His written opinions are always top-notch.
Chambers and Partners, 2021
He's assured without being unapproachable, and extremely experienced in electoral law.
Chambers and Partners, 2021
A rising star in the field of election law.
Legal 500, 2021
He is very easy to work with and works tirelessly to ensure the job is done.
Chambers and Partners, 2019
He is incredibly hard-working, diligent and knowledgeable
Chambers and Partners, 2018
Instructed by pro-Brexit campaigners in election law matters.
Legal 500, 2020
"He is very diligent and hard-working."
Chambers and Partners, 2020
"A very vivid advocate who powerfully puts his client's point of view across and is completely fearless in doing so."
Chambers and Partners, 2020
He is very knowledgeable, highly approachable and extremely experienced in electoral law.
Chambers and Partners, 2022
He has secured himself a niche position in election law and is perfectly nice to deal with.
Chambers and Partners, 2022

Public law junior of the year (finalist), 2020: Legal 500

Barrister of the Week, May 2020, The Lawyer

Francis is a top rated public lawyer (Legal 500) and election lawyer (Chambers and Partners), who also acts in employment, commercial and property law.

In 2015 Francis, appearing against two Queen’s Counsel and following the longest election petition trial for a century, secured a High Court judgment that voided the election of Lutfur Rahman as Mayor of Tower Hamlets and found him and his election agent guilty of corrupt and illegal practices. Francis regularly appears in election petitions and in related proceedings, including political reputation management, and has a considerable advisory practice. He recently acted successfully for Craig Mackinlay MP (in a criminal prosecution) and Darren Grimes (in an appeal against the Electoral Commission) and acted for the petitioner in an election petition challenging the result of the by-election in Peterborough in 2019.

Francis acted for the claimant in the judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the original (March 2020) ‘lockdown’ regulations imposed as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, the landmark case of R (Dolan) v Secretary of State that was decided in the Court of Appeal in December 2020 – a case largely based on Francis’s legal opinion published (before the claim was brought) in April 2020.  He has since acted in judicial reviews of regulations imposing travel regulations and mandatory vaccination of carehome and (now) NHS workers and of the lawfulness of child vaccination policies; and in a successful High Court appeal against the GMC’s restriction of the freedom of expression of a GP.  In 2019, Francis acted in two constitutional cases, challenging the lawfulness of the government’s initial decision not to hold European Parliamentary elections and of the first extension of the period for leaving the European Union under Article 50.

Francis was in a shortlist of eight (and the only junior) for The Lawyer magazine’s ‘barrister of the year’ award, 2016. In May 2015, Francis was The Times Lawyer of the Week.

Francis is ranked by the Legal 500, in Band 1, as one of the top 10 leading juniors in Administrative and Public Law; and, by Chambers and Partners, in Band 1 as one of only four juniors ranked in Election Law.

A complete tour de force… worthy of the admiration of the Court’. Commissioner Richard Mawrey, QC (Erlam & Others v Rahman & Another (2) [2015] EWHC 1215 (QB))

‘Impressive’ Mrs Justice Lang (R (Story) v Riordan (Returning Officer for the Yorkshire and Humber Region for elections to the European Parliament) [2016] EWHC 3490 (Admin).)

Made ‘well reasoned’ submissions and ‘compelling analysis’. Mr Justice Jay (Baxter v Fear & Others [2015] EWHC 3136 (QB) (Divisional Court)).

Francis can accept instructions directly from members of the public.

If you would like more information about Francis’ practice, please email his clerks or call them +44 (0)20 7405 6114.

Election Law, Party Political Cases and Reputation Management

Francis is one of only four juniors rated by Chambers and Partners, in band one, as Election Law specialists.

Francis appears and advises in election petitions, injunctions and prosecutions pursuant to the Representation of the People Act 1983 and in related proceedings. He acts – in England and Wales and in other common law jurisdictions – for candidates, political parties, local authorities, returning officers, third sector organisations and other campaigning organisations, some on an ongoing basis. Current and recent clients include Facebook, Sean Bailey, Mainstream, Laurence Fox and Brian Rose.

