Charles practises as an advocate both in the English courts and internationally. He has been called to the Hong Kong Bar and also accepts instructions as a full member of Temple Chambers in Hong Kong. He has appeared in court in Cayman, Bermuda, Bahamas, BVI, Gibraltar and Brunei.
He is principally a commercial litigator with a broad practice whose strength is his vast experience in court, whether at interlocutory, trial or appellate level or in arbitrations. His books Documentary Evidence and Conflicts of Interest are well-known and he has argued many of the leading cases in those areas. He is also used as an advocate in major EU and competition matters
Charles has always been recommended by the directories in Commercial Litigation and Professional Negligence.
Recent court work involves the Ukrainian banking dispute JSC Commercial Bank v Kolomoisky, acting for a QC accused of conspiracy to injure by deliberately misleading the court in King v Stiefel, and arguing the first ever Bilateral Investment Treaty case to come before the Hong Kong court in Starr v Russia. The Supreme Court has just given the other side leave to appeal on the question Charles argued whether the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act has extra-territorial effect in Roberts v MOD/SSAFA. Charles also argued China Medical Technologies v Bank of China before the HK Court of Final Appeal on extension of validity of a writ. In addition he argued whether a litigation expert is a fiduciary in Secretariat v Company A and also the first ever Hong Kong case on the ambit of the rule prohibiting enforcement of a foreign revenue law in Pico Projects International (going to the HK Court of Appeal).
The Fundao dam litigation, Municipio de Mariana v BHP Billiton, is major environmental litigation, involving an 8 day jurisdiction hearing. China Medical Supplies v Paul Weiss, a professional negligence action against the international law firm seeking trial in New York, led to a 142 page judgment from the Hong Kong court. Roberts v SSAFA/MOD is a personal injury action throwing up a host of difficult conflict of law problems and is about to be heard by the Supreme Court. His jurisdiction expertise includes a number of ant-suit injunction cases.
This has involved a claim before the Bermuda Court of Appeal , Ivanishvili v Credit Suisse, arising from a fraud in the management of a Swiss law life portfolio; and a claim in the Bahamas involving the administration of a construction project, Winder v Baha Mar Ltd, with associated litigation in New York. A four week trial in Cayman concerning the ownership of the Ritz Carlton, RC Cayman v Ryan, which involved a number of hearings there, settled shortly before trial. Charles also argued the HK Court of Appeal case, Mayer BVI v Alliance Financial Intelligence, as to whether the HK court should follow the English Supreme Court decision in Takhar v Greenfield. Charles is recommended in the top tier for Commercial Dispute resolution in the Asia-Pacific edition of Legal 500.
Most of Charles’ offshore cases involve commercial fraud. That often involves acting for administrators and liquidators, such as in the various China Medical Supplies litigations. Charles has argued a number of the leading cases on Norwich Pharmacal orders.
Professional negligence and regulatory:
In King v Stiefel after a six day hearing in the Commercial Court the court struck out a claim against a QC for whom Charles acted, accused of having deliberately misled the court. Other recent work has involved a series of Hong Kong large accountancy negligence claims (for claimants and defendants) which have stubbornly refused to reach trial, Sino Forest v BDO, Mingyuan Medical v Deloitte. China Medical Supplies v Paul Weiss, a large negligence action against the international law firm for failure to uncover a fraud, is ongoing. Charles was involved in the various Tchenguiz actions both in England and in Jersey and Guernsey. Charles’ conflict of interest practice, where he advises many of the law London law firms, spills into professional regulatory and disciplinary work as well as professional negligence. He has acted in negligence claims involving solicitors, barristers, accountants and auditors, actuaries, insolvency practitioners and investment bankers, stockbrokers and fund managers. The largest case in which he acted was The Accident Group which involved claims against 634 firms of solicitors and a second set of proceedings against 84 firms. Charles was a previous nominee for Professional Negligence Silk of the Year in the Chambers Bar Awards.
