Charles specialises in commercial law, and represents clients in both court and arbitration proceedings. His cases tend to be high value and complex, and often involve multiple sets of proceedings in several jurisdictions.
The broad nature of his practice is reflected by recommendations in a wide array of disciplines in Chambers/The Legal 500, including international arbitration, commercial dispute resolution, banking and financial, energy, insurance and reinsurance, shipping and commodities.
Charles has represented clients in a wide variety of disputes before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court. He has also appeared before many arbitral tribunals, including the International Chamber of Commerce, London Court of International Arbitration, London Maritime Arbitrators Association, GAFTA, FOSFA, IPE, Refined Sugar Association, London Metal Exchange and City Disputes Panel. He has particular experience of appeals from awards under s.67, 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (a subject on which he regularly lectures). He also accepts appointments as an arbitrator in commercial disputes. Very recently, Charles acted for the LCIA in the Supreme Court case Halliburton v Chubb, dealing with issues of arbitrator bias.
Charles was nominated ‘International Arbitration Silk of the Year’ for both the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2019 and The Legal 500 UK Awards 2020.
He has been involved in numerous cases involving banking and investment disputes, company law and financial services. He has particular experience in derivatives. He also has significant experience in disputes arising in the private equity sector. He has appeared in numerous cases involving energy and natural resources, and has particular experience in the petroleum and natural gas industries. Likewise, he has acted in many insurance/reinsurance disputes, for both insured/reinsured and insurers/reinsurers. He has been involved in many leading cases in the fields of commodities and shipping, including shipbuilding disputes and disputes under MOAs.
Charles also has extensive experience in civil fraud cases, including cases involving fraud in the banking and shipping sectors. He is instructed in applications for urgent relief arising out of fraud claims.
- Halliburton v Chubb (2019): acting for LCIA in application to intervene in Supreme Court in case relating to apparent bias on the part of an arbitrator.
- RJ v HB  EWHC 2958 (Comm): acted for respondents to application under s 68 Arbitration Act, alongside application to remove arbitrator, based on breach of natural justice.
- Orascom Tmt Investments SARL v Veon Ltd  EWHC 985 (Comm): acted for respondents to application under s 68 Arbitration Act, based on failure to deal with all the issues.
- ICC arbitration (2018): acting for private equity investor in high value, complex and multi-jurisdictional dispute.
- ICC arbitration (2016–2018): acting for claimants in high value, complex commodities and shipping arbitration proceedings seated variously in London, Zurich and Paris.
- Ad hoc arbitration (2016-2018): acting for claimants in a high value claim for claims leakage in relation to a book of liability insurance.
- ICC arbitration (2017): acted for claimants in high value claim arising out of private equity investment in Nigeria, raising numerous regulatory and currency conversion issues.
- Axa Versicherung v Arab Insurance Group  EWCA Civ 96: acted for appellants in appeal raising issues as to the correct test for inducement in a case involving allegations of non-disclosure.
- Pan Oceanic v UNIPEC  EWHC 2774 (Comm): acted for claimants in high value claim for brokerage involving allegations of tortious interference and conspiracy.
- Great Elephant v Trafigura  EWCA Civ 905: acted for respondents in appeal relating to construction of force majeure clauses.
- Lomas v Firth Rixson  EWCA Civ 419: acted for appellants in leading case on construction of ISDA Master Agreement.
He regularly appears in high value international commercial arbitrations, involving a great range of issues, and before a great variety of arbitral tribunals (in particular LCIA, ICC and LMAA).
He also accepts appointments as arbitrator. He has been appointed in references under a variety of rules, including LCIA, ICC and DIAC.
He is recommended as a leading silk in international arbitration in both Chambers and The Legal 500 directories.
Recent arbitrations and related proceedings include:
- RJ v HB  EWHC 2958 (Comm): acted for respondents to application under s 68 of the Arbitration Act, alongside application to remove arbitrator, based on breach of natural justice.
- Orascom Tmt Investments SARL v Veon Ltd  EWHC 985 (Comm): acted for respondents to application under s 68 of the Arbitration Act, based on failure to deal with all the issues.
- ICC arbitration (2018): acting for private equity investor in billion dollar, complex and multi-jurisdictional dispute.
- ICC arbitration (2016–2018): acting for claimants in US$250 million, complex commodities and shipping arbitration proceedings seated variously in London, Zurich and Paris.