Francis acts in related proceedings concerned with party political process and political reputation management.  He advises and acts for political parties and their members in internal (including disciplinary) disputes and in legal actions. During the 2015, 2017 and 2019 general elections and in subsequent elections including the London Assembly and Mayoral elections in 2021, he has advised political parties, Parliamentary and other candidates on regulatory compliance with election law (in particular in relation to expenditure and donations) and on possible injunctive relief preventing publication of false statements about their personal character; and he advises about and acts in defamation, harassment, data protection and other proceedings issued in order to protect personal and political reputations.

Francis writes and lectures about election law (see below, under ‘Publications and Media’).

Recent cases:

R (Democratic Newham Limited) v Newham London Borough Council [2021] EWHC 150 (Admin)

Francis was instructed by this campaign group in a crowd-funded judicial review of the refusal of a local authority to validate a petition for a referendum on governance arrangements under the Local Authorities (Referendums) (Petitions) (England) Regulations 2011.  The case concerned whether a petition delivered after the coming into force of the Government and Police and Crime Commissioner (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections and Referendums) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020) and before 5 May 2021 is void under the amendments made in the 2020 Regulations. Francis was instructed by Rahman and Co and appeared against Timothy Straker QC and Vivienne Sedgley.

Re. Local election in the Totteridge and Bowerdean Ward of Buckinghamshire Council: Rashid v Wassell & Others (2021)

A challenge on the grounds that it appeared that persons unknown tampered with the ballots by adding a vote to three ‘block votes’ for Liberal Democrat candidates, so voiding the result.  Scrutiny and recount held in September 2021.  Matter ongoing.

Francis, leading Ghazala Hussain, is appearing against James Laddie QC and Timothy Straker QC.

Re. Local election in Coldhurst Ward of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council: v Azad v Jabber & Others (2021)

Acted for the Petitioner in a challenge on the grounds that the Returning Officer had failed to admit polling agents of the petitioner into polling stations for a period of three hours; and that, the number of votes being greater than the difference between the petitioner and the third placed (elected) candidate, the error affected the result. Appeared against Timothy Straker QC.

Re. Local election in Barnhill Ward, London Borough of Brent (Voloseniuc & Misty v Returning Officer for the London Borough of Brent) (2020)

Francis advised the petitioners who challenged the refusal of the returning officer to hold a recount in a local by-election held in January 2020.  A recount was held in the Royal Courts of Justice and the petition was withdrawn due to the result of the recount.

Appeared against Timothy Straker QC and Sarah Sackman.

Greene v Forbes [2020] EWHC (QB) 676

Francis was  instructed by a candidate in an election petition challenging the Parliamentary by-election in June 2019.  The petition was brought on the grounds of election fraud.  In December 2019, the Divisional Court determined that the petition did not ‘abate’ at the dissolution of Parliament but allowed the petitioner’s application to withdraw it.  Francis was instructed by Wedlake Bell and appeared (alone) against Gavin Millar QC and Sarah Sackman.

The petition has been very widely reported, including by the BBC, ITVthe Independent, the Guardian and the Express,

Darren Grimes v the Electoral Commission, 2019

Francis acted for Darren Grimes, a Leave campaigner in the EU referendum in his successful challenge against findings by the Electoral Commission that he reported expenditure incorrectly as individual expenditure when it was allegedly expenditure of an organisation, BeLeave; and to have engaged in unreported ‘common plan’ expenditure with Vote Leave, meaning that his expenditure should have been declared by Vote Leave, which would have put them above their spending limit.

Francis was instructed by Saunders Solicitors, alone, until just before the trial, at which he was led by Timothy Straker QC (who had previously been acting for Vote Leave in the joined proceedings).  He acted as sole counsel, against Sir James Eadie QC, Senior Treasury Counsel, in substantial legal submissions concerning whether Article 6 of the ECHR required an appeal against a finding by the Commission to be heard as a re-trail.

Mr Grimes’s successful grounds of appeal included a challenge to the construction of paragraph 22 of the EU Referendum Act: does a campaigner ‘incur’ expenditure when it is deemed incurred only by the lead campaigner; whether over-declaration of expenditure is an offence; and the definition of joint expenditure under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000?

The case was widely reported, including by the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC and the Express.

