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Human Rights

Charles is recommended as a leading junior in Civil Liberties & Human Rights in the latest three editions of Legal 500 UK (2017, 2016 & 2015). Much of his public law work involves issues under the Human Rights Act 1998 and/or the ECHR. He has experience of applications for declarations of incompatibility under s.4 of the Human Rights Act, judicial review of public authority acts on human rights grounds, damages claims under s.8 of the Human Rights Act and proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights. His EU law work also regularly involves issues under the Charter of Fundamental Rights. 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.

Highlights include:

  • Territorial scope of the ECHR and Human Rights Act: representing several NGOs in R (Al-Skeini) v. Secretary of State for Defence [2008] 1 A.C. 153, in which the House of Lords considered the extent to which the acts of British soldiers in Iraq fell within the scope of the UK’s obligations under the ECHR and Human Rights Act (with Keir Starmer QC).

  • Right to life: acting for the Secretary of State for Justice defending a claim alleging a failure by prison authorities to comply with the duty under Article 2 ECHR to take reasonable precautions against the risk of prisoners attempting suicide (2015, ongoing).

  • Inhuman and degrading treatment: appearing for the UK before the Grand Chamber of the CJEU in Case C-542/13 M'Bodj v. État Belge [2015] C.M.L.R. 16 and Case C-562/13 Centre public d'action sociale d'Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve v. Abdida [2015] 2 C.M.L.R. 15, two  references from the Belgian Cour Constitutionelle concerning the scope of humanitarian protection under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for non-EU citizens suffering from serious illness whose removal to their country of origin would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment.

  • Forced labour and human trafficking: defending the Home Secretary in two challenges to the compatibility of the process for determining whether a person is a victim of human trafficking and their treatment before and after such a determination with the UK’s obligations under Article 4 ECHR (prohibition on slavery / forced labour) and the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking: R (Atamewan) v. SSHD [2014] 1 W.L.R. 1949 (DC) and R (Haile) v. SSHD [2015] EWHC 732 (Admin).

  • Fair trial rights: acting for the Secretary of State for Justice in R (Bates) v. Independent Adjudicator [2011] EWHC 3236 (Admin), a challenge to a prison disciplinary adjudication alleging that the procedure was contrary to Article 6 ECHR.
  • Private/family life: acting for the United Kingdom in App. No. 39714/15 Austin v. UKconcerning the circumstances in which Article 8 ECHR applies in cases of environmental pollution; acting for the applicant in App. No. 16477/09 MS v. United Kingdom, concerning the circumstances in which refusal to locate a prisoner to be near his/her family violates Article 8 EHCR; for the appellant in R (Brookes) v. Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission[2010] 1 W.L.R. 2448, the lead authority on the impact 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; for the claimant in R (RLT Built Environment Ltd) v Cornwall Council [2016] EWHC 2817 (Admin) regarding the effect on Article 8 ECHR of the ‘second homes ban’ in St Ives; and for the Home Secretary in R (Stephenson) v. SSHD [2010] EWHC 704 (Admin), R (WJ) (China) v. SSHD[2010] EWHC 776 (Admin) and R (Juliuson) v. SSHD [2010] EWHC 2780 (Admin) concerning Article 8 EHCR in the context of the proposed removal/deportation of foreign criminals and persons unlawfully present in the UK.

  • Freedom of religion: acting for the UK in the CJEU in 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.

  • Right to marry: R (Baiai) v. SSHD [2009] 1 A.C. 287, in which the House of Lords considered the compatibility of the regime requiring non-EEA immigrants to obtain a certificate of approval before marrying in the UK with Article 12 ECHR (with Richard Drabble QC).

  • Possessions and property rights: acting for the 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 in breach of Article 1 of the First Protocol ECHR.

  • Discrimination: acting for the AIRE Centre in the CJEU in Case C-507/12 Saint Prix v. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2014] P.T.S.R. 1448, concerning whether the exclusion of a woman who gives up work on account of the demands of pregnancy from the status of “worker” under Article 45 TFEU and/or the Citizenship Directive would amount to gender discrimination contrary to Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (with Jemima Stratford QC).
  • Right to an effective remedy: acting for the United Kingdom in App. No. 39714/15 Austin v. UK concerning whether protection of a litigant against an adverse costs order in the event that his/her claim fails is required in order to achieve compliance with the right to an effective remedy under Article 13 ECHR.  

  • Human Rights Act damages: acting for the claimant in London Reading College v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, a claim for over £1.2 million damages under s.8 of the Human Rights Act arising out of the successful judicial review claim mentioned above.