Charles Raffin is a highly regarded commercial barrister specialising in the resolution of international and domestic commercial disputes through courts, arbitration, mediation and other forms of ADR.
Charles’ broad commercial and commercial/chancery practice encompasses civil fraud (with related contempt of court work), company/joint venture/partnership, CDR (including construction, franchising, sports and costs disputes), insolvency and trusts litigation. Charles advises and appears regularly in arbitration disputes under all the major international arbitral rules.
Recommended by Chambers & Partners UK and Global and Legal 500 for his onshore and offshore work, Charles is known as: "incredibly bright, responsive, detail-orientated and thorough", "very commercial, very sharp and a delight to work with", "a very effective advocate" and "excellent on every level".
Much of Charles’ work has a strong international edge. He is called to the Bar of the British Virgin Islands and acts regularly for clients based in, or involved in disputes in, jurisdictions including Europe, Russia, the Americas, the Caribbean (the BVI, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos), and the Far East, and he enjoys working with foreign counsel and experts of foreign law. Much of Charles’ work involves conflicts of laws, and he also acts as an expert on English law in foreign proceedings.
Charles’ experience at the Bar is enhanced by his three years as an Associate in the International Arbitration & Litigation Group of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP and then his later secondment with a major litigation funder.
Charles is co-author of Electronic Disclosure: Law & Practice (OUP) and a regular speaker at online and in person national and international conferences and seminars (including at the Chancery Bar Winter Conference, various English-Cypriot Law Days, the Legal Business International Arbitration Summit and CDR Autumn Arbitration Symposium). A member of the Middle Temple International Sub-Committee, Charles has assisted and advised civil rules committees in various jurisdictions over pending amendments to rules concerning discovery/disclosure.
Areas of expertise
- Commercial dispute resolution
- Commercial litigation
Charles is a leading commercial junior and recommended for commercial dispute resolution in both Chambers & Partners UK and Global as well as Legal 500. He is also recommended for his offshore and related insolvency work.
He advises and acts in a wide range of commercial and corporate matters and has niche expertise in handling agency, commodity, franchising and sports disputes as well as claims involving financial instruments and guarantees. Charles has particular strength in cases involving shareholders and directors, often involving issues of insolvency.
Much of his practice is international and he regularly advises on issues such as conflicts of law, governing law and jurisdiction, injunctive relief, the enforcement of domestic and foreign orders and awards and asset preservation. He is often chosen for his ability to handle related insolvency, trust and insurance issues.
Recent instructions include:
- For defendant investors in an international motor racing team.
- For the management company of a signature Caribbean resort in a US$ multi-million dispute concerning control. Issues involve the ownership and operation of Strata Corporation Structures and nature/scope of duties owed by managing agents.
- For investors in a large commodities investment fund as well as the liquidator in US$ multi-million claims against Fund’s former directors and investment administrators involving allegations of deceit, conspiracy, breach of trust and fiduciary duty.
- Advising the Crown and Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands in USD$ very high value disputes with a Global Resorts Group.
- Acting for Global Brand clients, including the All England Lawn Tennis Club (Wimbledon Championships) and Chelsea Football Club, in the High Court and Court of Appeal in their work to combat £multi-million ticket fraud and related contempt of court proceedings.
- High value breach of contract/fiduciary duty/trust and unjust enrichment claim relating to exploitation of a market leading invention.
- Acting in HKIAC arbitration proceedings over alleged guarantee provided in connection with the construction of a celebrated super yacht for an UHNW individual.
- Acting for a national franchisor in a £million dispute against a former franchisee and others.
- Bahamas seated arbitration acting for a contractor in a USD$ multi-million dispute with a sub-contractor arising from the construction of luxury villas off the coast of Florida.
- Appearing for various constructors in appeals to the RACB Motor Racing National Court of Appeal in Brussels. Charles also acts for regulatory bodies, sports teams and clubs as well as individual sports persons. He works in various sporting disciplines including athletics, football, motorsports (from F1 through to JSCC junior racing), tennis and rugby union.
