Rupert Earle

Partner and Head of Media Litigation


  • Litigation Team of the Year 2021

    The Lawyer Awards

  • "Extremely well regarded" for his longstanding experience acting for and against public authorities, as well as advising public bodies on regulatory proceedings.

    Chambers UK 2021

  • Rupert Earle is a brilliant mind, strategic and calm under pressure. He knows the industry inside out as a regulator and we are able to count on his team at Bates Wells to consistently provide excellent service and results.

    Legal 500 2020

  • Rupert's strengths lie in his ability to predict accurately where a matter is headed. He is the right person with the right advice at the right time. His advice is unerringly practical and strategic.

    Chambers UK 2021

  • Vastly experienced, intelligent and unflappable

    Chambers UK 2021

  • Best Lawyer - Defamation

    Best Lawyers 2021 9th Edition

  • Rupert Earle has been consistently excellent. He has always been available to advise fully regardless of the hour or the day

    Legal 500 2021

  • An amazing lawyer who is doing really important work. An expert in his field and a statesman... respected and very knowledgeable.

    Chambers UK 2021

  • He is dedicated, thorough and always puts the client's best interests first

    Chambers 2020

  • He is very client-focused, dedicated, thorough and always puts the client's best interests first

    Chambers 2020

  • A well-respected figure in the advertising and marketing space

    Legal 500 2020

  • "A good choice for business and individuals seeking defamation expertise"

    Chambers 2019

  • "Calm, unflappable, experience and clever"

    Chambers 2019

  • "Professional and friendly, easy to talk to, helpful and contributes practical alternative options"

    Chambers 2019

  • "He's superb – seeing him in action against other lawyers really puts his quality into perspective"

    Chambers 2019

  • Knowledgeable, calm, careful, thorough and displays good judgement.

    Legal 500 2018

  • "He's excellent, experienced, level-headed, calm, pragmatic and practical"

    Chambers 2018

  • "He has unrivalled experience on advertising related matters, is incredibly good on the details and has very sensible judgement"

    Chambers 2018

  • Leading individual

    Legal 500 2017

  • Practice head and ‘consummate professional’ Rupert Earle provides ‘balanced and realistic advice’

    Legal 500 2017

  • [Rupert is] 'an excellent communicator and deals well with clients’, who is noted for his advertising and marketing expertise

    Legal 500 2017

  • Praised for his 'subject knowledge' and 'calm and collected approach'.

    Legal 500 2016


I have for some 30 years specialised in media, public/regulatory, advertising and consumer law issues, both in and out of court.

I have advised on a full range of media disputes, including up to the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights.  This covers defamation (eg Ashcroft v. Times Newspapers, Chohan v. Oxford University Press, Sovcomflot v. Lloyds Fairplay, Hardcash Productions v. Crown Prosecution Service, Prince Turki v. Hachette Filipacchi, Prince Nayef v. Independent, Cruddas v. Times Newspapers, Flood v. Times Newspapers (including in the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human rights); third party disclosure applications to identify anonymous postings and false profiles on social media (eg against Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Yahoo, BT); clearance work (eg biographies of Prince Charles and Jann Wenner, reports of inquiries into racism and sexual abuse in football; and advising on compliance with regulatory codes (eg IPSO and Ofcom Broadcasting Code).

My regulatory work has focused on advertising (including advising the Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of Advertising Practice on UK and EU advertising law); airports/airlines (advising on slot allocation at UK airports); and alcohol (acting for the Portman Group in relation to the regulation of the marketing of alcoholic drinks) – advising on regulatory codes, procedures and guidance. I have also acted in judicial review challenges to regulatory decisions, for example by Transport for London and by the Charity Commission.

My information law work has included acting for Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas, the Sunday Times journalist, in the information tribunal and High Court action to obtain disclosure of details of MPs expense claims; and for Dominic Kennedy, the Times journalist, up to the Supreme Court in relation to access to Charity Commission statutory inquiry information. I advise public authorities on FOIA and environmental information issues. I also advise political parties and referendum campaigners on data privacy issues.


  • Media law

    Acting for a national newspaper in defence of a threatened claim for defamation arising out of an article about the miss-selling of mini bonds.

  • Information law

    Acting for a historian in contested freedom of information challenges to the Cabinet Office and a University in relation to refusal to provide access to an archive containing important historical information.

  • Advertising

    Successfully defending rulings of the Advertising Standards Authority against claims for judicial review by City Fibre (challenging the advertising as “fibre” of broadband services which were not fully fibre optic) and Actegy (seeking to continue to advertise a medical device as effective for relieving symptoms of arthritis, diabetes etc).

  • Public/regulatory law

    Defending Airport Coordination against proceedings by the administrators of Monarch Airlines concerning whether the airline’s take-off and landing slots at Gatwick, Manchester and Luton airports could, on insolvency, be sold, or should fall into the slot pool for re-allocation.

  • I worked on the copy clearance for the biographies of Prince Charles (the Rebel Prince, Harper Collins) and Jann Wenner (Sticky Fingers, Canongate).
  • I have advised on risk intelligence databases.
  • I have also contested FOI cases involving DfID, the Cabinet Office, and a University.
  • I have acted for the Advertising Standards Authority in numerous investigations (including re property mis-descriptions, planning battles) and judicial reviews (eg Coys of Kensington v ASA 2012, Sainsbury’s v ASA 2014);
  • I challenged Transport for London’s ban on advertising for North Cyprus,
  • I worked on challenging Ofcom's procurement process for the telephone preference service as well as challenging for the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust the Charity Commission's press releases concerning the funding of CAGE;
  • I acted for the regulator of the marketing of alcoholic drinks;
  • I advised broadcasters in Ofcom investigations concerning compliance with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
  • I advised Britain Stronger In Europe in the 2016 EU referendum, and other participants in the 2017 general election.

Qualifications and career

  • Cambridge University, BA History, 1982
  • Admitted as a Solicitor in 1988
  • Solicitor and partner, Theodore Goddard and Addleshaw Goddard, 1988
  • Partner, Bates Wells, 2007

Pro bono, memberships, and appointments

  • Adviser, South West London Law Centre (SWLCC)
  • Co-editor and author, Crown, Bray and Earle, Advertising Law & Regulation, Bloomsbury Professional 2010
  • Contributing author, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s guide to advertising law, Ad Law, 2016
  • Radio and TV appearances on libel and adverting law issues, numerous press and journal articles
  • Lecturing for C5, Lexis Nexis Butterworths, Informa
  • Member of the Administrative Law Bar Association
  • Member of the Advertising Law Group
  • Member of the Society for Computing and the Law