEA for Customs, Trade, WTO & Anti-Dumping 2011-2017
  • Legal 500 EMEA for EU Regulatory: Food 2016
  • Best Lawyers in Belgium, Trade Law, 2014-2018
  • Who's Who Legal for Trade & Customs 2009-2012, 2015-2017 
  • Legalease Legal Experts Guide (2013)
  • Legal 500 EMEA for EU Regulatory: Environment (including WEE and RoHS) and Chemicals (REACH) 2012
  • Who's Who Legal for Environment 2006-2011
  • Euromoney's Expert Guide to the World's Leading International Trade Lawyers 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015

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