- Civil fraud
Charles has particular expertise in commercial fraud and asset recovery cases, acting for both claimants seeking to recover the proceeds of fraud and defending those directly and indirectly involved in allegedly fraudulent activity. He has been recommended for a number of years in Chambers & Partners UK and Global as a leading Chancery Commercial practitioner, as well as enjoying recognition in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 for his commercial, Insolvency and Offshore work.
Much of Charles’ work involves acting in very high value disputes covering disputes involving natural and corporate trustees; disputes over and around company ownership and control; and claims concerning agents, directors and other corporate officers as well as related third parties.
Many of his cases are cross-border, with competing governing laws, jurisdictions and/or domestic and international injunctive relief. Of particular note, Charles has a related specialism in Civil Contempt of Court work.
Charles is a regular speaker on the topic of fraud (including at the Bar Council’s annual English-Cypriot Law Days) and, as the author of OUP’s Electronic Disclosure: Law & Practice, related issues in respect of disclosure.
Recent instructions of note include:
- For a US concern in USD$ multi-million ICC fraud proceedings around the failed supply of commodities from Africa.
- For investors in a failed commodities investment fund and its liquidator in US$ multi-million claims against, among others, the Fund’s former directors and investment administrators arising out of a multi-jurisdictional fraud.
- In a US$ multi-million fraud claim spanning multiple jurisdictions including the Turks & Caicos Islands and Florida involving multiple allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and trust in connection with various share transfers.
- In £multi-million claims involving breach of contract/fiduciary duty/trust and claims of unjust enrichment in relation to the alleged misappropriation of a market leading invention.
- Acting for Global Brand clients including the All England Lawn Tennis Club (Wimbledon Championships) and Chelsea Football Club in the High Court and Court of Appeal in their work to combat £multi-million ticket fraud and related contempt of court proceedings.
- For an investment advisory company, now in liquidation, in relation to various multi-jurisdictional claims against former directors for breach of fiduciary/statutory duty (including the diversion of funds and business opportunities).
- Acting for defendant directors in a £multi-million action brought by company liquidators involving allegations of VAT fraud, fraudulent and wrongful trading.
- Acting for the successful party in USD$1bn+ arbitral proceedings against a lender including multiple claims for breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the disposal of security.
Charles’ work in this area includes contempt of court applications as well as allegations of dishonesty, deceit, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, forgery, theft, bribery and conspiracy. His insolvency experience is invaluable and essential in handling claims involving insolvency organisations.
- Commercial arbitration
Charles advises on all aspects of domestic and international arbitration, from initial advisory work on global tactics; through jurisdictional challenges and related domestic proceedings; on interim relief (in Courts/Tribunals); in connection with the underlying dispute and acting as advocate; in connection with appeals; and with the ultimate enforcement of orders and awards.
His work includes arbitrations under a wide range of domestic arbitral regimes including those of the UK, Switzerland, various European jurisdictions, Hong Kong and a number of Caribbean Jurisdictions (including the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Caymans); and under all the leading institutional rules including AAA, ICC, HKIAC, LCIA, SCC and UNCITRAL.
Many of Charles’ cases have a foreign law element and/or non- England and Wales seat, involve jurisdictional challenges, conflicts of laws disputes and/or significant disputes over document production and other evidential matters.
Charles has been recommended for many years in Chambers & Partners UK and Global and Legal 500 as a leading commercial practitioner and is recommended for commercial litigation/CDR, commercial Chancery, insolvency and offshore. Charles is known as, “excellent for complex arbitration matters”.
Charles speaks and writes regularly on arbitration topics. Previous speaking engagements include speaking at the CDR Autumn Arbitration Symposium on “Arbitration and third-party funding: is it the way forward?”, and chairing a panel at the Legal Business International Arbitration Summit entitled, “External Funding: New Opportunities and Challenges in Arbitration Finance”.
Recent work includes acting in:
- (ICC) USD$ multi-million fraud proceedings over the supply of commodities from Africa.
- (LCIA) USD$ multi-million proceedings over major construction works carried out to a port in the Bahamas.
- (BHS seat) US$ multi-million Bahamian seated arbitration arising from the development of a luxury resort.