R v Craig Mackinlay MP & Others (2017-19)

Francis was instructed, by Manley’s solicitors, as junior counsel to Mr Mackinlay (led by David Mason QC) in the successful defence to his prosecution for election offences arising out of the election return in the 2015 general election.  It was alleged that the return excluded items of expenditure that should have been included as expenses in the national return of the Conservative Party (under the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000).

This prosecution arose after investigations by Channel 4 and has received considerable national and international coverage.  It was the first prosecution of a MP for election expenses offences for twenty years. (See Channel 4BBCGuardian)

In May 2018 Francis and Mr Mackinlay’s legal team appeared in the Court of Appeal, which upheld Mr Mackinlay’s appeal on a preliminary point of law as to whether notional election expenses (provided for free or an undervalue) must be authorised by a candidate or agent.  This decision was overturned by the Supreme Court in R v Mackinlay and Others [2018] UKSC 42.  Mr Mackinlay was found not guilty in a criminal trial that ended in early 2019.

Advisory work:

Francis has been engaged since August 2018 as the sole counsel advising Facebook on its compliance with electoral law in the United Kingdom and in British Overseas Territories, instructed by the London and Los Angeles offices of White and Case

Francis was instructed to advise three candidates for the 2021 London Mayoral and London Assembly elections and two political parties on their compliance with electoral law: Sean Bailey and the Conservative Party (instructed by Atkins Thomson), Laurence Fox and the Reclaim Party (instructed by Wedlake Bell) and Brian Rose.

Francis has been engaged since August 2019 as the sole counsel advising Mainstream UK, a major political campaign on its compliance with electoral law as a Third-Party campaigner in the 2019 general election. He is instructed by Atkins Thomson.

R (Rahman) v Local Government Election Court [2017] EWHC 1413 (Admin)

Erlam & Ors v Lutfur Rahman & Anor (1) ([2014] EWHC 2766 (QB), Divisional Court);

Erlam & Ors v Lutfur Rahman & Anor (2) ([2015] EWHC 1215 (QB), Election Court);

Erlam v Rahman ([2015] EWHC 2370 (QB), High Court, QB: freezing order proceedings);

R (Rahman) v Local Election Court [2016] EWHC, Divisional Court [2016] EWHC 1280 (Admin).

Leading junior counsel to Petitioners.  Successfully resisted strike out application in the Divisional Court (2014) appearing against James Laddie QC and Timothy Straker QC.  After a seven-week election petition trial, appearing against Duncan Penny QC and Timothy Straker QC, Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC made the following findings:

  • Electoral fraud, through false and dishonest registration and postal voting fraud;
  • False statements against the opposing candidate, John Biggs;
  • Bribery, through the unlawful distribution of Council grants (first ever such finding);
  • Threats of spiritual injury (first finding since the 19th century); and
  • The payment of canvassers.

The Divisional Court refused Mr Rahman permission to judicially review all but the findings of spiritual influence in January, 2016.

In 2017 the Divisional Court refused Mr Rahman permission to amend his claim for judicial review. This application was on the grounds that the failure of the CPS to prosecute Mr Rahman for election offences imposed a duty on public bodies, including the court, to treat him as innocent. See Francis’s commentary on this part of the JR in Lexis.

Francis also acted for the Petitioners, in mid-2015, in their successful application for a final freezing order against Mr Rahman.

R (Story) v Riordan (Returning Officer for the Yorkshire and Humber Region for elections to the European Parliament) [2016] EWHC 3490 (Admin)

Acted for a candidate for the European Parliament who was next on the Conservative Party list after the sitting MEP, Timothy, Lord Kirhope, who resigned following his entry into the House of Lords. The candidate had the right to be approached by the returning officer but was denied a certificate of standing by his Party. Judicial review proceedings against the returning officer concerned whether or not he could delay further approaching the candidate below Mr Story in the Party List (who, if approached and able to provide a certificate of standing, would then be returned as the MEP) pending proceedings against the Party challenging the decision not to provide a certificate. Appeared against Timothy Straker QC and Sappho Dias.

(see: The Daily Express)

Story v Mcloughlan [2017] EWHC 3350 (QB)

Francis acted for Mr Story challenging the refusal by the Board of the Conservative to provide a certificate to permit him to succeed Lord Kirkhope as MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, notwithstanding that he was placed second on the list after Lord Kirkhope.  The judgment determined important issues as to the extent to which the Court could interfere with decisions of a political party as a board (or executive) and in making decisions about its candidates; and whether it was entitled to consider the Parliamentary history of the European Parliamentary Elections regulations.

