Charles Béar QC
Charles Béar QC is considered one of the leading advocates of his generation. He has a broad commercial and civil practice, shown by his ranking in 5 areas in Chambers 2013. Charles specialises in:
- Commercial litigation;
- Judicial review and public law;
- High Court aspects of employment law.
Recommendations (Practitioners' Guides)
Recent directory and other comments
"An absolutely outstanding advocate, who is able to marshal massive sets of papers and isolate the issues in a case. His abilities are phenomenal." (Chambers and Partners 2013)
“Destined for greatness” Legal 500 2010
"A fantastic advocate, who is passionate about his cases and exceptionally bright" Chambers 2011
“overwhelmingly compelling submissions” (R (FCL) v Pembs CC, 22.12.10)
“probably the best cross-examination I’ve seen” – unsolicited testimonial, national firm litigation partner
Ranked by Legal Experts 2012
Described as an outstanding advocate, Charles Béar QC is currently ranked in five practice areas by Chambers and Partners Guide 2013:
Administrative & Public Law - “Charles Béar QC of Fountain Court Chambers, "an absolutely outstanding advocate, who is able to marshal massive sets of papers and isolate the issues in a case. His abilities are phenomenal."
Commercial dispute resolution: “Instructing solicitors say that Charles Béar QC is ‘Mr Injunction.’ He acted for Sainsbury's Bank on a conflict concerning the bank's right to market an insurance product not underwritten by esure.”
Employment (London)- “Charles Béar QC of Fountain Court Chambers is ‘approachable’ and a ‘good all-rounder,’ sources say."
Local Government (London) - “Charles Béar QC of Fountain Court Chambers is ‘absolutely superb’ according to local authority sources, and comes highly recommended by solicitors working in this area of practice. He is entrusted with extricating local authorities from legally difficult situations relating to procurement and has an impressive success rate."
Public Procurement (London) - “Charles Béar QC of Fountain Court Chambers is a prominent name in public law circles, and continues to consolidate his reputation in the field of public procurement. He was recently instructed by the NHS in an important judicial review challenge to its outsourcing arrangements."
Numerous High Court trials and injunction and other applications, in the Commercial Court, Chancery Division, Queen’s Bench Division and Cayman Grand Court; appellate work in the Court of Appeal and House of Lords; judicial reviews; other fora including disciplinary tribunals and employment tribunals; advisory work on major commercial transactions; advisory work on constitutional, finance and human rights issues affecting public authorities.
Much of Charles’s work is high-profile. In an era when litigation does not always fit easily into recognisable categories, he offers clients the benefits of a broad crossover perspective resulting from the combination of his experience in diverse practice areas.
Current and recent work
Representing Alpstream AG and other affiliates of the National Reserve Corporation, Russia, in a US$30m claim against GE Capital PK Airfinance arising out of the repossession and subsequent sale of 7 Airbus aircraft. Commercial Court trial commencing April 2013.
Represented the Association of British Insurers in resisting a judicial review brought by APIL and other claimant lawyers to overturn the Government's decision to reduce the fixed costs in personal injury litigation. The Divisional Court dismissed the judicial review and accepted the ABI's arguments on 1 March 2013.
Representing the first defendant in JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov and related proceedings in which sums in excess of US$5 billion are claimed.
Representing the claimants in obtaining wide-ranging springboard and other relief arising out of a team move in high-tech industry: Clear Edge v Elliott and others.
Represented the NHS in South West England in resisting a major judicial review challenge to its outsourcing and efficiency programme. The Administrative Court refused permission on the grounds of standing and delay: R (Unison) v Wiltshire PCT and others  ACD 84.
Advising a major UK corporate on a warranty claim arising out of a £1 billion acquisition.
Acted for easyJet in its regulatory challenge to the CAA over its five-year determination of Gatwick passenger charges ( ACD 19).
Past commercial work illustrates the breadth of his experience:
Represented Baxter Healthcare, one of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies, in its Chancery Division dispute with Kuros Biosurgery AG concerning a multi-hundred million dollar collaboration agreement, leading a team of 3 counsel. This was the latest in a significant body of pharmaceutical sector experience, including acting successfully for the defendant in Xytis Inc v London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Commercial Court, February 2010, believed to be the first-ever commercial dispute over an ongoing clinical trial; and successfully representing a leading UK university in disciplinary proceedings against a research doctor.
Led a team of 3 counsel to conduct an internal inquiry into the management of a massive contract involving an annual spend of several hundred million pounds. A 120-page report was completed on budget and on time.
Led for a major supermarket bank in its dispute with an insurance provider (Commercial Court, 2011).
Other work includes: the landmark restitutionary cases, Kleinwort Benson v Lincoln CC  AC 341 and Guinness Mahon v Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea  1 QB 1; fraud (AWG v Morrison  1 WLR 106); a disputed US$350m insolvency (HSH, Cayman Grand Court, 2010); representing the defendant in a US$100m claim on a loan facility and worldwide freezing order (2009); leading for the defendants in Sigma v Copeland, Commercial Court, 2008-09 (product liability on train fleet, settled globally after 2-day mediation in which Charles led the international team).
Charles, whose employment law directory entry for Chambers 2011 describes him as “constructively bullish”, also specialises in the contractual and equitable issues arising during and after employment. Before joining Fountain Court, he spent 18 years at 11 King’s Bench Walk. He was the originator of the now widely-used springboard injunction (Midas Group v Opus Group, Ch D, 21.12.99). He has acted or advised in well over 100 contested post-termination disputes involving restrictive covenants, confidentiality claims, IP issues, asset and information tracing, pre-emptive orders including freezing and search orders, and employee poaching (Cantor Fitzgerald v Bird  IRLR 852). He regularly deals with issues relating to bonuses and represented the employer in the leading case (Cantor Fitzgerald v Horkulak  ICR).
In public law, Charles Béar QC "knows how to pick a winning strategy” (Chambers 2011). Charles has extensive experience across the entire field of public law. Notable recent cases include acting for the ABI in resisting claimant lawyers' challenge to new fixed recoverable cost rates, representing the NHS in SW England in a major judicial review challenge to its outsourcing, successfully representing NICE in High Court challenges to its guidelines on ME and on treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and representing the local authorities in resisting challenges to age determinations brought by unaccompanied asylum-seekers. On the claimant side he acted for a group of care homes, successfully challenging the level of care fees in what the BBC described as a “landmark” decision (bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-12056305). The High Court ruled that the fees set were “logically indefensible”. He represented easyJet in its challenge to the Gatwick passenger charges for 2008/2013 (R (easyJet Airline) v Civil Aviation Authority  ACD 19).
His human rights work includes the Ablyazov litigation (above) on behalf of the first defendant in which he successfully persuaded the Court of Appeal to hear an appeal notwithstanding the defendant’s contempt  EWCA Civ 639 and went on to argue two further appeals concerning fair trial and bias issues  EWCA Civ 1411 and  EWCA Civ 1551. He argued HRA points successfully for the local authorities in the Court of Appeal in the test case of R (A) v Croydon LBC  PTSR 1011 and in R (Grant) v Lambeth LBC  1 WLR 1781.
He regularly advises on major public procurement issues where Chambers 2011 described him as “[having] long been a force to be reckoned with”. His successful result in R (Unison) v NHS Wiltshire  ACD 84 is now the leading case on the boundary between judicial review and public procurement challenges.
1st Class Honours in Jurisprudence at Magdalen College, Oxford 1982-85.
Member of COMBAR Executive