Landmark Chambers International

Charles Banner QC

Year of call: 2004

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Practice Summary

Charles Banner is Deputy Head of Landmark International. He was called to the Bar of England & Wales in 2004 and also has rights of audience in Northern Ireland (called 2010), the Dubai International Finance Centre Courts (Part II Registered since 2015), the Singapore International Commercial Court (Full​ Registered Foreign Lawyer since 2017) and the Astana International Finance Centre Courts (Registered since 2018).​ He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (with an Advanced Certificate in International Arbitration), an Associate Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators and an ADR Group Accredited Mediator. He is based in London but practices internationally. His appointment as Queen’s Counsel was announced in January 2019 and will take effect on 11 March 2019.

Charles has a broad and versatile practice covering a wide range of areas of law, falling principally within the following sectors:

  1. Development & infrastructure  (principally in the energy, transport and residential sectors) – including the planning/development consent process and all aspects of planning law, environmental and other regulation, project finance, contracts & procurement, commercial dispute resolution and compulsory acquisition. 
  2. Government & regulation – including all aspects of public sector & state activity, administrative & constitutional law, EU law, human rights, economic sanctions, environmental law, healthcare, public procurement, state aid & competition, regulatory law and international trade & investment law.

Charles regularly acts as lead or sole counsel in complex and demanding litigation, arbitration and public inquiries, both for commercial/private clients and for NGOs and public authorities. He is a member of the UK Attorney General's A Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown, in which capacity he represents the UK Government in some of its most challenging and high profile cases in the domestic courts and internationally. He regularly works with experts in other professional fields and was recently appointed an Independent Non-Executive Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' UK and Ireland Regulatory Sub-Board (effective April 2018).  The 2019 edition of Chambers UK Bar states: “He is a very good example of a 21st century member of the Bar and is an exceptional, commercial barrister”.

Recognition includes:

  • Top ranked junior in the planning sector (including infrastructure) in all three lead UK directories: Legal 500 UK Bar 2018,  Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2019 and Planning Magazine Legal Survey 2018.
  • Ranked as a leading junior by Legal 500 UK Bar 2017 and/or Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2018 in 7 other areas: administrative & public law, civil liberties & human rights, energy, environment, European law, local government and public procurement.
  • Winner of ‘UK Planning Barrister of the Year’, Lawyer Monthly Legal Awards 2018.
  • Winner of 'Environment and Planning Junior of the Year', Chambers UK Bar Awards 2017.
  • Shortlisted for ‘Real Estate, Environment and Planning Junior of the Year’, Legal 500 UK Bar Awards 2017.

Experience includes:

  • 100+ public inquiries and examinations into major development/infrastructure projects.
  • 100+ reported court cases.
  • 16 appeals in the UK Supreme Court / House of Lords, including 2 as lead or sole counsel.
  • 13 cases before the European Union Courts (Court of Justice & General Court), including 10 as sole counsel for the United Kingdom.
  • 9 cases before the UNECE Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, including 7 as sole or lead counsel.
  • 3 cases before the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Appearances before UK Parliament Select Committee Hearings on major infrastructure proposals.

Alongside his private practice at the Bar, Charles holds the following non-executive board positions:

  • Independent Member, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors UK and Ireland Regulatory Sub-Board (from April 2018).
  • Independent Member, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (from December 2017).
  • UK Member, European Union Fundamental Rights Agency Management Board (from September 2017).

His international work covers the following areas (please see the sub-headings below for more details):

  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Economic sanctions
  • Public international law and appearing in international tribunals
  • Privy Council appeals
  • Consultancy

Commercial dispute resolution

Charles is particularly experienced in dealing with commercial disputes involving infrastructure, energy projects, urban development and/or real estate (the sectors which are the primary focus of his award-winning UK practice) as well as investors-state arbitration (in which his expertise in disputes between the private sector and the state is of particular value). He has worked on many substantial commercial disputes in the London Commercial Court, Chancery Division and Queen’s Bench Division. He has also rights of audience in relation to such disputes in the Dubai International Finance Centre Courts, the Singapore International Commercial Court and the Astana International Finance Centre court.  In 2008 he undertook a secondment to Mayer Brown JSM in Hong Kong, working on commercial dispute resolution in the real estate, construction and urban development sectors. He has maintained strong professional and personal links with Hong Kong subsequently.

An increasing proportion of his work involves arbitration, both within the UK and overseas. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (with an Advanced Certificate in International Arbitration) and the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators, as well as an ADR Group accredited mediator. In 2015 he was one of the speakers at a conference on Hong Kong’s new land premium arbitration scheme. He was subsequently a speaker at Landmark International’s Investment Treaty Arbitration and Real Estate conference in Hong Kong in June 2016. 

Recent commercial dispute resolution experience includes:

  • A £10m+ Commercial Court claim relating to alleged contamination in food supplied to one of the largest commercial pig farms in the UK (2018-ongoing).
  • Arbitration proceedings concerning the interpretation of a contract concerning the maintenance and repair of the tidal defence gates at a major UK harbour (2017-ongoing).
  • Acting for a well-known care services provider in a £multi-million contractual dispute with a NHS regional clinical commissioning group over the interpretation of a contract for the provision of health services to NHS patents, in expert determination proceedings before a former Supreme Court judge (2017-ongoing).
  • A multi-jurisdictional commercial dispute concerning alleged breaches of warranty and misrepresentation in the context of co-operation agreements entered into with China National Petroleum Company for the exploitation of mineral resources in China (2016-ongoing).
  • Minerva (Wandsworth) Ltd v. Greenland Ram (London) Ltd [2017] EWHC 1457 (Ch) – acting for the Greenland Group in the 13-day Chancery Division trial of a £multi-million claim relating to overage provisions in a contract for the £135m purchase of the Ram Brewery development site in Wandsworth.
  • Manchester Ship Canal Company Ltd. v. Environment Agency [2017] EWHC 1340 (QB) – a £13 million claim against the Environment Agency under a contract agreed in 1963 by the Manchester Ship Canal Company and the Mersey River Board (a predecessor of the EA) and subsequently confirmed in Schedule 2 of the Mersey River Board Act 1964. MSCC claimed damages under the contract in respect of flood damage caused to the Manchester Ship Canal during the high profile, extreme Boxing Day Floods of 2015. Acted for the EA in its successful application for summary judgment. 