Advisory work and representation for GO Movement Ltd, Leave.EU, Grassroots Out and Labour Leave (July 2015-December 2016)

The former was one of the two leading organisations that applied for designation (by the Electoral Commission) as lead ‘Leave’ campaigners in the EU Referendum (supported by the latter clients).  Francis advised and represented them in the designation process, on compliance with electoral law, on potential challenges to decisions by HM Government and the Electoral Commission and on all other electoral matters.

(see: The Telegraph)

Baxter v Fear & Ors ([2015] EWHC 3136 (QB), Divisional Court)

Instructed by the Conservative Party to represent Councillors in an election petition caused by an error of the returning officer.  The ‘novel and important point’ (Jay J) concerned whether it was constitutionally improper to take into account how voters might have voted in determining whether an error ‘appeared to have affected’ the result of an election.  Appeared against Gavin Millar QC and Timothy Straker QC.

Parkinson v Lewis & Ors ([2016] EWHC 725 (QB), Election Court)

Election petition an untested point relating to errors in nomination papers, successfully retained to ensure respondent candidate avoided costs liability.  Timothy Straker QC acted for the returning officer.

Rehman v Khan ((2015), Election Court)

Election petition alleging spiritual influence.  Retained by petitioner.  Drafted pleadings and submissions for trial.  Gavin Millar QC acted for the respondent Councillor.

Public and Constitutional Law

Constitutional law and judicial reviews of national government policy and secondary legislation:

R (Peters & Others) v Secretary of State for Health [2021] EWHC 3182 (Admin)

Crowdfunded JR against (2021) Regulations imposed under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 imposing mandatory vaccination on careworkers on the grounds (inter alia) that the Regs were ultra vires the 2008 Act and were a disproportionate interference with bodily autonomy protected by Article 8 ECHR.

This first challenge to mandatory vaccinations involved questions of particular public importance, including the balance between public health duties and bodily integrity and whether the prohibition on requiring treatment in another part of the 2008 Act amending the Public Health Act 1984 restricted the power of the SoS to impose regs elsewhere in the 2008 Act.

Francis was instructed by Jackson Osborne Solicitors and was led by Edmund Williams QC and led Joshua Jackson

Reported in the Daily Telegraph (Sept 21 and February 22). Articles in the legal and medical press included: New Law Journal, Liberty, Local Government Lawyer, Landmark Chambers.

R (Dr Stephen James & Others) v Secretary of State for Health

Crowdfunded JR against (2022) Regulations imposed under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 imposing mandatory vaccination on all NHS staff on the grounds (inter alia) that the Regs were ultra vires the 2008 Act and were a disproportionate interference with bodily autonomy protected by Article 8 ECHR.  The case is ongoing and Francis was instructed by Jackson Osborne Solicitors.

The case has been widely reported, including in The Guardian, the Daily Mail and GB News.

R (AB & CD) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Court of Appeal (appeal against failure to list application for interim relief expeditiously): 22.9.2022

Application for interim relief (Jay J): 28.9.2022

Application for non-party disclosure from the ONS (Swift J): 13.1.2022 – [2022] EWHC 87 (Admin)

Crowdfunded JR of the programme of mass-vaccination of children under 18.  Challenge was on the grounds that: (a) (for 16/17 year olds) the JCVI changed its advice in the absence of long-term safety advice after having said that it would not do so without that evidence; and (b) (for 12-15 yr olds) the SoS authorised a mass-vaccination programme after the JCVI did not recommend it, instead consulting the Chief Medical Officers, who had no statutory role to advise on vaccination.  The case involves the novel question (in the context of the JCVI) of whether it is appropriate to side-step the advice of a body with a particular statutory duty.

Francis, leading Anna Danreuthers, is instructed by Jackson Osborne.

Awaiting oral hearing to determine permission.

The case has been reported in The Daily Express, Daily Mail, Metro.

