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Administrative & Public law

Charles is recommended as a leading junior in administrative & public law in the latest editions of both Legal 500 UK (2017) and Chambers & Partners UK (2018), having been recommended in previous editions for several continuous years. He is also recommended as a leading junior in local government law in Chambers & Partners UK (2018). He undertakes advisory work and litigation across the whole spectrum of public law, including all aspects of central and local government, constitutional issues, freedom of information, immigration, community care, healthcare, mental health, prisons, public procurement, regulation, social security and transport. He has worked on numerous cases before the Administrative Court, both as a junior and as sole or lead counsel, as well as some of the leading public law appeals of the last decade before the Supreme Court concerning issues such as the territorial application of UK Acts of Parliament (Al-Skeini), the circumstances in which the High Court’s judicial review jurisdiction can be restricted by legislation or judicial policy (Cart) and the Court’s jurisdiction to review the Parliamentary procedure for Hybrid Bills for compatibility with EU law (HS2). Please click the following links for his details of his public law work in the context of: regulatory law, public procurementhuman rights and international law.

His practice is balanced between acting for claimants (including individuals such as Mr Cart in the case about judicial review of the Upper Tribunal, companies such as London Reading College Ltd in the lead case on revocation of Tier 4 Sponsorship Licences, and NGOs such as the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants in the ‘immigration cap’ challenge), defendants (regular clients include several central government departments as well as a range of local authorities across the country) and interested parties / interveners (including commercial parties seeking to protect their interests and NGOs intervening in cases of general public importance). He strongly believes that maintaining a balanced practice makes him best placed to advise his clients on the opportunities and threats that they face during litigation, by providing an insight into the other side’s likely mindset.

Charles is a member of the Attorney General's A Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown and was also member of the Treasury Solicitor’s Freedom of Information Panel until its incorporation within the Attorney General’s main panels. From 2004 to 2011 he was a Digester for the Administrative Court Digest, preparing bimonthly commentaries of significant public law cases, and since 2009 he has been on the editorial team of the 'International Developments' section of the journal Public Law. He is a member of the Administrative Law Bar Association. He has given expert evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee (see the ‘publications’ section above).

Details of the most significant cases on which Charles has worked can be accessed by clicking the ‘cases’ link above. Recent highlights include:

  • Constitutional law: representing the claimant in the Divisional Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in R (Cart) v. Upper Tribunal [2012] 1 A.C. 663, a landmark constitutional case concerning whether the Upper Tribunal is amenable to judicial review in cases where no statutory appeal is available (with Richard Drabble QC). The Supreme Court accepted the claimant’s submission that the approach of the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal (that JR was available only in wholly exceptional circumstances) was too narrow and held that permission to bring a JR claim should be granted if the claim raises an important point of principle of practice and/or there is some other compelling reason for it to be heard. The decision is one of the most important chapters in the case-law relating to the principles underpinning the High Court’s judicial review jurisdiction. Charles subsequently acted for the Public Law Project in JD (Congo) v. SSHD [2012] Imm. A.R. 719 in which the Court of Appeal gave important guidance on the interpretation of the "compelling reason" test for appeals from and judicial review of the Upper Tribunal.

  • Immigration: appearing for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants in the Supreme Court in April 2012 in R (Munir) v. SSHD [2012] 1 W.L.R. 2192 and R (Alvi) v. SSHD [2012] 1 W.L.R. 2208 , two high profile test cases in which the Court, accepting JCWI's submissions, ruled that a significant part of the UK Border Agency’s practice was unlawful because requirements that could be determinative of immigration applications had not been laid before Parliament as required by s.3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971, but instead had been simply set out in governmental “Guidance” documents and other documents external to the Immigration Rules (with Richard Drabble QC).

  • Immigration sponsor licensing: appearing in the Supreme Court in R (New London College Ltd.) v. SSHD [2013] 1 W.L.R. 2358, concerning the legality of the Tier 4 Sponsor Licence regime by which the UK Border Agency regulates educational organisations that sponsor visa applications by non-EEA students. Charles previously represented the successful claimant in R (London Reading College Ltd) v. SSHD [2010] E.L.R. 809, in which the High Court held that the revocation of the London Reading College’s Tier 4 Sponsor’s Licence by the UK Border Agency, the effect of which was that the College was unable to continue sponsoring overseas students (who formed the overwhelming majority of the college’s clientele), was procedurally unfair and in breach of Article 1 of the First Protocol ECHR.

  • Transportacting for HS2 Action Alliance in the Supreme Court in R (HS2 Action Alliance Ltd) v. Secretary of State for Transport [2014] 1 W.L.R. 324, the challenge to the Government’s White Paper High Speed 2: Decisions and Next Steps setting out the strategy for a new high speed railway from London to Birmingham and beyond (with David Elvin QC).

