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European Union law

A substantial part of Charles' advisory and court work involves European Union law, including in particular free movement of persons & EU citizenship, EU refugee and humanitarian law, public procurement, state aid, competition, EU environmental law and the relationship between EU law and UK constitutional law. He has significant experience of litigation before the Court of Justice of the European Union, including preliminary references under Art. 267 TFEU and infraction proceedings under Art. 258 TFEU, as well as EU law litigation in the domestic courts. He acted as sole counsel in the UK Supreme Court for Heathrow Hub Ltd in R (HS2 Action Alliance Ltd & others) v. Secretary of State for Transport [2014] 1 W.L.R. 324, described by Lord Reed JSC as the Supreme Court’s “most significant decision on EU law”.

He has published and lectured widely on EU law issues (see the ‘publications’ link above) and was a College Lecturer in EU Law at Oxford University from 2010 to 2015, holding undergraduate classes at weekends (at Lincoln, Oriel and Regents Park Colleges). In his early career he spent over a year working as a part-time volunteer at the Centre for Advice on Individual Rights in Europe ('AIRE Centre'), where he advised on a range of EU free movement and citizenship issues. He is a member of the Bar European Group and the UK State Aid Law Association. In 2017, he was appointed by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice as the  UK Member of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency's Management Board.

He is recommended as a leading junior in EU & Competition Law in the latest editions of Chambers & Partners UK (2018) and Legal 500 UK (2017), having been recommended in previous editions for several continuous years. Comments in these directories include that he “has an incredibly detailed knowledge of EU law and shows real skill in applying it”, is “extremely knowledgeable on EU law and equally passionate about its application”“is particularly adept at advising on cases involving questions of European law”, "his recent work has demonstrated his ability to handle cases involving the interpretation of European legislation and the subsequent impact in areas such as social security and benefit rights" and that “he has been active in a range of EU matters of late, including cases concerning fundamental rights and environment issues.”.

Details of the most significant EU law cases on which Charles has acted can be viewed by clicking the links above. Listed below are some highlights arranged by subject matter in the following order: (i) free movement of persons and EU citizenship; (ii) EU refugee and humanitarian protection law; (iii) economic sanctions (iv) public procurement; (v) state aid; (vi) competition; (vii) EU environmental law; (viii) other areas of EU law. Please scroll down to see each topic. 

Free movement of persons & EU citizenship

Charles has considerable experience of litigation and advisory work involving the scope of the free movement rights of workers and other EU citizens under the Citizenship Directive (Directive 2004/38/EC) and the TFEU, the rights of establishment and free movement of services, and the rights of EU citizens to social security benefits under Regulation (EC) 883/04. He also regularly acts in cases concerning the rights conferred on Turkish Citizens in the EU under the EEC-Turkey Association Agreement.

Recent cases in this field include:

  • Mirga v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Samin v. Westminster City Council[2016] 1 W.L.R. 481: two conjoined Supreme Court appeals concerning the scope of the rights of EU nationals to claim benefits in the UK and whether a fact-specific proportionality assessment is required prior to refusing benefits to an EU national who does not otherwise qualify.

  • R (Sanneh & others) v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] C.M.L.R. 27, five conjoined appeals concerning whether and in what circumstances a non-EU citizen with a Zambrano right to reside in the UK as the primary carer of a dependant EU national is entitled under EU law to social benefits to which UK citizens and EU citizens with a right to reside in the UK are entitled.
  • Case C-507/12 St Prix v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] 1 C.M.L.R. 38 (CJEU), concerning whether a woman from an EU Member State who, having worked in the UK, gives up work due to the demands of pregnancy remains a “worker” for the purposes of Article 7 of the Citizenship Directive and therefore retains a “right to reside” in the UK, bringing with it rights to social security benefits (with Jemima Stratford QC). The Supreme Court referred various questions to the CJEU under Art. 267 TFEU. The case raises far-reaching issues regarding the meaning of “worker” in EU free movement law and the anti-discrimination provisions of Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

  • Case C-186/10 Oguz v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] 1 W.L.R. 709 (CJEU), a preliminary reference from the Court of Appeal in which the CJEU held that a Turkish national who enters the UK lawfully but establishes a business in breach of his conditions of stay is not precluded by the ‘abuse of rights’ principle under EU law from relying on the standstill clause in the EEC-Turkey Association Agreement when he subsequently applies for further leave to remain in the UK on the basis of the business which he has established.

  • Patmalniece v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2011] 2 C.M.L.R. 45 (Supreme Court), concerning the compatibility with EU law of the UK Government’s imposition of a “right to reside” test for social security benefits within the scope of Council Regulation (EC) 1408/71 (with Richard Drabble QC).

EU refugee and humanitarian protection law

Charles has advised and appeared in several judicial review cases in the Administrative Court raising issues under the Qualification Directive (Directive 2004/84/EC & Directive 2011/95/EU) and the Dublin Regulations as well as associated issues under the Charter of Fundamental Rights relating to the rights of persons seeking refugee or humanitarian protection in the EU. His cases in this field include:

  • Case C-490/16 AS v. Republic of Slovenia ELCI:EU:C:2017:585 and Case C-466/16 Jafari ELCI:EU:C:2017:586 - two conjoined cases concerning how the allocation of responsibility between Member States for processing asylum claims under Regulation 604/2013 (the ‘Dublin III regulation’) is to be assessed in the context of the high profile migrant trains’ carrying Syrian refugees during 2015 in particular (sole counsel for the UK Government in the CJEU Grand Chamber).
  • Case C-150/15 Der Bundesbeauftragte für Asylangelegenheiten v. N, concerning the proper approach to assessing whether an individual is entitled to protection under the Qualification Directive due to restrictions on religious freedom in his/her country of origin (sole counsel for the UK Government).

