Bharat Patel was born on the 16th of April 1952 in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe). He completed his primary education at a government school (Louis Mountbatten School) and secondary education at two private schools (Peterhouse and St. Georges College). He completed his legal training at the University of Rhodesia in 1975 and subsequently departed for England where he qualified as a barrister at Inner Temple and obtained his Master’s degree in law with University College London.
He began his working career in 1978 in the London para-legal sector, with the Greater London Citizens Advice Bureaux Service, focusing on civil rights, employment and social welfare law. In 1982 he returned to Zimbabwe and joined government service as legal counsel performing advisory and representative duties in matters of public law and international law. From 1993 he headed the Division of Legal Advice in the Attorney-General’s Office of Zimbabwe until he was appointed to the position of Deputy Attorney-General in August 2000. In April 2003 he assumed the post of Acting Attorney-General after the resignation of Andrew Chigovera.
In December 2004 he was appointed to the Bench, in the High Court of Zimbabwe, and assumed judicial duties in January 2005. From December 2007 to December 2008 he was temporarily re-appointed to the post of Acting Attorney-General, following the suspension and removal from office of the previous incumbent, Sobuza Gula-Ndebele.
In May 2013 he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe as Judge of Appeal. He was simultaneously appointed to the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe by virtue of certain transitional provisions in the new Constitution of Zimbabwe which came into operation in May 2013.
Since 1980 he was engaged in various part-time lecturing and training positions (in England, Zimbabwe and Swaziland) in employment law, immigration and nationality law, international law, environmental law and intellectual property rights. He also authored various publications and papers on human rights, humanitarian law, international law, environmental law and trade law, and was engaged from 1994 to 2000 on several consultancies in trade/investment law and environmental law.
Through his position as State counsel, he was actively involved in the interpretation and application of international and regional trade instruments, including treaties, agreements and ancillary instruments of the World Trade Organisation, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community. He was also professionally involved in the human rights field, through papers, publications, committees, advisory opinions, reports to international institutions, and before the courts, in the context of international treaties and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.