Charlene Sumnall


"A strong personality who is a fierce performer in court. She's very knowledgeable, brings a lot of energy to a case, and is good with tricky clients"

- Chambers and Partners

"She has developed into a leading junior"

- Legal 500

Charlene has a mixed criminal practice balancing both defence and prosecution work and is a Grade 3 prosecutor. She has a calm, approachable and easy going manner which makes her particular suitable for dealing both with difficult or vulnerable clients and those cases where vulnerable witnesses are involved. She has experience of being a sole junior, leading junior and led junior advocate in a range of offences including murder, manslaughter, GBH, rape and other serious sexual offences (including historic), Arson and Serious and complex fraud. She has a strong reputation in those cases where telephone or complex banking evidence requires close attention. She is increasingly instructed in cases where there are complicated issues arising over the biological evidence, its storage and its testing and has lectured on the same. She is renowned for having a strong understanding in cases where there is complex medical or scientific evidence to be analysed and presented.

Charlene has a strong background in consumer rights and regulatory law. She has a wealth of experience in offences arising out of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, Copyright and Trademark offences and Food and Product safety and recall. She is a contributing author to the Blackstones Guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and has had articles published in Trading Standards Journals. She has appeared in all levels of proceedings for both local authorities and defendants including appearing before the High Court (Civil Division) on injunctive relief proceedings. She regularly provides training for Local Authorities on all aspects of regulatory law and is able to advise business on compliance regimes and due diligence.

Current and Recent Cases

Operation Foremark (ongoing) – Leading prosecution advocate (leading Carolina Bracken) in a substantial insurance fraud. The allegations arise out of a staged burglary at the home address of the defendants. The case involves the alleged theft of over £250,000 of antiques and as such involves a significant amount of expert evidence. Both defendants face charges of fraud and perverting the course of justice. Additionally in the course of reviewing the case it became clear that the defendant’s had also perpetrated a large scale mortgage fraud and additional charges were added and the cases joined.

R v TF – (ongoing) – Charlene acts as junior counsel (alongside Graham Trembath QC) for a defendant charged with Murder. The case involves a number of witness with mental health issues. The issues in the case involve the interplay between the large amount of prescription medication, illegal drugs and alcohol consumed by the deceased in the hours prior to his death and positional asphyxiation. Charlene has been instructed due to her expertise in dealing with cases involving complex medical and scientific evidence.

Operation Pileated (2017) – sole instructed prosecution advocate in a 7 handed courier fraud. All the victims were vulnerable and elderly. The case involved over 20,000 pages of complex telephone and vehicle tracking data, as well as observation evidence. The trial lasted 6 weeks. All defendants were convicted and all received substantial sentences of immediate imprisonment. Following this Charlene was subsequently instructed as junior counsel alongside James Norman to prosecute Operation Pleach (2018) (ongoing) an 11-handed version of the same offending investigated by the same police unit.

R v HT - (2018) – Charlene was sole instructed advocate in this tax avoidance case. The defendant is a notable military historian who over a period of 6 years worked for the MOD and various television companies. He had paid no tax on earnings of £1 million. His defence was that he was a bit of a “peter pan” character and lived a dysfunctional lifestyle. He had not actively avoided his tax obligations but they simply never occurred to him. Following Charlene’s opening the defendant entered a guilty plea to the indictment. He was subsequently given an immediate custodial sentence. POCA proceedings are ongoing.

R v AN – (2018) – Charlene was instructed to defend this 89 year old man into allegations stemming from over 45 years ago into sexual abuse of family members. Her client was medically unwell and unable to physically get to court for trial. He had no mental conditions that would otherwise have prevented him from giving evidence in his own defence. Charlene successfully argued that as special measures did not apply in her clients case to enable him to participate in his own trial the case should be stayed as an abuse of process.

R v CM – (2017) – Following a 2 week trial Charlene secured acquittals on all counts for a 74 year old man who was alleged to have been sexually abusing his granddaughters. The case involved the cross examination of young and vulnerable witnesses.

R v DA and 5 others – (2016) – Following a successful application made at half time Charlene’s client was acquitted of violent disorder arising out of an incident at the Croydon branch of “Tiger Tiger”. Following careful cross examination of both door staff and police on appropriate restraint techniques and the danger of positional asphyxiation the judge acceded to the submission that the danger to the restrained person was such that the behaviour attributable to her client was no more than necessary to protect another from the risk of serious injury and death. Other defendants were convicted.

Operation Moccasin – (2015) – Charlene acted as junior defence counsel to two separate defence teams in this 10 handed paedophile ring case. The case involved allegations emanating from 5 young siblings for which her clients were the maternal aunt and uncle. A novel approach was taken to the cross examination of these young witnesses whereby rather than putting questions to the witnesses a schedule of “inconsistencies” was put before the jury. Charlene was responsible for the creation of this document which involved cross referencing thousands of pages of material from the family court alongside the numerous ABE videos and diaries of disclosures kept by the children’s foster carers. Charlene’s clients were acquitted of all charges after a 3 month trial

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Regulatory, Consumer and Product Liability


Seminars and Training

Notable Cases