R (Dolan) v Secretary of State for Health and Secretary of State for Education [2020] EWCA Civ 1605

Francis was instructed by Wedlake Bell in this judicial review of the Public Health (Coronavirus) (England) Regulations, the secondary legislation under which the ‘lockdown’ imposed in response to the coronavirus epidemic has been imposed.  The Statement of Facts and Grounds (which can be found here) challenge the Regulations on the following grounds: (1) that the are ultra vires the 1984 Public Health Act; (2A) that the government failed to take into account relevant considerations; (2B) that the government fettered its discretion by applying five tests that fail to consider the effect of the lockdown on anything other than the spread of the virus; (2C) that the Regulations are irrational; (2D) that the Regulations are disproportionate contrary to s 45D of the 1984 Act; and (3) that the Regulations are disproportionate interferences with fundamental rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case was heard in the Administrative Court in June 2020 and in the Court of Court of Appeal in late October 2020, judgment was handed down in December 2020.  Francis was led by Philip Havers QC and instructed by Wedlake Bell; Sir James Eadie QC, Senior Treasury Counsel, led for the Secretary of State.

The judicial review was very widely reported including in Sky News, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express, the Daily Star, and The Sun.

R (Dolan, Cripps Barns Ltd and Lauren Monks) (No. 2) v Secretary of State for Health and Secretary of State for Business; Administrative Court (Swift J) [2020] EWHC 3857 (Admin)

JR of the secondary legislation under which further restrictions were imposed.  This began as a challenge to the ‘Rule of Six’ regulations in September 2020 but was amended to challenge the ‘tiers’ introduced in October and then the the first ‘lockdown’ in response to the coronavirus epidemic was imposed.  The JR was on similar grounds to the above, but reflecting later evidence.

Francis, leading Anna Danreuther, appeared against Sir James Eadie in an application for an interim injunction suspending the enforcement of the restrictions on weddings, acting for D2, which is a wedding venue company.  He was instructed by Wedlake Bell LLP.

The case was widely reported, including by The Independent, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Daily Mail, Herbert Smith.

R (AB & Others) v Secretary of State for Transport and Another

Francis has been instructed by a businessman in a judicial review of the International Travel (etc) (‘quarantine’) Regulations 2020, which imposed a requirement to self-isolate on all travellers to the UK other than those travelling from ‘safe’ countries.  The Grounds include that the Regulations were ultra vires the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984; that the imposition of indiscriminate quarantine on all travellers from particular countries is contrary to the right to liberty (Article 5 of the ECHR) and that the Regulations are irrational and disproportionate.

The Court of Appeal is currently considering the claimant’s application for permission to appeal against the judgment of Sir Ross Cranston of March 2021.

This case has been reported in The Times, by Joshua Rozenburg and by Travelweekly.

R (English Democrats) v the Prime Minister, 2019

Francis was instructed by a political party in a judicial review of the first extension of the period within which the UK may negotiate withdrawal from the EU provided by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.  The grounds for the claim were that no prerogative or statutory power existed for the extension agreed by the former Prime Minister in March 2019.  Sir James Eadie QC acted for the Prime Minister.

(See the Daily Express, the Mail)

R (Leave Means Leave) v Minister for the Cabinet Office, 2019

 Francis was instructed by Wedlake Bell in a successful challenge to HM Government’s initial decision not to hold European Parliamentary elections in the event of an extension under Article 50 TEU.  The challenge is made in the light of the obligation on the UK to ensure democratic representation within the EP for all EU citizens, pursuant to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty for the Functioning of the EU.  Reliance is also placed on the indefinite duration of EU membership in the light of the possibly unilateral revocation of A50 (confirmed by Wightman v the Secretary of State (2018) C-621/18).

This challenge was reported by Telegraph, the i-newspaper, the Huffington Post and Guido Falkes

R (Miller) v Secretary of State of Exiting the European Union [2017] UKSC 5,

Francis was junior counsel to the fifth intervener in the Supreme Court in R (Miller) v Secretary of State of Exiting the European Union [2017] UKSC 5, the case determining whether or not an Act of Parliament was required before giving notification under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union;

