Francis Hoar is a top ranked public law and election law barrister. In celebration of Pro Bono Week, he discusses some of his pro bono cases from the past year.
Please tell us about the pro bono work you did
My advice and representation in pro bono cases over the last year totalled nearly one month of my billing year.
These cases included (in addition to those below):
- advice and representation in a case before the educational committee of the Privy Council on the novel question of the standing of objectors to a statute proposed by Oxford University
- protecting the visitation rights of children of residents in care homes, and
- advice in criminal prosecutions.
What impact did the pro bono work have on the people and communities you worked with?
I advised and prepared the board of a charity for parents of disabled children in an investigation by the Charity Commission.
The commission dismissed the complaint, and the charity is able to continue to provide its valuable service.
I advised and represented professionals in disciplinary proceedings before two professional bodies on the grounds of their article 9 and 10 rights to freedom of conscience and speech under the ECHR, successfully applying principles set out recently in the cases of Forstarter v CGD Europe  ICR 1] and Harry Miller v the College of Policing  EWCA Civ 1926.
In the Court of Protection and the High Court, I acted for the parents of a young adult who was immobile and unable to communicate in a dispute about whether it was in his best interests to receive medical treatment.
While the case was unsuccessful at first instance (A CCG v DC & Ors  EWCOP 2), a later judgment of Hayden J ( EWCOP 20) stayed the decision pending further expert evidence.
I was able to ensure that the parents’ views were heard and respected and that the court was alive to all relevant legal and factual issues, including that of the relevance of informed consent.
Did your pro bono work have an impact on your professional career? If so, in what ways?
The advice I gave in the professional disciplinary cases paralleled my success in a crowdfunded case in which the High Court overturned the suspension of a GP by the GMC on the grounds of his right to freedom of expression (White v GMC  EWHC 3286) and involved applying recent and developing case law in that area.
This, my Court of Protection work and other areas of practice have benefited from my experience developing and arguing important, interesting and sometimes novel points of law in pro bono cases.
Any final comments
Helping those who cannot afford representation is an essential part of the duty of the barrister to be a voice for those whose voice might otherwise not be heard.
It has been a privilege to represent a wide and interesting mix of brave, tenacious and committed citizens who together make a huge contribution to society.