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, Regulatory and Planning
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'', ''Gresham'' and "Stack" matters in Newcastle. The Stack appeal, concerning a "pop up" shopping mall, in which my client was successful, was the subject of probably the most detailed decision from any magistrates' court under the Licensing Act 2003. I secured the revocation of the premises licence of Middlesbrough's Club Bongo International following a very serious assault by door staff on a customer. Conversely, I successfully avoided a revocation order being made in respect of my client's bar The Clock Tower in Stockton. 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 (part Jonathan Ruffer's plan to regenerate Bishop Auckland, being 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, unions, 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 . On the other side of the fence, I successfully appeared for Mr Henderson in Gateshead Council v. Henderson . I have acted in a series of cases involving the global operator, Uber, including Uber London Limited v. Transport for London (2018), Reading Borough Council v. Ali (2019) and United Cabbies Group (London) v. Transport for London, Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association and Uber London Limited (2019). I also appear in criminal cases involving prosecutions for offences under the regulatory scheme. 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 have recently appeared on panels with members of the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Licensing. I regularly write articles, give talks and host seminars on taxi licensing topics. I have a regular blog on the National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers website. I also advise and represent operators in relation to Traffic Commissioner matters.
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 . Other sex licensing matters have included appearing for the applicant in R. v. Newcastle City Council (ex parte The Christian Institute) . I have a particular interest in the interaction between sex licensing and human rights.
I act and advise in firearms (both for the police and certificate holders, as well as firearms dealers) and gambling matters. I have been involved in Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 applications arising out of illegal gambling, and successfully secured the abandonment of a prosecution and associated POCA application arising out of non-compliant bingo and lottery activities in a working men's club. I have 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, cattle identification regulations, former fire engines converted into mobile hen party venues, late night pizza deliveries, or any other state regulation of activities in the public interest.
As licensing becomes ever more entwined with planning I increasingly find myself providing advice on planning issues to licensing clients and others.
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. Intellectual property issues often feature in my commercial work. Cross-overs to licensing work include claims brought by the Premier League against public houses showing live football matches, and advising insurers in relation to taxi policies.
Company law matters undertaken include shareholder disputes and cases involving breach of statutory and fiduciary duties by directors and senior employees. I have recently been advising a football club on its internal corporate issues. 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. I acted for a large RSL in relation to the recoupment of costs from an abandoned regeneration project. 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 a dispute over whose duty it was to bury a dead body, 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. I acted for XY, the CHIS in the "Operation Sanctuary" prosecutions, in his judicial review of the decisions to disclose his identity to the defendants in the case: R (on the application of XY) v. Newcastle Crown Court, Chief Constable of Northumbria, DPP  EWHC 1872 (Admin) and then in relation to the subsequent abuse of process application where he was called as a witness.
What they say
Chambers UK 2020 (Licensing) "He is one of the top licensing barristers in the country" "He is an exceptional advocate with fantastic research skills. He gives 100% to every case to ensure the client has the absolute best chance of success".
Legal 500 2020 (Regulatory, Health and Safety and Licensing) "He has an eye for detail, is not afraid of challenging situations and has a commercial approach to clients' needs."
Legal 500 2020 (Commercial, Banking, Insolvency and Chancery law) - Band 1 leading junior, "a commercial approach".
Chambers UK 2019 (Licensing) "Very thorough and very proactive." "He has excellent knowledge in licensing."
Legal 500 2019 (Property) "‘An absolute terrier; the barrister to have on your side to dig you out of a hole.’
Legal 500 2019 (Licensing) "Very well known for his extensive expertise"
Chambers UK 2018 (Licensing) "An extremely effective advocate. Very practical and straight to the point." "He's very clever and won't leave a stone unturned."
Legal 500 2017 (Commercial, Banking and Insolvency) "‘He is an expert in the art of persuasion."
Legal 500 2017 (Property) "He is very detail-oriented."
Legal 500 2017 (Regulatory, Health and Safety and Licensing) "He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all aspects of licensing law.’
Chambers UK 2017 (Licensing) "Charles has a gift for dealing with the uncomfortable truth head on. 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 either through solicitors and other professional bodies licensed by the Bar Council, or, in appropriate cases, direct from the public (whether individuals or businesses) through Direct Access.
My contact details can be found on the contact page. 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.
Charles Holland -
Licensing law, chancery/commercial litigation and property.