Other cases and publications

  •  Advised on the merits of a possible judicial review of the lawfulness of the Government’s decision to provide and fund a leaflet to all electors in the EU Referendum, in March 2016, for a leading campaigner in the EU referendum;
  • Author of a paper arguing that the UK is free to negotiate free trade agreements with non-EU members prior to its exit from the EU.
  • Author (with Martin Howe QC and Dr Gunnar Beck) of a paper on ‘Adjudicating Treaty Rights in post-Brexit Britain’, which proposes a new tribunal system within the UK dealing with rights under any future treaties with the EU and an international adjudication procedure for disputes between the EU and the UK under such treaties.
  • Author (with Martin Howe QC and Dr Gunnar Beck) of a paper suggesting a resolution to the question of the rights of EU citizens resident in the EU after withdrawal, which heavily influenced government policy and the UK’s offer on citizens’ rights in June 2017;
  • Drafted suggested amendments to the Immigration Act 2016 at the request of the Leader of a local authority;
  • Drafted suggested amendments to other Bills and Acts for members of both Houses of Parliament;
  • Author of a recent article in The Times on the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.
  • In September and October 2019, interviewed by Channel Four News, Newsnight, BBC Five Live and BBC Northern Ireland about the Supreme Court’s decision on the prorogation of Parliament and the ‘Benn’ Act requiring a further extension to be requested under Article 50 TEU.

Freedom of Expression within professions:

Francis has acted, recently, in cases reviewable in the Administrative Court concerning the freedom of expression of professionals.

Francis acted, before the GMC Interim Tribunal and the High Court, in the case of White v General Medical Council [2021] EWHC 3286 (Admin) in a successful crowdfunded appeal against an order of the Interim Tribunals of the GMC preventing him from speaking about ‘the Covid-19 pandemic or associated aspects’.  The High Court found that the Tribunal had erred in law in failing to determine – pursuant to s 10 of the HRA in a matter affecting Article 10 rights – whether the GMC was likely to succeed in a final hearing.  The case involved important issues about whether a Tribunal can determine what is ‘misinformation’ where there is conflicting opinion and the extent to which it may restrict freedom of expression in a public health crisis.  Francis was instructed by PJH Law and appeared against Alexis Hearnden.

Francis has also advised and drafted written submissions in proceedings brought by the Architects Regulatory Board and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries concerning comments made by their members in the course of public debate.

Francis also wrote a lengthy report proposing increased legal protection to freedom of expression in relation to criminal investigations and offences, online and in the workplace.  In Protection of Freedom of Speech has a Foreword by Lord Sumption.

Local Authorities and PII:

Francis regularly acts for and against local authorities, particularly in housing matters.  He has a particular expertise in applications for injunctions against council tenants under the Housing Act 1996. Francis is instructed by local authorities in the specialist area of public interest immunity applications in the Crown Court.  Francis is particularly well placed to act in this area having had an extensive criminal prosecution practice in the past, in addition to his specialist public law experience.

Mental Health and capacity:

Francis acts for individuals, local authorities and other public bodies in cases before the High Court, Court of Protection and (in relation to Mental Health Act cases) the County Court.

Recent reported cases include:

  • A Clinical Commissioning Group v DC (by his litigation friend, the Official Solicitor) and others: [2022] All ER (D) 05 (Feb), [2022] EWCOP 2: concerning whether it was in the best interests of a young man age 20 but with the weight of a nine year old to have adult doses of the Covid 19 vaccine, instructed by Broad Yorkshire Law
  • E v LB Hammersmith and Fulham & Another (vaccination)[2021] All ER (D) 93 (Jan): the first reported case concerning the vaccination against Covid 19 of adults lacking capacity), instructed by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
  • London Borough of Croydon v KR & Anor [2019] EWHC 2498 (Fam): concerning the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court over a person whose capacity may fluctuate due to undue influence, instructed by the London Borough of Croydon

Inquests:

Francis acts for public bodies, insurers, businesses, individuals and families, as interested persons, in Inquest proceedings before the Coroners Court.

Francis’s human rights practice – including leading against Queen’s Counsel in cases of national importance involving ECHR issues – is of great assistance in Inquests concerning the actions of public bodies.  Francis also has the unusual quality of being an experienced jury advocate (having led in criminal trials including rape and serious fraud) who now has a heavyweight civil and human rights practice, making him well suited to this area.

