Sir Robert Francis QC

Associate Member

Call 1973 | Silk 1992

Sir Robert Francis QC | Call 1973 | Silk 1992

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Robert is one of the leading clinical negligence silks and is instructed by the top claimant and defendant firms and all the medical defence organisations in complex cases. His national reputation was underlined by his role as chair of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry. He is ranked as a band one silk by Chambers & Partners for clinical negligence and is described by the Legal 500 as “one of the outstanding silks of his generation.”

Clinical Negligence & Healthcare

“Robert Francis is superb. There is probably nobody better in terms of his advocacy skills, his tactical sense and his thorough approach to cases.”
Chambers & Partners

Robert appeared in Choudhury v S Central Ambulance Service and another [2015] EWHC 1311 (QB) (Lack of proven causative effect of non-administration of aspirin in case of adult stroke)

 experience & expertise

Robert has undertaken clinical negligence actions on behalf of claimants (publicly, privately funded or on CFAs) and defendants, including NHS and private bodies, medical defence organisations, and insurers continuously for over 30 years. He is frequently instructed both at first instance and on appeal in high value claims and those involving complex medical and legal issues. He frequently appears in statutory professional disciplinary tribunals such as the GMC. He also acts in the wider field of medical law, including medical treatment decision cases, inquiries, including the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry which he chaired. He has been instructed in cases taking place in Isle of Man, Cayman Islands and Hong Kong.


  • Freedom to Speak Up Review
    Chairman; report February March 2015
  • Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry
    Chairman; report February 2013
  • Independent Inquiry into care provided by Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust
    January 2005-March 2009
    Chairman; report February 2010
  • Independent Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of GB
    Chairman; report September 2009
  • Independent Inquiry into the care and treatment of Peter Bryan and Richard Loudwell at Broadmoor Hospital
    Chairman; report September 2009
  • Independent Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of Michael Stone
    Chairman; report September 2006
  • Inquiry to investigate how the NHS handled allegations about the performance and conduct of Richard Neale
    Counsel for interested party; report September 2004
  • Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry
    Counsel for interested party; report July 2001
  • Royal Liverpool Children’s Inquiry
    Counsel for interested party; report January 2001

Consent to Medical treatment / mental capacity cases

  • Re NRA and others [2015] EWCOP 59 25/9/15
    Practical consequences of requirements for court oversight of care of mentally incapacitated adults following Supreme Court decision in P v Cheshire-West and others
  • Re L (Medical Treatment: Benefit) [2005] 1 FLR 491 (Fam)
    Withholding artificial ventilation in spite of parent’s wish it should be given
  • W Healthcare NHS Trust v KH, H, PH [2004] EWCA Civ 1324
    Withholding artificial nutrition from non-PVS patient
  • R (Burke) v General Medical Council  [2004] Lloyds Rep Med 451 (Fam/Admin)
    Advance directives, life prolonging treatment
  • Leeds Teaching Hospital  NHS Trust v A & Others QB [2003] Lloyds Rep Med 151; [2003] FLR 109
    IVF error
  • A Health Care Worker v Associated Newspapers [2002] EWCA Civ 195
    Confidentiality of treatment information – freedom of press
  • B v A NHS Trust (Family Division, 22/3/02)
    Refusal of consent to artificial ventilation
  • In re A [Mental patient: sterilisation] [2000] 1 FCR 193
  • In Re MB (Caesarean Section) (1997) 8 Med LR 217
    Non-consensual Caesarean Section
  • In Re: T (a minor) (Wardship: medical treatment) [1997] 1 WLR 242
  • In re S (Hospital Patient: Court’s Jurisdiction) [1995] Fam 26 (CA)
    Custody of incapacitated patient
  • B v Croydon Health Authority [1995] Fam 26 (CA)
    Force feeding
  • Airedale NHS Trust v Bland [1993] AC 789 (HL)
    Persistent vegetative state
  • Re J (A minor) (Child in care: medical treatment) [1993] Fam 15 (CA)
    Withdrawal of treatment
  • Re A [1992] 3 Med LR 303 (Fam)
    Definition of ‘death’
  • F v. Berkshire Health Authority & Another Mental Health Act Commission intervening [1990] AC1 (HL)
    Sterilisation of mentally handicapped adult.

Clinical negligence

  • Choudhury v S Central Ambulance Service and another [2015] EWHC 1311 (QB)
    Lack of proven causative effect of non-administration of aspirin in case of adult stroke
  • Dowson v Sunderland Hospitals NHS Trust [2004] Lloyds Rep Med 177
    Causation of neonatal stroke
  • D v East Berkshire Community NHS Trust HL [2005] UKHL 23; CA [2003] 4 All ER 796; [2003] Lloyds Rep Med 552
    Duty of care in diagnosis of child abuse
  • AD v East Kent NHS Trust QB  [2002] Lloyds Rep Med 424; CA [2003] 3 All ER 1167
    Unwanted birth to mentally ill mother
  • Burke v Leeds Health Authority [2001] EWCA CIV 51 (unreported 29/1/01) Causation
  • Brown v Lewisham & North Southwark HA [1999] Lloyds Rep Med 110 (CA) Causation
  • Howard v Wessex RHA (1994) 45 Med LR 57 (QB) (proof of negligence)
  • Gascoine v Haringey Health Authority (1992) 3 Med LR 291 (want of prosecution)
  • King v Weston Howell [1989] 1 WLR 579 (CA) (negligence and costs)
  • Roberts v Johnstone [1989] 1 QB 878 (CA) (damages for costs of accommodation)