- Ad hoc arbitration (2016-2018): acting for claimants in a high value (over US$50 million) claim for claims leakage in relation to a book of liability insurance.
- ICC arbitration (2017): acted for claimants in high value (over US$50 million) claim arising out of private equity investment in Nigeria, raising numerous regulatory and currency conversion issues.
- Enforcement case (2017): acted for party resisting enforcement of US$1.2 billion award on grounds of illegality and public policy.
He has lectured on the Arbitration Act 1996, in particular on appeals under s.68 and s.69. He has extensive experience of settling applications for permission to appeal, and has acted in numerous appeals under s.67, s.68 and s.69. Those appeals include:
- RJ v HB  EWHC 2958 (Comm), Baker J.
- Orascom v Veon Ltd  EWHC 985 (Comm), Baker J.
- Glencore International v PT Tera Logistic Indonesia  EWHC 82 (Comm), Knowles J.
- Geden v Dry Bulk  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 66, Popplewell J.
- Cottonex v Patriot  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 615, Hamblen J.
- Louis Dreyfus v Carboex  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 177, Field J. and C/A.
- Cobelfret v Smissmarine  1 Lloyd’s Rep 317, Beatson J.
- Gulf Import & Export v Bunge  1 Lloyd’s Rep 316, Flaux J.
- Miranos International Trading v VOC Steel  Cooke J.
- Continental Enterprises v Shandong Zhucheng  EWHC 92, Steel J.
- Swissmarine Corp v Frontier Shipping  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 390, Nigel Teare QC.
- Louis Dreyfus v Reliance Trading  2 Lloyd’s Rep.243, Andrew Smith J.
- Cameroon Airlines v Transnet  EWHC 1829, Langley J.
He has extensive experience in civil fraud cases. He has particular experience of cases involving fraud in the banking and shipping sectors. He also has extensive experience of applications for urgent relief arising out of fraud claims. He has lectured on Chabra freezing injunctions.
He is a member of the Fraud Lawyers Association (FLA).
Recent cases (2013-2017) include the following:
- Acting for claimants in a multi-jurisdiction, billion dollar private equity dispute involving numerous allegations of fraud.
- Acting for a defendant in a Commercial Court claim by a sovereign wealth fund for the misappropriation/loss of US$80 million by a hedge fund (FM Capital v Marino and Bessot, see The Times, 20/6/16).
- Acting for the defendant in a Commercial Court claim for the misappropriation of US$400 million under a forex trading platform (Ikon Finance Ltd).
- Advising a defendant to bribery allegations in relation to production orders and other disclosure issues.
- Advising a defendant in relation to claims for US$245 million by regulators for market misconduct.
- Acting for the liquidators of a hedge fund in a High Court claim for the fraudulent misappropriation of US$50 million under a Ponzi scheme.
- Acting for the defendant in a Commercial Court claim for US$15 million for conspiracy arising out of the conduct of arbitration proceedings.
- Acting for the claimant in a Commercial Court claim for conspiracy relating to the payment of charter commission to brokers.
- Acting for a defendant in an arbitration involving allegations that bills of lading were fraudulently issued.
Banking, company law and financial services
He has been involved in numerous cases involving banking and investment disputes, company law and financial services (including regulatory issues).
Recent cases (2013-2017) include the following:
- Advising for a private equity investor in a billion dollar dispute involving proceedings in numerous jurisdictions.
- Acting for a private equity investor in a dispute under an SHA (and associated documents) relating to substantial investments in a pensions business in Africa.
- Acting for the claimant in a claim under an SHA relating to oil concessions in Africa (involving allegations of unfair prejudice).
- Advising a bank in relation to the liability of sponsors to creditors under a bible of documents including a sponsor support deed.
- Acting for various major banks in claims against Italian local authorities for declarations relating to the validity of interest rate swaps, currency swaps and credit default swaps.
- Advising a defendant in relation to substantial claims by regulators in Hong Kong for market misconduct.
- Acting for claimants in a claim for various remedies under a bible of documents centred around a defeased tax lease.
- Acting for a bank in successfully seeking declarations that a refund guarantee was void for illegality.
- Acting for a hedge fund in an investment dispute relating to a portfolio of sub-prime Polish debt.
- Advising liquidators of a hedge fund in relation to the misappropriation of funds under a Ponzi scheme.
- Advising liquidators of a hedge fund as to remedies against directors for disposing of assets at an undervalue.
