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 25 years, and combines licensing and regulatory and public law work with contentious chancery/commercial and property matters. I am ranked by the independent legal directories as a leading practitioner.
What I do: Licensing, Regulatory, Disciplinary and Environmental
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 have since obtained licences for the Stack brand in several cities. In enforcement matters, 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, and have acted for the Metropolitan Police in several high profile reviews including those relating to Casa Cruz (following RIta Ora's lockdown party) and "TOWIE" favourite Melin Chigwell. 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 Ltd v. Transport for London (2018), Reading Borough Council v. Ali (2019), United Cabbies Group (London) v. Transport for London, Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association and Uber London Ltd (2019), Uber London Ltd v. Transport for London (2020). and Uber Britannia Ltd v. Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council (2023). 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 hackney carriage zones, vehicle standards, suspensions, driver disclosure and applications (including applications from App-based operators). I also have provided advice for App-based operators and hackney carriage intermediaries. 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 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 , and advised the Police in relation to the Vanity spiking review. Other sex licensing matters have included appearing for the applicant in R. v. Newcastle City Council (ex parte The Christian Institute) .
I act and advise in firearms (both for the police and certificate holders, as well as firearms dealers) and explosives matters, including acting for the local authority on the Romford "Fireworks4Sale" review arising out of the sale of fireworks used in a subsequent arson attack.
I act and advise in gambling matters, recently acting as a legal adviser to the licensing authority in a contentious casino variation application. 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, recently securing the withdrawal of a prosecution for failure to comply with a Housing Act 2004 notice to produce documents.
The scope of licensing is ever-expanding, and I am always interested in unusual licensing and regulatory fields, whether they concern (for some recent examples) CBD and cannabis, zoos, gangmasters, specialist tobacconists, swingers' clubs, psychoactive substances, cattle identification regulations, former fire engines converted into mobile hen party venues, late night pizza deliveries, security services, or any other statutory regulation of activities in the public interest.
I prosecute and defend regulatory offences: recent examples have included the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 and the Coronavirus Regulations.
My licensing work frequently engages data protection issues, including under the Environmental Information Regulations 2014 and UK GDPR.
Consideration of statutory nuisances, particularly noise nuisance, feature in my work. I represented the successful local authority respondent in R. (on the application of Susan Fisher) v. Durham County Council  EWHC 1277, where the Council's decision to issue an abatement notice in respect of a noise nuisance caused by an individual with involuntary vocalisation syndrome was attacked on the basis of alleged disability discrimination, breach of PSED, breach of human rights and irrationality. I have a particular interest in the defence of private prosecutions under s.82 of the Environmental Protection 1990.
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 and insolvency work concerns contractual disputes, building disputes, guarantees, mortgages and other security, restrictive covenants in employment contracts and confidential information. Intellectual property issues often feature. 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), conveyancing and related land disputes, and cases involving covenant and boundary issues. I was 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. Service charge issues frequently feature in my practice: I have advised a local authority as to the recoupment of the costs of cladding a tower block, and acted for a residents' management company faced with significant demands for contributions to flood defence works. I am currently representing the agency of foreign provincial state in relation to a charging order secured against its UK property in enforcement of an arbitration award against the state.
I am often instructed in property disputes concerning cohabitees and families.
Highways and highway law often feature in my property practice - I am currently acting in a dispute over the extent to which a sub-soil owner can control use of the highway, and advising another client in relation to issues caused by the closure of level crossings.
I have represented applicants and interested parties in village green inquiries. I advised a community group in their successful attempt to list a disused Methodist church as an asset of community value, arguing that first-instance case law that suggested religious user did not meet the statutory test was wrongly decided. I have advised an estate on the extent of its manorial rights and have advised in markets and fairs cases.
Some of property work involves a cross-over with public law: examples include advising a local authority in relation to the recoverability of costs for an emergency pull cord system in an extra care housing scheme, and representing a recognised tenants' association threatened with de-recognition and eviction from a community centre.
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, challenging a public procurement process for waste services, and advising on the response to changes to the Public Works Lending Board criteria.
Aside from local authority cases, I have recently been involved in a stakeholder's challenge to the lawfulness of the governance and management of a statutory harbour authority, including objecting to the making of a Harbour Revision Order and complaints under the Environmental Information Regulations 2014.
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 2023 (Licensing) "He has it all at his fingertips, he retains detail and knowledge of the law and you can ask him almost anything". "He is very approachable, client-friendly and very efficient". "He addresses matters before they arise"
Chambers UK 2023 (Commercial Dispute Resolution) "Charles is very thought and pays great attention to detail".
Chambers UK 2022 (Licensing) "Extremely knowledgeable about licensing matters". "Phenomenally bright". "He is very measured and personable and can be passionate but is always friendly and amiable".
Legal 500 2021 (Commercial Litigation) "He is very thorough, his attention to detail is great and he goes the extra mile. He is very reliable and his knowledge is outstanding".
Legal 500 2022 (Licensing) - "Charles' knowledge of licensing law is unsurpassed. He is an extremely intelligent and responsive barrister."
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.