- (HKIAC) USD$ multi-million dispute under an alleged guarantee in connection with the construction of a super yacht.
- (Various Rules and jurisdictions) acting for a minority shareholder in US$ multi-billion claims connected to the ownership of a global brand.
- (LCIA) £multi-million dispute involving one of Europe’s biggest food franchises.
- (AAA) acting for the successful party in US$1 billion+ arbitral proceedings against a lender including multiple claims for breach of fiduciary duty in connection with disposal of a security.
- (ICC) acting for an English company in £multi-million claim against a Scandinavian concern in relation to an exclusive supply agreement.
- (SCC) proceedings against a CIS state entity over the supply of hi-tech products.
- (LCIA) USD$ multi-million proceedings for payment arising from the supply of oil and gas equipment to a site located in a CIS state.
- (UNCITRAL) acting for a US IT company in complex proceedings against US and Hong Kong parties relating to the provision of telecommunication services in the US and Hong Kong.
- (ICSID) US$ high value arbitration against a former Soviet Block government.
- Companies, joint ventures & partnerships
Companies, joint ventures & partnerships
Much of Charles’ practice involves acting for companies, shareholders, directors and other officers (including de factor and shadow directors) as well as partnerships/partners in domestic and offshore disputes and proceedings involving director and fiduciary misfeasance.
As to shareholder claims, he acts regularly in unfair prejudice proceedings (s994-996 Companies Act 2006) and proceedings for just and equitable winding up, and across a range of corporate disputes involving alleged breaches of shareholder agreements, actions arising from alleged shareholding dilutions, breach of warranty claims and related claims in director and fiduciary misfeasance.
Charles has been recommended for a number of years in Chambers & Partners UK and Global as a leading Chancery: Commercial practitioner, as well as enjoying recognition in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 for his commercial, Insolvency and Offshore work. Charles also has extensive experience, for which he has been recommended for a number of years in Legal 500, of acting in matters involving one or more insolvent parties.
Recent instructions of note include:
- In connection with a US$ multi-million dispute concerning control of a signature Caribbean resort. Issues involve the ownership and operation of Strata Corporation Structures and nature/scope of duties owed by managing agents.
- For former shareholders of a failed investment fund in USD$ multi-million claims against its former directors and investment administrators.
- Acting in a £multi-million minority shareholder dispute concerning the operation of a care home.
- In a number of different, £multi-million, unfair prejudice proceedings with underlying businesses spanning financial services, marketing and asset holding companies.
- USD$ multi-million proceedings concerning the alleged dilution of a minority shareholding interest in a company owning a world-famous resort.
- Proceedings for the just and equitable winding up of a holding company claim spanning four Caribbean and US jurisdictions.
Charles has been recommended for his commercial work in both Chambers and Partners UK and Global, and Legal 500 for many years: “One of the best and most user-friendly juniors. It isn’t easy to find barristers with real franchise specialism and he is one of them.”
Charles acts for both franchisors and franchisees in disputes ranging from domestic start-ups to Global brands. He provides commercial, strategic advice at all stages of contemplated and active court and arbitral proceedings.
He has deep experience and expertise across the full range of usual issues arising including urgent injunctive relief, the enforceability of restrictive covenants, complex matters of quantum, advising on rights of termination, misrepresentation, misappropriation, derogation from grant and related insolvency issues. Charles has notable experience in cross-border and international franchising disputes.
Charles is a regular speaker at Gatehouse Chambers’ Annual Franchising Conference, his last session dealing with the law of frustration, force majeure and supervening illegality (more details on the Gatehouse Chambers Franchising and Events pages).
Charles’ recent work includes acting:
- For a national franchisor in the services sector defending proceedings (and pursuing substantial counter-claims) against a former franchisee.
- For the claimant franchisee in LCIA arbitration proceedings involving one of Europe’s largest fast-food franchises.
- For a global franchisor in connection with a US$multi-billion claim involving one of the largest franchise operations in Asia.
- For a claimant franchisee in an action against a household-name franchisor in the leisure sector, in a matter raising a suite of novel questions over derogation from grant and the enforceability of restrictive covenants.