Recent cases involve:

  • Re Keria (East Sussex Coroner’s Court): an inquest into the death of a young person while she was in the effective custody of the Priory Group (acting for the local authority at which she had resided); see the Guardianthe Telegraphthe BBCITV; and the Daily Mail
  • Inquest (Westminster Coroner’s Court) into the killing of a man by his domestic partner, following a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity (acting for the local authority).
  • Instructed by HM Coroner for Buckinghamshire in a potential challenge to his rulings during an inquest.
  • Inquest (Walthamstow Coroner’s Court) into the death a 16 year old in the care of a local authority through a drugs overdose (acting for the authority).
  • Inquest (Westminster Coroner’s Court) into the death of a recently sectioned mental health patient, which concerned issues as to the responsibility of a NHS Trust and the local authority (acting for the authority).

Prison Law: 

Francis acts for prisoners in cases before the Parole Board, in disciplinary proceedings and in civil claims against the state for miss-treatment in prison.  Recent cases involved a life prisoner 20 years over his tariff and two prisoners convicted of rape on indeterminate sentences.  In December 2012, Francis appeared (led by Jonathan Cowen) in the judicial review of the refusal of Rampton High Security Hospital to permit access by patients to pornographic material.

Other Public Law/Cases involving public bodies:  Francis acts for defendants in civil actions against the police, including wrongful arrest, miss-treatment and malicious prosecution.  He acts in the area of mental health.  With his criminal and human rights background, he is well placed to advise in related cases affecting the liberty of the subject.

Francis is currently acting in a ground-breaking case involving the question of when limitation starts to run in claims for damages in cases of wrongfully administered cautions that have subsequently been discharged.  There is currently no common law authority on this question.

Company & commercial

General Commercial: Francis is instructed in all areas of commercial law, including contract, restraint of trade, construction, the sale and carriage of goods, credit hire and professional negligence (see under public law for details of his commercial immigration practice).  Ongoing and recent cases include:

  • A £1.5 million commercial dispute over the restitution of monies paid ancillary to rent, involving successful applications before the High Court for freezing injunctions;
  • Acting for a local authority in a case currently before the Technology and Construction Court concerning the defective installation of paving on the highway;
  • Acting for an education provider in a contractual dispute with a funding network in a contract regulated by the Skills Funding Agency;
  • A construction dispute involving a major building project at a university: application to strike out on grounds of abuse successfully resisted and claim settled for the full amount;
  • A substantial claim for damages in a contractual dispute relating to the establishment and running of a nightclub in central London;
  • A number of disputes between recruitment agencies and companies over the payment of commission charges;
  • Francis is frequently asked to advise, by employers and employees, as to the enforceability of restraint of trade covenants.

Company/Commercial Chancery and Insolvency: Francis is often instructed and advises in claims brought in the Companies Court and the Chancery Division of the High Court and in the Chancery list at Central London County Court. His case load includes partnership, claims and applications brought under the Companies’ Act, including:

  • Acting for a member of a business organisation incorporated as a company in an application to wind it up on the just and equitable ground, alternatively for relief due to unfair prejudice, on the grounds of the mismanagement of company funds and elections to positions. CCMC and strike out application in January 2017.
  • Acted for the member of a company in another application to wind up on the just and equitable grounds or for alternative relief in a case involving the alleged misappropriation of company property. Successful settlement obtained.
  • An injunction in the High Court, Companies Court, involving issues of passing off, misappropriation of company property, competition in a quasi-partnership; successful settlement obtained;
  • A partnership dispute relating to dissolution accounts and allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, partnership turnover c £2 million;
  • Two other partnership disputes involving accusations of breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, theft and harassment;
  • Applications for restoration of companies to the register (including where there is an impending claim against a dissolved company) under s 1029 of the Companies Act 2006
  • Corporate and personal insolvency, including winding up petitions, bankruptcy petitions, applications to set aside statutory demands, etc.

Professional Negligence: Francis advises and acts in professional negligence disputes. Recent cases have included:

  • Currently instructed, appearing against Queen’s Counsel at an application for summary judgment, in a surveyor’s negligence claim involving the issue of the personal liability of an employed surveyor in a claim in contract;
  • Acted in a claim against an accountant on the grounds of his failure to advise a business of their liability to register for VAT;
  • Advised in a potential claim against criminal solicitors for their allegedly negligent failure to advise positively on appeal;
  • Acted for a firm of immigration solicitors in a claim alleging the negligent failure to advise on the correct type of application for a business visa.