- Advising a bank as to the applicable law of claims under various financial instruments.
- Advising various entities on the construction of put, call, tag and drag and other options in various joint venture agreements.
- Advising a venture capital entity on debt subordination and associated issues.
- Acting for the OPEC Fund for International Development in an arbitration claim under a put option for the sale of shares.
He has particular experience in derivatives on which he has lectured. He has been involved in many of the leading cases raising questions as to the construction of ISDA 92. He represented the successful claimants in Pioneer Freight Futures v TMT (No.1)  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 96 (Gloster J), and in Pioneer Freight Futures v TMT (No.2)  2 Lloyd’s Rep 565 (Gloster J). These cases involved the construction of the Loss and netting provisions under ISDA 92.
He also represented the successful appellants in the Court of Appeal in the leading case on ISDA 92 involving Lehmans and numerous other parties: Lomas v Firth Rixson  2 lloyd’s Rep 548. The case concerned the construction of s.2(a)(iii), and various other provisions under ISDA 92.
Recently he has advised on numerous issues arising under ISDA 92 relating to FFAs in the OW Bunkers litigation.
Other experience in derivatives includes representing traders in an important dispute involving when a derivatives contract is concluded when parties are screen trading, and a dispute as to what constitutes a netting agreement, and the application of the anti-deprivation principle (Armada v FMG, Steel J). He has also acted for several major banks in claims for declarations against Italian local authorities as to the validity of various swaps.
Other banking experience
He has experience in regulatory disputes, and has recently advised a defendant in relation to claims by regulators for market misconduct (including issues relating to the “fraud on the market” principle). He has appeared before the City Disputes Panel in a case involving allegations of breach of duty by a company in the provision of investment services, and has acted for a large financial institution in defending allegations of market manipulation on the IPE.
Other examples include advising in cases involving the liability of directors for knowing assistance in a breach of trust, and cases involving tracing remedies available to a company following breaches of trust. He has advised a global banking institution following the misappropriation of funds by a rogue trader, and has advised a major multi-national following the fraudulent misappropriation of share certificates.
He has acted in numerous cases involving futures and options, in particular arising out of the assessment of damages in commodities transactions, and has also represented a major city institution in a dispute as to the terms of a contract on a futures exchange.
He has also been involved in numerous cases involving guarantees, including Golden Ocean v Salgaocar  1 Lloyd’s Rep 542.
He has acted in many arbitrations and court disputes involving commodities.
He has acted in numerous disputes arising out of the collapse of the markets in late 2008, and many of the cases have involved issues relating to damages and hedging.
He has been involved in cases involving most commodities (including, e.g. crude oil, VGO, LPG, zinc, copper, aluminium, sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, cotton, sugar, soybeans, grains etc), and he has particular experience in cases involving petroleum products.
Reported cases include:
- Cottonex v Patriot  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 615, Hamblen J.
- Great Elephant v Trafigura  2 Lloyd’s Rep 503, (Teare J.),  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 1 (C/A)
- Continental Enterprises v Shandong Zhucheng  EWHC 92, Steel J.
- Louis Dreyfus v Reliance Trading  2 Lloyd’s Rep.243, Andrew Smith J.
- North Sea Energy Holdings v Petroleum Authority of Thailand  2 Lloyd’s Rep.418,  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 483 (C/A).
Conflicts of laws
He regularly advises on issues of jurisdiction arising in all areas of commercial law (including banking, reinsurance, shipping, commodities etc). He has particular experience in advising on the effects of jurisdiction and arbitration clauses, and has obtained and advised upon the availability of anti-suit injunctions in the Commercial Court on the basis of such clauses.
Recent cases include Pan Oceanic v UNIPEC  EWHC 2774 on the applicable law for tortious interference claims under Rome II.
Other experience includes acting for the successful applicants in CH Offshore v PDVM  EWHC 1939, which considered the conflict between jurisdiction clauses and the “necessary and proper party” regime.
Cases involving anti-suit injunctions include Star Reefers v JFC No1  EWHC 3003,  EWCA Civ 14. He has also obtained anti-anti-suit injunctions. In addition he successfully resisted a jurisdiction challenge in Star Reefers v JFC No2  2 Lloyd’s Rep.215 (Andrew Smith J). He also appeared in Golden Ocean v SMI  EWHC 56,  EWCA Civ 265, involving jurisdiction issues relating to a contract of guarantee.