  • Local government finance and procurement: acting in two of the principal domestic cases on the duty under s.123 of the Local Government Act 1972 to obtain best consideration for the disposal of land interests, and the applicability of public procurement law, in the context of development agreements entered into between a local authority and a developer for urban regeneration projects on Council-owned land: R (Midlands Co-Operative) v. Birmingham City Council [2012] B.L.G.R. 393 and R (Faraday Development Ltd) v. West Berkshire Council [2016] EWHC 2166 (Admin).

  • Local government: representing the London Mayor  in the High Court in November 2013 in R (Islington LBC & others) v. Mayor of London, London Fire Commissioner & London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority [2013] EWHC 4142 (Admin), a challenge by various London councils and the Fire Brigades Union to proposals in the Fifth London Safety Plan to reduce the number of fire stations, appliances and firefighters in London owing to budgetary constraints (with Richard Drabble  QC); acting for Transport for London in Southwark LBC v. Transport for London [2017] EWCA Civ 1220 regarding the extent of interests in London’s roads that were transferred from London local authorities to TfL upon the latter’s creation by statute in 2000.

  • Healthcare: acting for Cornwall Council in the Supreme Court in R (Cornwall Council) v. Secretary of State for Health [2016] A.C. 137, concerning the assessment of a vulnerable person’s ordinary residence for the purpose of identifying which authority is responsible for funding their long term residential care and support under ss.21 & 24 of the National Assistance Act 1948 (with David Lock QC); acting for a care services provider in a £multi-million dispute with an NHS commissioning group regarding a contract for outsourced services (2017-ongoing, also with David Lock QC); advising the Department of Health on regulation of novel tobacco products (2017).
  • Social security: appearing a series of cases concerning the lawfulness of restrictions on access to social security benefits by economically inactive EU migrants: Patmalniece v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2011] 1 W.L.R 783, St Prix v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] 1 All E.R. 752, R (Sanneh) v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] 3 W.L.R. 1867 and Mirga v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Samin v. Westminster City Council [2016] 1 W.L.R. 481.

  • Regulation: R (Traveller Movement) v. Office of Communications [2015] EWHC 406 (Admin), a challenge to Ofcom’s decision not to uphold a complaint that Channel 4 had breached broadcasting standards in relation to the TV programmes My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and Thelma’s Gypsy Girls, raising important issues about the legality of Ofcom's procedures for determining complaints (with Christopher Jacobs).

  • Prisons: acting in various challenges to decisions by prison authorities, including representing the Secretary of State for Justice in R (Bates) v. Independent Adjudicator [2011] EWHC 3236 (Admin) (fairness and Article 6 ECHR in prison adjudications) and R (Calder) v. Secretary of State for Justice [2015] EWCA Civ 1050 (level of evidence required for a decision to recall a prisoner on parole to prison; whether Parole Board hearing an alternative remedy precluding judicial review) and representing the Applicant in App 16477/09 MS v. United Kingdom (on the circumstances in which refusal to locate a prisoner to be near his/her family violates Article 8 EHCR).

  • Freedom of information: acting for a range of Government Departments in Freedom of Information Act cases, including Greenwood v. Information Commissioner [2013] UKFTT EA/2012/0169 (acting for the Crown Prosecution service resisting disclosure of the signatures and direct contact details of certain staff), Sittampalam v Information Commissioner & Home Office [2012] UKFTT EA/2012/0150 (concerning the circumstances in which a repeated request for information under the FOIA can be rejected as vexatious), Home Office v. Information Commissioner & Wickström [2012] UKFTT EA/2011/0203 (acting for the Home Office seeking to resist the disclosure of names of junior staff on the basis that it would offend the First Data Protection Principle), Ray v. Information Commissioner [2011] UKFTT EA/2010/0118 (acting for Companies House resisting disclosure of company information on the grounds that it would constitute an actionable breach of confidence) and Ministry of Justice v. Information Commissioner & Wyllie (acting for the MoJ resisting disclosure of records of certain internal policy discussions by the Government team responsible for the Inquiries Bill which became the Inquiries Act 2005).

  • Child support: representing the appellant in the Court of Appeal in R (Brookes) v. Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission [2010] 1 W.L.R. 2448, the lead authority on the impact of the welfare principle under s.2 of the Child Support Act 1991 and of Article 8 ECHR on the discretion of the Commission to seize goods from the family home of a person owing arrears in child support maintenance and/or to seek his committal to prison.

  • Comparative public law and the revocation of administrative decisions: representing the Secretary of State in R (Gleeson Developments Ltd) v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014] P.T.S.R. 1226 concerning the applicability in the context of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 of the principles set out by the High Court of Australia in Bhardwaj v. Minister of Immigration [2002] H.C.A. 11 regarding the circumstances in which a public body has power to re-open past decisions on discovering an error (with Jonathan Swift QC).