Because of his great experience before appellate courts, Charles is often brought into cases at the appellate stage, such as Astex v Astra Zeneca, an appeal after an intellectual property trial in a drug discovery case. He was instructed on the appeal in Harb v Prince Abdul Aziz, where an agreement was found to have been made with the son of the Saudi king during a conversation at the Dorchester hotel and the appeal also raised allegations of bias as a result of communications with counsel by the trial judge (Peter Smith J).
The TAG litigation, in which 634 firms of solicitors were sued for negligence in the first action and 84 more in the second, predated the current popularity of group actions. Recent work includes acting for defendants in the Trucks litigation in the CAT and the FX litigation, the Fundao dam litigation, Municipalia de Mariana v BHP Billiiton acting for 202,000 Brazilian claimants..
RBF HK Ltd v ZPMC Offshore Service Ltd, a joint venture dispute about container vessels, was heard in September 2020. A related arbitration before a different panel, Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co Ltd v Adkins, was heard in December 2020. Sanofi v JHL is a HKIAC pharmaceutical arbitration raising issues as to the efficacy of a provision for pre-commencement negotiations. Dow v Luxi Chemicals was a two week Swedish Chamber of Commerce arbitration concerning copying of the specification for a Chinese Chemical plant. A lengthy arbitration in Hong Kong in relation to a joint venture for the construction of Studio City, Macau, Paul Y v Yau Li, settled just before commencement. Other recent international arbitrations include Invista Technologies v Yisheng Petroleum, a CIETAC arbitration under UNCITRAL rules involving a PRC chemical plant, and Helios Photo Voltaic v Jianxi Solar HiTech, a HKIAC UNCITRAL arbitration concerning photographic equipment.
Conflicts of interest:
Charles has written the leading book on the law of conflicts of interest (now in its 6th ed), and regularly lectures on the topic. He advises very many of the leading law firms on dealing with conflicts of interest, and confidential information., Charles was recently brought in to argue Secretariat International v A in the Court of Appeal as to whether a litigation expert owes a fiduciary duty to his appointor .
As a result of his well-known book, Documentary Evidence, (14th ed to be published shortly) which is regularly cited in court, Charles has been involved in many of the leading cases in relation to the law of documents, disclosure and legal professional privilege, Norwich Pharmacal and letters rogatory. He has lectured on these topics for many years and on numerous occasions given affidavit expert evidence for foreign courts.
Charles has had a practice in sports law for over 30 years and has argued cases involving almost every sport. Much has been in doping cases, in which he has been involved since the 1980s. Now most of his work in this area is as chair of arbitral, disciplinary or appeal panels. A former chair of the Bar Sports Law Group, since 2019 he has been worldwide chair of the World Athletics Disciplinary Panel, supervising and sitting on disciplinary matters across athletics. He is a chair of the UK National Anti-Doping Panel and a Tennis Anti-Corruption Officer, handling betting and match fixing cases in tennis, and a chairman member of the FA Judicial Panel. Recent sports work as arbitrator includes Hassey v Kelechi Iheanacho concerning the management and transfer of the Leicester City striker.
Charles is brought into competition and freedom of movement cases, for trials or court hearings for his advocacy experience. He is currently instructed on the defendant side both in the ongoing Trucks litigation and FX litigation. Competition Commission v Nutanix was the first reference under the new Hong Kong Competition Ordinance, and after a four week trial decided many of the important issues under that statute, as well as a prior decision in relation to privilege against self-incrimination under the ordinance. Charles is recommended in the top tier for Competition Law in the Asia-Pacific Legal 500. Apart from ongoing applications seeking CAT group action certification, Charles was involved in Emerald Supplies v British Airways. A number of the major competition cases he argued have involved horseracing, including Attheraces and Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Services. Viking, which ultimately went to the CJEU, is a leading case on freedom of establishment.
APPELLATE CASES (as an advocate only)
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE CASES
CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND BREACH OF CONFIDENCE CASES
OTHER SIGNIFICANT REPORTED CASES
Documentary Evidence 1st ed 1985, 14th ed 2021
Conflicts of Interest 1st ed 2000, 6th ed 2020
Phipson on Evidence (editor with others) 20th ed 2021
Competition Litigation (contributor) 1st ed 2010, 2nd ed 2020
Documentary Evidence in Hong Kong 1st ed 2015, 2nd ed 2020