Fountain Court retains its strong market presence in the international arbitration arena, and is recognised as a heavy-hitting commercial set. The "top-drawer, wonderful" advocates at the set offer expertise in a notably diverse spread of areas, including insurance, shopping and aviation. Their ability to act as counsel, sit as arbitrators or appear in enforcement litigation sees them regularly instructed by leading firmsChambers UK, 2014
The ‘very user-friendly’ Fountain Court Chambers attracts praise for its ‘very professional’ clerks, and its array of ‘bright and able barristers’.Legal 500, 2013
"A go-to set for complex commercial aviation litigation."Chambers UK, 2015
Fountain Court Chambers is considered by many to be ‘the go-to set’ for banking and finance litigation.Legal 500, 2013
Banking & finance
Fountain Court Chambers is 'an excellent set with real bench strength'.Legal 500, 2014
Insurance and reinsurance
Fountain Court Chambers is ‘a powerhouse for insurance and reinsurance work’.Legal 500, 2013
Insurance and reinsurance
Senior clerk Alex Taylor is "a banjo-thumping superstar"and "an example to all".Legal 500, 2014
Fountain Court Chambers is acknowledged as a leading civil fraud set, with "quality throughout." Its practitioners are particularly sought after to advise on civil fraud issues relating to banks, and regularly handle cases with cross-jurisdictional elements. Solicitors prize the set's forward-looking approach, describing its members as "game-changing barristers" who are "at the forefront of wherever commercial activity takes the law."Chambers UK, 2014
Charles Béar QC Call date: 1986 | Silk date: 2003
Charles Béar QC is recognised as one of the English Bar’s outstanding advocates.
“One of the problems in this case is Mr. Béar's powerful advocacy, which has caused me the greatest problem in this case, and that has been demonstrated today”
(Mr Justice Eder, Taberna v Selskabet, Commercial Court, 2015)
“I have grown familiar with the complete mastery of this case that Mr Béar has”
(Mr Justice Burton, Alpstream AG v PK AirFinance and GECAS, Commercial Court, 2013)
“He was on the other side and as soon as he opened his mouth I thought, ‘We’re going to get creamed’.” Chambers Guide 2015
“Supremely clever and extremely good with clients” Chambers Guide 2015
“An extremely clever and impressive advocate” Chambers Guide 2014
"Fiercely intelligent and great with clients" Commercial Dispute Resolution, Chambers Guide 2014
“Acutely intelligent and fiercely supportive” Public Procurement, Chambers Guide 2015
"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 Guide 2013
“A prominent name in public law circles” Chambers Guide 2013
"A fantastic advocate, who is passionate about his cases and exceptionally bright" Chambers Guide 2011
“Destined for greatness” Legal 500 2010
His practice is broad and includes a wide range of commercial litigation, fraud, shareholder disputes, judicial review, and public procurement. Charles is equally happy representing major institutions or private individuals.
His 2014/2015 caseload includes: acting for Standard Life in its £25m prospectus claim against former directors of subprime lender Cattles; acting for Alpstream (part of the CJSC National Reserve Corporation group) upholding its judgment for $10m damages for conspiracy against two divisions of GE; acting for Mukhtar Ablyazov in the proceedings brought against him by BTA Bank alleging $6 billion fraud; acting for Roskilde Bank in proceedings for misselling $27m loan notes; acting for HTC in defending proceedings brought by Nokia; advising a number of central UK Government departments and bodies on high profile matters; obtaining the first ever successful judicial review of a decision of the Financial Services Ombudsman; and representing one of the country’s leading Catholic secondary schools in overturning a finding that its admissions policies were socially selective.
Charles was called to the Bar in 1986, was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2003, and has sat as a Recorder on the South Eastern Circuit since 2003.
Charles Béar QC is considered one of the leading advocates of his generation. Specialising in:
Charles receives consistent praise from directories and clients, and in the words of Chambers UK “the judges just listen and respect him”. He is recommended in 5 different practice areas of the Chambers and Partners 2013 Bar guide:
- Commercial litigation
- Administrative and Public law
- Public procurement
- Local Government
Recent directory comments
"Fiercely intelligent and great with clients."
"An extremely clever and impressive advocate."
“An absolutely outstanding advocate, who is able to marshal massive sets of papers and isolate the issues in a case. His abilities are phenomonal.”