Employment

Francis acts for both employers and employees.  He regularly advises employers on proposed redundancy settlements, redundancy claims, proposed changes of terms and conditions and associated claims, unfair dismissal, TUPE transfers and associated claims and discrimination claims.  In addition, Francis’s commercial expertise is of great value when he is frequently asked to advise and act in contractual restraint of trade claims.  Employers and employees need to act with particular care before issuing and defending such proceedings, given the high degree of uncertainty in the enforcement of such agreements.

With a considerable practice in public law and human rights, Francis frequently advises and acts in discrimination claims, from before potential actions (eg during the internal disciplinary or grievance process) to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and beyond.  With his extensive litigation and advocacy experience, he is well placed to advise employers and employees before litigation, including on employment contracts, transfers of undertakings, redundancy schemes and disciplinary and grievance procedures, in addition to potential actions.

Francis acts in cases before the Employment Tribunal, the EAT, the County Court and the High Court (in contractual cases). Recent cases have included:

  • Edmunds v Tower Hamlets London Borough Council (2019, ongoing) Representing a fraud investigator in an unfair dismissal and discrimination claim, alleging that his dismissal was a sham redundancy with the object of ending prematurely fraud investigations into the Council’s Youth Service.  The final liability hearing was held over 12 days in August and December 2019 and judgment has been reserved.  The case was widely reported, including by The Times, Daily Mail and The Sun.
  • Snowball v Leslie Franks Ltd (December 2016): six day case in the Employment Tribunal, London Central, involving a claim (for c£200,000) of disability discrimination by a solicitor against her former employer (judgment reserved). (See The Times, ‘Law firm head accused of bullying and disability bias’.)
  •  Miah v NHS (ongoing in 2017): claim (for c£200,000) in the Employment Tribunal, London Central (alternative proceedings in the county court pending) of alleged racial and religious discrimination by the NHS.

Francis writes and lectures on employment law. He recently produced a webinar on ‘Pursuing and Defending Claims under the Equality Act’ and his guide to facility time for trade unions was published by the Taxpayers’ Alliance in September 2012.

Property and Contentious Probate

Francis acts for and advises in commercial and residential landlord and tenant matters, including in cases of disrepair and harassment.  Recent cases include:

  • Advising a property developer over a hotel development and applications under TOLATA in view of the objection of co-beneficiaries;
  • Acting for a local authority in an application before the First-tier Tribunal (Residential Property) applications
  • Advising a substantial golf club in a number of planning and property matters, including substantial disputes with a local authority;
  • Unlawful eviction actions, including a criminal trial acting for a local authority and a civil action acting for a tenant.

Francis acts in contentious probate cases.  Ongoing and recent cases include the following:

Personal injury

Francis represents claimants and defendants in all areas of personal injury.  His cases range from standard fast track road traffic cases to complex cases involving issues such as work-place bullying, psycho physiological illness and carbon monoxide poisoning.  He is well placed to act and advise from the earliest stages, when issues such as permission to instruct experts may be of critical importance.

Additional professional information

Elected member of the Committee of the Criminal Bar Association, 2007-2010, in which position he drafted a large number of CBA responses to Government consultations relating to law reform.  Francis has also served on sub-committees of the Bar Council. Interests include running (Francis ran the Flora London Marathon in 2008 and raised £2,500 for Cancer Research); skiing, riding, history and singing.

Recent reported cases

Publications & media

In Protection of Freedom of Speech (June 2021), with a Foreword by Lord Sumption.

In 2021 and 2022 Francis regularly appears on GB News and Talk Radio to discuss the legal framework around and objections to lockdowns and other restrictions.

Education

  • LLB. (Bristol): Law (2:1 (Hons))
  • John Colston Award for international debating, Bristol University (2000)
  • Hardwicke Scholar, Lincoln’s  Inn (2000)
  • Thomas More Bursar, Lincoln’s Inn (2000)
  • Pupillage Scholar, Lincoln’s Inn (2001)

Professional memberships

  • ALBA
  • Employment Law Bar Association

Privacy Notice

Francis’ Privacy Notice can be found here