Economic sanctions

Charles has a growing practice in the law relating to economic sanctions imposed by the UN, the EU and domestic law. His expertise in EU law, human rights and international law makes him well placed to handle the overlaps between these areas which sanctions cases regularly involve. 

He is the co-author of an influential article on the implications for the relationship between EU law and ECHR law of the litigation relating to the impoundment of an aircraft in Ireland pursuant to the EU sanctions against the former Yugoslav regime: Human rights review of State acts performed in compliance with EC law: Bosphorus Airways v. Ireland (2005) EHRLR 649. In the recent past he has regularly advised the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (part of Her Majesty’s Treasury) both on specific cases and on general matters of interpretation of the EU sections regime.

His recent work in this field includes:

  • Case T-715/14 NK Rosneft a.o. v. European Council ELCI:EU:T:2018:544 & Joined Cases T-735/14 & T-799/15 Gazprom Neft v. European Council ELCI:EU:T:2018:548 – proceedings before the EU General Court in which the Russian energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom sought the annulment of EU sanctions targeted at the Russian oil sector in the light of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine (Council Decision 2014/659/CFSP as amended and Council Regulation (EU) 833/2014 as amended). Sole counsel for the United Kingdom, whose submissions were endorsed by the General Court.
  • R (Ezz) v. HM Treasury  [2016] EWHC 1470 (Admin), relating to Council Regulation (EU) 270/2011 concerning restrictive measures directed at certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Egypt. The case related to the provision in Article 4(1)(b), which is common to all EU sanctions regulations, that funds may be released where it is determined that they are “intended exclusively for reasonable professional fees associated with the provision of legal services”. Sole counsel for HM Treasury, successfully defending the claims.
  • Advising the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation on issues relating to the sanctions imposed on the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.

Public international law & international tribunals 

Charles has acted in numerous cases relating to the interpretation of international treaties and principles of public international law, particularly in the fields of environmental law, human rights and economic sanctions. These include:

  • Regularly acting before the UNECE Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee in Geneva (click here for a full list). He has appeared in this forum for individuals bringing communications against States Parties, for the UK Government responding to communications, and for interested parties affected by communications. Highlights include ACCC/C/2009/40 (United Kingdom) on the circumstances in which the Convention applies to the acts of private parties and ACCC/C/2014/101 (European Union) on the division of responsibility between the EU and its Member States for implementing the Convention. He is the Editor of The Aarhus Convention – A Guide for UK Lawyers (Hart Publishing, 2015), the first book to be published concerning the implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the UK.
  • App. 71412/01 Behrami v France (2007) B.H.R.C. 477, on whether the European Court of Human Rights has jurisdiction to consider acts of peacekeeping forces established pursuant to a UN Security Council resolution.
  • App. 39174/15 Austin v. United Kingdom (2017) 65 E.H.R.R. SE16, on whether communications to the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee amount to an equivalent “procedure of international investigation or settlement” within the meaning of Article 35(2) ECHR, with the effect that the European Court of Human Rights does not have jurisdiction over the same subject matter.
  • R (E) v HM Treasury [2016] EWHC 1470 (Admin) on the interpretation of the international sanctions regime relating to members of the former Mubarak Government in Egypt
  • R (Al-Skeini) v Secretary of State for Defence [2008] 1 A.C. 153 (HL) on the extent to which, applying principles of public international law on the responsibility of states for acts outside their physical territory, the acts of the UK occupying forces in Basra during the aftermath of the Iraq war were within the UK’s “jurisdiction” for the purposes of Article 1 ECHR.
  • R (Atamewan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] 1 W.L.R. 1959, a test case relating to the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.
  • R (Shaheen) v. Secretary of State for Justice [2009] EWCA Civ 276 on the interpretation of the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

Privy Council appeals

Charles worked on numerous Privy Council appeals from the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and other common law jurisdictions whilst on secondment as a Judicial Assistant to the Law Lords in 2005-06. These ranged from commercial and property litigation to death penalty cases raising fundamental constitutional issues. He is highly experienced in dealing with second appeals of this nature, having appeared in 16 cases before the UK Supreme Court and House of Lords Appellate Committee (click here for full details).

Consultancy

Prior to becoming a barrister Charles worked in strategy consultancy at SMT Consulting (now part of the Cello Group) and as a Research Fellow at the think tank Policy Exchange, experiences which he is now able to draw upon when undertaking legal consultancy work both alone and in conjunction with consultancy firms, particularly in relation to constitutional and regulatory reforms where specialist legal expertise can add a useful perspective which mainstream consultancies may be unable to provide on their own. 

His experience in this field includes: 

  • Acting as part of a multi-disciplinary team of experts that advised the British Virgin Islands Government on the establishment of the BVI Commercial Court (a division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court) which opened in 2009.
  • Acting as an external consultant for the European Union Delegation in Cambodia in spring 2011, conducting an investigation on issues relating to the new system of land titling in Cambodia, which is partially funded by the EU.