Other reported cases include Import Export Metro v CSAV  1 Lloyd’s Rep.11 on forum non conveniens and non-exclusive jurisdiction clauses in bills of lading.
Insurance and reinsurance
He has acted for the insured or insurers in many insurance and reinsurance disputes.
He recently appeared for reinsurers in the Court of Appeal in Axa v ARIG  EWHA Civ 96 (and  EWHC 1939), involving non-disclosure to treaty reinsurers of historic loss statistics, and the effect of delay on the right to avoid.
Other recent cases between 2013 and 2017 include the following:
- Acting for claimants in a US$65 million claim for claims leakage in relation to a book of liability insurance.
- Acting for insurers in a dispute relating to what constitutes a partial or temporary repair with the meaning of the Marine Insurance Act.
- Acting for reinsurers in relation to claims under a QS treaty, and whether the reinsured was in breach of a net retention warranty.
- Acting for the insured in relation to a claim under credit default insurance for charter hire, and whether the policy could be avoided for non-disclosure.
- Acting for insurers relating to a claim for the total loss of a rig in Russian waters.
- Acting for liquidators in relation to a claim against insurers under the Third Party (Rights Against Insurers) Act.
He acted for reinsurers in the film finance litigation. He has extensive experience of cases arising out of facultative obligatory cover, and in particular cases involving allegations of non-disclosure (of claims history/moral hazard etc), affirmation/waiver and breaches of warranty. He has also acted in cases involving the practice of net underwriting, double insurance, and cases involving follow the leader and follow the settlements clauses. He has also been involved in a number of disputes involving brokers. Commercial Court trials include Brockbank v Reliance (Steel J.) raising questions of the legal nature of lineslips, and NIGC v Russell Tudor Price  Lloyd’s Rep. IR 249 involving allegations of negligent broking.
Other commercial court trials include American International Marine v Dandridge  EWHC 829 (Comm)  Lloyd’s Rep I.R 643, and see Insurance Law Monthly, January 2006, Volume 18, involving the incorporation of terms into a reinsurance contract, and a six week trial between Axa v New Hampshire (Morison J.) involving numerous issues including the effect under a reinsurance contract of a foreign judgment on the liability of the original assured. He appeared in Talbot v NHM  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 195, in which the Court of Appeal considered the question of who was covered under a BAR policy, and considered the question of whether an undisclosed principal could intervene in the contract.
He also appeared at 1st instance and in the Court of Appeal in Limit No.2 Limited v Axa Versicherung AG  Lloyd’s Rep IR 330, which involved allegations that the re-assured had misrepresented its intentions and current underwriting practice, and raised issues as to how risks were ceded to a fac/oblig treaty.
Energy and natural resources
He has appeared in numerous cases involving energy and natural resources, and has particular experience in the petroleum and natural gas industries.
Recent cases between 2013 and 2017 include the following:
- Acting for a JV partner in a billion dollar shareholder dispute relating to the operation of a Nigerian OML.
- Acting for drill rig owners in a US$80 million claim for stand-by costs.Acting for BP in a case involving a JV agreement relating to the import of LNG into the UK.
- Acting for the claimant in a US$120 million claim for an agency fee relating to the sale of a Nigerian offshore oil concession.
- Acting for a South African claimant in a US$20 million dispute under a JV relating to a Nigerian oil operating licence, and the effect of governmental interference.
- Acting for a Nigerian claimant in a high value dispute under a JV relating to the development of an oil terminal in Nigeria.
- Acting for sellers in a dispute arising out of delays caused by governmental intervention in the loading of crude at a Nigerian port (Great Elephant v Trafigura  EWCA 905).
- Acting for buyers in a dispute relating to the contamination of a cargo of HSFO at Gibraltar.
- Acting for buyers in a dispute arising out of sellers’ failure to deliver various shipments of Australian coal.
- Acting for various entities in various multi-million dollar disputes relating to the charter of various offshore platforms/rigs (e.g., CH Offshore v PDVM  EWHC 1939).
- Acting for buyers in a US$20 million dispute relating to the contamination of zinc, lead and bulk concentrates, causing production problems at an Indian smelter.
- Acting for sellers in a dispute relating to the alleged contamination of sulphuric acid produced by an Indian smelter.
- Acting for various shipowners in claims against various Indian charterers for failure to ship numerous shipments of coal under long-term COAs.
