Profile

What I do: In a nutshell

I am a barrister in independent practice working out of Francis Taylor Building in London and Trinity Chambers in Newcastle upon Tyne. My practice has been built up over 20 years, and, unusually, combines licensing work with contentious chancery/commercial and property matters. I am ranked by the independent legal directories as a leading practitioner.

I am a results-driven lawyer. I try to help clients understand the opportunities and challenges a case presents, set a goal, and develop and deliver a focused strategy to get to that goal.

What I do: Licensing

I act for local authorities, statutory bodies, single and multiple operators and objectors, in relation to all types of licences and applications. I appear before local authority committees and on appeals to the Magistrates' Courts, Crown Court (in taxi and firearms matters) and High Court (in appeals by way of case stated and judicial review). I am also instructed to act as legal advisor to licensing committees.

I have been involved in many bar and nightclub applications, including the highly contentious ''Chase'' and ''Gresham'' matters in Newcastle. For retail premises, I have much experience of reviews concerning matters such as underage sales, sales to drunk persons and the stocking of counterfeit or duty-evaded alcohol and cigarettes. I have a particular interest in minimum unit pricing and reducing the strength schemes.

I have appeared in several high profile concert venue, festival, sporting and entertainment applications including The Sage Gateshead, Newcastle Academy, Birmingham Academy, Darlington FC, Kynren (the largest outdoor event since the London Olympics of 2012), the Fusion Festival (60,000 capacity festival in Liverpool) and the Tyneside Cinema (which involved a 4.00am bar in Newcastle's cumulative impact zone). I recently advised a local authority in relation to police concerns arising from a late kick off for a contentious derby football match.

Taxi licensing forms a hefty chunk of my licensing practice, and I am instructed nationally by local authorities, operators, and individual driver/proprietors. I represented Berwick in R. (on the application of Newcastle City Council) v. Berwick upon Tweed Borough Council (2009) and the local authority in Wilcock v. Lancaster City Council [2013]. On the other side of the fence, I successfully appeared for Mr Henderson in Gateshead Council v. Henderson [2012]. Advisory work includes acting for local authorities in relation to policy formulation and revision, including policy on vehicle standards, suspensions, driver disclosure and applications (including applications from App-based operators). I chaired a Law Commission workshop in relation to its review of taxi services, and I regularly give talks and host seminars on taxi licensing topics.

In sexual entertainment cases I advise and act in lap-dancing applications, most frequently for operators who are either applying or pursuing trade objections. I represented the applicant in R (Ruby May (1) Limited) v. Leeds City Council [2014]. Other sex licensing matters have included appearing for the applicant in R. v. Newcastle City Council (ex parte The Christian Institute) [2001]. I have a particular interest in the interaction between sex licensing and human rights.

I acts and advise in firearms (both for the police and certificate holders, as well as firearms dealers) and gambling matters. I has recently been providing advice and acting as legal advisor in relation to scrap metal dealers licence applications. I also undertake work on selective licensing schemes.

The scope of licensing is ever-expanding, and I am always interested in new and unusual licensing and regulatory fields, whether they concern (for some recent examples) zoos, gangmasters, specialist tobacconists, swingers' clubs, psychoactive substances, former fire engines converted into mobile hen party venues, late night pizza deliveries, the use of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in relation to unlawful trading, or any other state regulation of activities in the public interest.

What I do: Chancery / Commercial

I have a broad-ranging chancery and commercial litigation practice. I try to achieve pragmatic and commercial resolutions to disputes, with advice (hopefully) delivered in clear, plain English. There is a frequent overlap between my commercial and licensing practices, where I will often act for licensing clients in ancillary commercial and property matters (and vice versa).

My commercial work concerns contractual disputes, building disputes, guarantees, mortgages and other security, restrictive covenants in employment contracts and confidential information. Cross-overs to licensing work include claims brought by the Premier League against public houses showing live football matches.

Company law matters undertaken include shareholder disputes and cases involving breach of statutory and fiduciary duties by directors and senior employees. I act in partnership disputes, including agricultural and professional partnerships: recently, I have been involved in a complex company / insolvency matter involving the breakup of a pub chain. My chancery practice also includes contentious probate and Inheritance Act claims.

What I do: Property

In property matters, I deal with landlord and tenant cases (often involving licensed premises, including those with beer-tie issues), conveyancing and related land disputes, and cases involving covenant and boundary issues. I was recently involved in a major claim and cross-claim involving property in Dubai. Covenant work includes the release of covenants prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquor. I am often instructed in property disputes concerning cohabitees. I have represented applicants and interested parties in village green inquiries.

What I do: Public Law

I am always interested in public law cases outside of licensing, typically involving local authority decision making. Recent examples have included advising the supporters of a rural primary school that faced closure, challenging a local authority's safeguarding committee in relation to findings made against a carer, representing a local authority in a challenge to its care home fee setting regime and challenging a public procurement process for waste services.

What they say

Chambers UK 2017 (Licensing) "Charles has a gift for dealing with the uncomfortable truth. He pulls no punches in his advice, and is highly valued for that".

Legal 500 2016 (Commercial, Banking and Insolvency) "‘He is an expert in persuasion and provides frank advice."

Legal 500 2016 (Property) "Focused on the details; he uncovers arguments that would have never been found."

Legal 500 2016 (Regulatory, Health and Safety and Licensing) "He is straightforward to deal with and always puts 100% into researching his cases, delivering great results."

Chambers UK 2016 (Licensing) "His paperwork is particularly impressive and thorough - he covers all angles and goes through the case in fine detail." "He is fast on his feet and pulls no punches if he thinks you're going down the wrong path."

Chambers UK 2016 (Commercial Dispute Resolution) "Senior junior with extensive experience covering contractual and property disputes".

How to instruct me

I welcome instructions from the public (whether individuals or businesses) direct through Direct Access.

For potential new matters, I am always happy to have an informal "no strings" discussion to see if I can help: what I usually ask for in advance is a short email setting out, briefly, what the issue is.

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