  • Case C-542/13 M'Bodj v. État Belge [2015] C.M.L.R. 16, concerning whether a seriously ill failed asylum seeker whose removal to their country of origin would be contrary to Article 3 ECHR falls within the scope of the Qualification Directive and is therefore entitled to the benefits conferred by that Directive (sole counsel for the UK Government in the CJEU Grand Chamber).

  • Case C-562/13 Centre public d'action sociale d'Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve v. Abdida [2015] 2 C.M.L.R. 15, on whether the removal of a failed asylum seeker suffering from a serious illness to a country where appropriate treatment is not available can in some circumstances be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and, if so, the EU law consequences of that for the host Member State's ability to remove them (sole counsel for the UK Government in the CJEU Grand Chamber).

Economic sanctions

Charles has a growing practice in the law relating to economic sanctions imposed by the EU. He acted as sole counsel for Her Majesty’s Treasury in litigation relating to frozen assets of a former Egyptian government minister subject to the asset freezing regime under Regulation 270/2011, concerning the provision that funds may be released where it is determined that they are “intended exclusively for reasonable professional fees associated with the provision of legal services”: R (Ezz) v. HM Treasury [2016] EWHC 1470 (Admin). He is the co-author of an influential article on the implications for the relationship between EU law and ECHR law of the litigation relating to the the impoundment of an aircraft in Ireland pursuant to the EU sanctions against the former Yugoslav regime: Human rights review of State acts performed in compliance with EC law: Bosphorus Airways v. Ireland (2005) EHRLR 649.

Public procurement law

Charles regularly acts in the field of public procurement law. Please click here for details. 

State aid law

Charles has considerable experience of advising both public and private sector clients on state aid issues. He has particular expertise on the provisions of the General Block Exemption Regulation relating to aid measures aimed at environmental protection and the Commission Guidelines on State Aid for the Environment, as well as state aid issues relating to the sale of land interests by public authorities to the private sector. He has recently advised on the state aid implications of the proposed financing of the redevelopment of a well known sports venue, of funding the remediation of a former mine, of central Government funding for a new relief road that will enable the development of a large scale urban extension, and of granting relief from the Community Infrastructure Levy to registered charities.

Competition law

Charles is also experienced in competition law under Arts. 101-106 TFEU and the Competition Act 1998. Whilst on secondment as Judicial Assistant to the Law Lords, he worked on the seminal case of Crehan v. Inntrepreneur Pub Co. [2007] A.C. 333. He recently advised on competition issues in the context of a dispute between a sports professional and a well known sporting association, the provision of groundhandling activities at EU airports and the provision of services to the automotive industry.

EU environmental law

The majority of Charles’ environmental law practice involves issues of EU law, in particular under the SEA Directive, EIA Directive, Habitats Directive and Waste Framework Directive. Full details of his experience in this area are set out on his ‘Environmental law’ page (click here). He acted for DCLG, DEFRA and the Environment Agency in R (Edwards & Pallikaropoulos) v. Environment Agency [2011] 1 W.L.R. 79, in which the Supreme Court referred various questions to the CJEU concerning the interpretation of the requirement under Article 10a of the EIA Directive, implementing Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention, that environmental litigation should not be “prohibitively expensive”. He was also involved in drafting the UK Government’s defence in Case C-530/11 Commission v. UK, an infraction against the UK under Art. 258 TFEU regarding the compliance of the costs regime in UK environmental litigation with the EIA Directive. He is currently acting as sole counsel for the UK Government in Case C-528/16 Confédération paysanne v. Premier Ministre regarding the material scope of EU environmental legislation relating to genetically modified organisms (hearing on 3 October 2017).

Other areas of EU law 

Charles' EU law practice extends beyond the above principal areas into a range of other fields including EU law relating to data protection, aviation, the free movement of services and establishment and consumer protection, as well as EU constitutional law. Examples include:

  • Free movement of goods / tobacco regulation: acting for the Secretary of State for Health in proceedings brought by the leading producer of Swedish snus seeking the invalidation (on proportionality, subsidiarity and free movement of goods grounds) of the provisions in the 2014 Tobacco Products Directive which ban the production and supply of tobacco for oral use within the EU (except in Sweden, Austria and Finland in respect of which there are limited saving provisions): R (Swedish Match AB) v. Secretary of State for Health (referred by the Administrative Court to the CJEU following a hearing in January 2017).

  • Employment rights: Case C-214/16 King v. The Sash Window Workshop Ltd (CJEU, pending), a reference under Art. 267 TFEU from the Court of Appeal regarding remedies for breach of a worker’s right under Article 7 of the Working Time Directive 2003/88 to paid annual leave of at least four weeks.

  • Kobler damages: acting for the Attorney General in Ijaz v. Attorney General (High Court, 2016), a Kobler damages claim arising out of the Court of Appeal’s treatment of litigation brought by the claimant relating to the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.