- For a franchisor in the finance sector in dispute with a Swiss franchisee, in a matter involving complex questions of corporate identity at foreign law.
Charles has long-standing expertise in construction related disputes (including associated corporate, fraud and insolvency related matters) in both arbitration and litigation, both domestic and international.
Much of Charles’ construction work involves disputes around offshore construction projects, particularly in the Caribbean and Far East.
Recent work includes acting:
- In USD$ multi-million LCIA proceedings over major construction works carried out to a port in the Bahamas.
- In a Bahamas seated arbitration, for a contractor in a USD$ multi-million dispute with a sub-contractor arising from the construction of luxury villas off the coast of Florida.
- (HKIAC) dispute under an alleged guarantee in connection with the construction of a super yacht.
- (TCC) for the successful property developer in defending proceedings and successfully prosecuting a claim for damages arising from a from landowners’ repudiatory breach of an option agreement and with claims in unjust enrichment (Peacock and Peacock v Imagine Property Developments Ltd  EWHC 1113 (TCC).
Charles contributed to Paul Reed KC, Construction Professional Indemnity Insurance, Sweet & Maxwell 2018, as well as to Paul Reed KC, Construction All Risks Insurance, Sweet & Maxwell, 2014. 2016 and to the third edition published in 2021.
Charles advises and acts for clients in connection with disputes relating to professional fees. He has a particular interest in third party funding and the issues related both to setting it up and running it.
Recent instructions of note include:
- Acting for an international law firm in connection with both fee recovery, and connected claims to Statutory and Non-Statutory Assessments of their legal fees.
- Advising and assisting the Respondent in its successful pursuit of security for costs of an upcoming appeal in a significant Caribbean corporate dispute.
- For the successful appellant in a landmark decision before a Caribbean Court of Appeal dealing with correct approach to the treatment of without prejudice offers when domestic courts exercise their discretion to award costs.
- Commercial litigation
A large proportion of Charles’ litigation and arbitration practice involves international clients, disputes and/or jurisdictions or seats. Charles is very well versed in working with foreign counsel, expert witnesses of foreign law and conflicts of law issues.
Called to the Bar of the British Virgin Islands, his experience covers mainland Europe, Russia, the Middle East, the Americas, the Caribbean (particularly the Turks & Caicos and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas) and Hong Kong and the Far East.
As well as advising, assisting and acting for parties involved in international disputes, he also acts as an expert on English law in foreign proceedings (eg the Russian Court of Appeal).
For further details of his particular expertise and recent experience, please see relevant sections of his profile.
Charles is a member of the Middle Temple International Sub-Committee and is currently on the Working Groups for both New Zealand and Australia. He is regularly involved with events aimed at the international market including London International Disputes Week.
- Insolvency & restructuring
Insolvency & restructuring
Charles has a substantial domestic and cross-border insolvency practice for which he is recognised in Legal 500. Much of his work touches on, or is in, offshore jurisdictions. His expertise covers not only insolvency proceedings domestically and abroad but also litigation and arbitration involving insolvency issues.
He handles all aspects of corporate/partnership insolvency, including administrations, voluntary arrangements and liquidations and the officeholder disputes arising from these such as fraud, wrongful trading and misfeasance. His expertise covers shareholders’ disputes, disqualification of directors, directors’ duties, derivative claims as well as security and priority issues.
In addition, he handles a wide variety of personal insolvency issues and acts regularly for and against current and former company officers in connection with alleged misfeasance (see his Companies, Joint Ventures & Partnerships tab).
Recent instructions of note include:
- For the investors and liquidator of a US$multi-million commodities investment fund in claims against former directors and the investment administrator. The claims involve deceit, conspiracy, breach of trust and fiduciary duty.
- For the petitioner in just and equitable winding up proceedings spanning four jurisdictions.
- Acting for the liquidator of an investment advisory company in connection with £multi—million claims brought be a former consultant and multi-jurisdictional claims against the company’s former directors for breaches of statutory and fiduciary duty.