“Charles Béar QC of Fountain Court Chambers is ‘absolutely superb’ ... an impressive success rate.”
“A prominent name in public law circles.”
"He is a really effective courtroom performer - very bright and very robust."
"A brilliant advocate with a sharp mind and an excellent court manner."
(Chambers UK 2013 and 2014)
- 1st Class Honours in Jurisprudence at Magdalen College, Oxford 1982-85.
Appointments, memberships, prizes
- Member of COMBAR Executive
Administrative & public law
Charles’s advocacy skills stand him in equally good stead in public law work, attracting such comments as“overwhelmingly compelling submissions” (R (FCH) v Pembrokeshire (2011) 14 CCLR 103). His public law experience is extremely broad.
- He recently led for the Association of British Insurers in March 2013 successfully resisting a judicial review of the Government’s reforms to PI litigation  EWHC 1358 (Admin). The litigation resulted in a saving of £1m a day to the British public in claimant lawyer fees.
- He successfully represented the NHS in striking out a procurement challenge brought by the trade union Unison to a major outsourcing exercise: R (Unison) v NHS  ACD 84.
In procurement work he has been described by directories as “long been a force to be reckoned with” and “entrusted with extricating local authorities from legally difficult situations”.
- He successfully defended NICE against judicial review challenges to its national guidance: R (Bristol-Myers Squibb) v NICE  1 CMLR 31; R (Fraser) v NICE (2009) 107 BMLR 178.
- He acted for easyJet in its challenge to Gatwick passenger fees: R (easyJet) v Civil Aviation Authority  ACD 19.
Charles also has long experience of acting for local authorities in high profile litigation including unaccompanied asylum seekers, and attempted use of children’s legislation to obtain housing: R (A) v Lambeth  PTSR 1011 and R (G) v Barnet  2 AC 208.
Commercial dispute resolution
Charles Béar QC has recently scored a major victory in the Commercial Court against two divisions of one of the world’s largest conglomerates, General Electric (Alpstream AG v PK AirFinance and GECAS, 31 July 2013). After a 28-day hearing the Court ruled that GECAS and another subsidiary“had participated in a cover-up which continued through to the evidence”. Of the principal witness, the Judge concluded “He simply had no answer to Mr Béar’s cross-examination”. In a procedural ruling the Judge commented “I have grown familiar with the complete mastery of this case that Mr Béar has”. Damages of $10.1m were awarded for wilful misconduct as mortgagee, for conspiracy and knowingly inducing breach of contract. For press coverage, see Reuters and The Times.
Among other features of the trial, Charles obtained a rare procedural ruling that claims to legal privilege had been wrongly made by two prominent City law firms, the Judge holding that “I do not believe anyone who looked at it with a proper eye would have had difficulty in concluding that the privilege was not available”.
In other high-profile work, Charles has represented Kazakhstan banker and opposition politician Mukhtar Ablyazov in fraud claims totalling over US$5 billion. In an important ruling he obtained permission from the Court of Appeal to proceed with the case despite his client’s acknowledged contempt of court: JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov  EWCA Civ 639. Charles is currently instructed in an ongoing petition to the European Court of Human Rights against the Court of Appeal’s decision to strike out Mr Ablyazov’s defences for failure to disclose assets. Previous high-profile fraud work includes co-leading for the claimant in a £100m fraud claim arising out of the acquisition of a major property and construction group, AWG v Morrison  1 WLR 1163.
Charles has substantial experience in the life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors. In 2010 he represented Baxter Healthcare, one of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies, in a Chancery Division dispute with a Swiss biotech business concerning a multi-hundred million dollar R&D collaboration agreement. In 2008 he represented the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine defending a landmark Commercial Court dispute arising out of an ongoing clinical trial. After one week of trial the claimant withdrew, paid the defendant’s costs, and submitted to judgment on its counterclaim. In 2006 he represented another leading UK university in disciplinary proceedings against a research doctor resulting in numerous findings of serious misconduct in drugs trials. He also regularly advises on procurement and public body vires issues in this area, and has successfully represented the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Charles also has extensive litigation experience outside commercial law. He originated the modern springboard injunction (Midas Group v Opus Group, Ch D, 21 December 1999) and has appeared or advised in over 100 contested post-termination disputes involving restrictive covenants, confidentiality claims, IP issues, asset and information tracing, and freezing and search orders and other pre-emptive strikes.