He has extensive experience in all kinds of shipping disputes, including numerous disputes under charterparties, bills of lading and MOA’s.
Recent examples in 2017 include a two week arbitration relating to a tank rupture on a vessel calling at an Indonesian port. He has also been heavily involved in the OW Bunkers litigation.
Recent reported cases include Pan Oceanic v UNIPEC  EWHC 2774 on brokers’ rights to commission under a long term COA which was repudiated, FSL-9 PTE Ltd v Norwegian Hull Club  EWHC 1091 on the meaning of a liberty to apply provision in an LOI, Glencore International v PT Tera Logistics  EWHC 82 on time bars under floating crane contracts, CH Offshore v PDVM  EWHC 1939 on long term COAs, Geden v Dry Bulk  2 Lloyd’s Rep. 66 on the effects of refusing to follow charterers’ orders (and piracy issues), and Great Elephant v Trafigura  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 1 (C/A) on force majeure clauses.
Other cases include Waterfront Shipping v Trafigura  1 Lloyd’s Rep 286 on demurrage time bars, and he represented charterers in “The Silver Constellation” arbitration, which subsequently went to appeal and is reported at  2 Lloyd’s Rep 440. He acted for charterers in Cobelfret v Swissmarine  1 Lloyd’s Rep 317 (Beatson J.) relating to the incorporation of terms into a charterparty recap, and in Golden Ocean v SMI  EWHC 56, Christopher Clarke J., involving the liability of guarantors to a charterparty. He successfully represented charterers in an appeal relating to a strike clause in an AMWELSH charter: Louis Dreyfus v Carboex  2 Lloyd’s Rep.177. He also represented the claimants in the Star Reefers litigation, involving substantial claims under two contracts of guarantees. Judgments in that litigation include Star Reefers v JFC No1  EWHC 3003 (Teare J), Star Reefers v JFC No2  2 Lloyd’s Rep.215 (Andrew Smith J), Star Reefers v JFC No3  EWHC 1166 (Burton J), and Star Reefers v JFC No4  EWHC 2204 (HH Judge Chambers QC).
Earlier cases include The Berge Sisar (2002) All ER (D) 138 on the carriage of LPG, Stocznia Gdanska v Latvian Shipping Co  1 Lloyd’s Rep.537 arising out of a contract for the construction of six ships and involving allegations of conspiracy and inducing a breach of contract, Southampton Container Terminals v Hansa  2 Lloyd’s Rep.491 involving the assessment of damages following damage to a crane, Fyffes Group v Reefer Express Lines  2 Lloyd’s Rep.171 raising issues of seaworthiness and damages, Swissmarine Corp. v Frontier Shipping  1 Lloyd’s Rep. 390 on strike clauses, and Miranos International Trading v VOC Steel (Cooke J.) on damages for early redelivery.
General commercial litigation
In addition to advising upon the specialised areas of commercial law identified above, he has acted in many disputes involving general principles of commercial law. He is regularly recommended in directories as a leading barrister in this category; comments include that he is “deeply analytical”, “highly polished” and a silk who “can be parachuted into a difficult case to argue attractively and skilfully”.
- Representing various entities in numerous JV disputes, including several cases involving put, tag and drag options. Other JV disputes include a dispute arising out of a JV for the supply of goods and services in Afghanistan, a JV for the development of a port in Nigeria, a JV relating to pension management in Africa, and various JVs relating to various OMLs in Nigeria.
- Successfully defending a US$2.7 billion claim for breach of an alleged agreement to develop an innovative oil spill recovery technique, and acting for a major international airline in a case arising out of a substantial contract alleged to have been procured by bribery. Other examples include a claim for an indemnity under a “knock for knock” clause in an agreement for the supply of personnel for offshore platform work.
- Advising on a large pollution claim in the Ivory Coast and on issues arising out of the Stone + Rolls litigation. He has also recently advised on an accountant’s negligence claim worth several billion pounds.
- Representing the claimants in the Factortame litigation over the course of 2-3 years, appearing in R v Secretary of State for Transport ex parte Factortame  1 WLR 942 in which the Court considered the nature of a breach of EC law for the purposes of limitation, and in R v Secretary of State for Transport ex parte Factortame  All ER (D) 1174 on the practice of making Part 36 offers.
He also has extensive experience of obtaining interim relief, including freezing injunctions, interim injunctions, anti-suit injunctions, and anti-anti-suit injunctions.