- For the administrative receiver in a dispute with the shareholder and director of a company running a luxury holiday resort in the Caribbean.
- For the Qatari backed developer of a series of signature developments in the Caribbean as regards the assignment of a series of claims both prior to and following its liquidation.
- For an equitable receiver appointed by the Turks & Caicos Supreme Court in relation to various assets of a judgment debtor.
CSR & pro bono
A Bar Pro-Bono Unit Panel member, Charles is a committed supporter of pro-bono work. He speaks regularly to students of different ages and backgrounds about pursuing careers in the law and the realities of working as a solicitor and barrister.
For a number of years Charles has coordinated Gatehouses’ award-winning pupillage advocacy programme. A member of the Middle Temple International Sub-Committee, he acts as mentor to a number of students with an interest in careers as Barristers.
Charles is recommended in both Chambers UK and Chambers Global for Commercial Dispute Resolution and Chancery Commercial. The Legal 500 also recommends him for Commercial Litigation, as well as for Insolvency and Offshore.
Some of the comments made about him include:
- “Charles has very good analytical skills, and an extremely well-rounded knowledge base of not only the Insolvency practice area but general civil litigation principles.” (The Legal 500 2024, Insolvency)
- “Charles is a highly intelligent and focused individual with an uncanny ability to identify and grasp the core issues in a case and distil them down to bite-size pieces. He is analytical and extremely thorough in his advice.” (The Legal 500, 2024, Commercial Litigation)
- “A lawyer with a very good mind, who has an eye for detail. He’s both user friendly and responsive.” (Chambers and Partners 2024, Chancery: Commercial)
- “Charles is fantastic with clients and instantly puts them at ease with his confident, polite and assured manner.” (Chambers and Partners, Commercial Dispute Resolution)
- “Charles is excellent on every level.” (Chambers and Partners, Commercial Dispute Resolution)
- “Charles is excellent for complex arbitration matters.” (Chambers and Partners, Commercial Dispute Resolution)
- “He is incisive in his analysis and spot on in his advice.” (Chambers and Partners)
- “Charles is extremely eloquent both in advocacy and written advice/drafting.” (The Legal 500)
- “Charles is always charming and ensures that the service he provides is second to none.” (Chambers and Partners)
- “He is incredibly bright, dedicated and easy to work with. He is the perfect junior for any silk.” (Chambers and Partners)
- “Charles is very eloquent and extremely knowledgeable on the law and in particular insolvency.” (The Legal 500)
- “Very commercial, very sharp and a delight to work with.” (The Legal 500)
- “A very charming advocate who is particularly good at putting a client at ease and conveying the merits of a case to the judge accurately and succinctly” (The Legal 500)
- “He is really excellent.” (Chambers and Partners)
- “He’s affable and approachable, and can distil a complex problem down to its simple elements.” (Chambers and Partners)
- “Incredibly bright, responsive, detail oriented and thorough in his approach to work.” (The Legal 500)
- “One of the best and most user-friendly juniors. It isn’t easy to find barristers with real franchise specialism and he is one of them.” (The Legal 500)
- “He’s extremely good on his feet and excellent at understanding complex and specialist disputes.” (Chambers and Partners)
- “Very urbane and has a reassuring presence.” (Chambers and Partners)
- “He not only goes the extra mile, but does so happily.” (The Legal 500)
- Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association (CFLA)
- Chancery Bar Association
- The Fraud Lawyers Association
- London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA)
- Co-Author of Electronic Disclosure Law and Practice, Oxford University Press, first edition October 2017 (with Michael Wheater).
- Contributor to Paul Reed KC, Construction Professional Indemnity Insurance, Sweet & Maxwell 2018.
- Contributor to Paul Reed KC Construction All Risks Insurance, Sweet & Maxwell, 2014. 2016 and to the third edition published in 2021.
- Contributor to Insurance Broking: Practice and the Law, Informa.
Charles is a frequent contributor to a number of publications including the Journal of International Banking and Financial Law as well as providing materials for Lexis Nexis and Practical Law.
- MA (Oxon)
- Queen Mother’s and Lord Justice Sachs Scholar of the Middle Temple