Mental Health

  • Rabone v Pennine Care NHS Trust [2009] EWHC 1827 (QB); [2010] EWCA 698 (ECHR Article 2: suicide of voluntary mental patient)
  • R (Munjaz) v Mersey Care NHS CA [2003] 3 WLR 1505; [2003] Lloyds Rep Med 534 (Seclusion of mental patients)
  • Masterman-Lister v Brutton CA [2003] 1 WLR 511; [2003] Lloyds Rep Med 244 (Capacity to manage property and affairs and to litigate)


  • GMC v Squier, MPTS Fitness to Practice Tribunal, October 2015 – March 2016 (allegations of serious misconduct in misleading evidence given in child abuse cases)
  • R (Squier) v General Medical Council [2015] EWHC 299 (Admin) (admissibility of judicial criticism as evidence against doctor in GMC proceedings)
  • Cheatle v General Medical Council [2009] EWHC 645 (Admin) (meaning of impairment of fitness to practice – effect of suspension on employment)
  • Zygmunt v General Medical Council [2008] EWHC 2643 (Admin) (Appellate jurisdiction – meaning of impairment of fitness to practice)
  • Hutchinson v General Dental Council  [2008] EWHC 2896 (Admin) (Application of standard of proof)
  • R (Dowd) v General Medical Council Admin [2003] All ER(D) 310 (serious professional misconduct – meaning)
  • Pembrey v General Medical Council [2003] All ER(D) 275 (PC) (serious professional misconduct – treatment of mentally incompetent patients)
  • R (Cream) v General Medical Council (Administrative Court, 31/1/02) (serious professional misconduct – meaning
  • R (Nicolaides) v General Medical Council Admin Ct  [2001] EWHC Admin 625 (Whether evidence untrue – serious professional misconduct)
  • Borges v General Medical Council (Privy Council Appeal No 71 of 2000) (unreported 31/8/01) (serious professional misconduct)
  • Roylance v General Medical Council [1999] Lloyd’s Rep Med 139 Privy Council (serious professional misconduct: chief executive of Trust; alleged bias of Chairman)


Sir Robert has recently reported on the following cases for The Medical Law Reports.

  • Synclair v East Lancashire Hos NHS Trust [2015] EWCA Civ 1283 [2016] Med LR 1
    Clinical negligence – Evidence – Contemporaneous record – Conflict with patient’s recollection.
  • Harman v East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust [2015] EWHC 1662 (QB) [2016] Med LR 305
    Clinical negligence – Damages – Severe disability – Education costs – Choice of private or public funding – Expert quantum evidence – Relevance of parents’ wishes.
  • Wright v Barts Health NHS Trust [2016] EWHC 1834 (QB) [2016] Med LR 545
    Concurrent tortfeasors – Liability for different tortious acts causing same damage.
  • Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] UKSC 11 [2015] Med LR 149
    Clinical negligence – informed consent – Warning of risks – Choice of treatment.
  • AM v GMC [2015] EWHC 2096 (Admin) [2015] Med LR 453
    Assisting suicide – GMC guidance – Lawfulness of discouraging doctors to assist suicide.
  • Meiklejohn v St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust and another [2014] EWCA Civ 120 [2014] Med LR 122
    Informed consent – Whether necessary for samples taken for research – Standard of care – Whether higher for clinician of national and international standing.
  • NHS Commissioning Board v Yellon [2014] EWHC 1994 (QB) [2014] EWHC 1994 (QB)
    NHS dental services – Arrangement for provision of series – Liability for breach of non-contractual terms.
  • NHS Trust 1, 2 v FG (by her lit friend, OS) [2014] EWCOP 30 [2104] Med LR 470
    Patient – Capacity – Best interests – Restraint – Deprivation of liberty obstetric intervention – When court application required.


“He brings not only his huge expertise in the field to cases, but a real understanding of what the matter means for the individuals and their families.”
Chambers & Partners

‘Particularly good on advocacy, tactics and clients.’
The Legal 500

“Robert Francis is superb. There is probably nobody better in terms of his advocacy skills, his tactical sense and his thorough approach to cases.”
Chambers & Partners

“He’s a very skilled advocate who’s very easy to listen to in really difficult cases. So clever and so good with clients, he’s utterly brilliant and one of the best-regarded silks around.”
Chambers & Partners

“A very skilled advocate with a charm that can disarm witnesses under cross-examination.”
The Legal 500

“Very persuasive in an understated way.”
The Legal 500

“A high-profile silk who led the nationally reported Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry, the findings of which were recently published with substantial implications for medical defence bodies and the wider NHS. He is excellent – a pleasure to work with.”
Chambers & Partners

“Excellent in all areas, Robert Francis QC has had much of his time taken up by public inquiries of late. It is little wonder that he is in such high demand, as solicitors describe him as a seasoned performer, who is formidable and forensically exceptional.”
Chambers & Partners

“Robert Francis QC is one of the outstanding silks of his generation.”
The Legal 500

“A silk who gets to the heart of issues quickly and heads a legal team really well.”
Chambers & Partners

“Robert Francis QC is a key name in the field, noted for his work on high-profile matters. Consistently impressive, he is very polished and presents cases well.” 
Chambers & Partners

“Amazingly modest, utterly first rate, great experience, top quality in his field.”
The Legal 500

“Robert Francis QC benefits from tremendous experience of medical law. He is praised for his gentle touch in the courtroom and his measured and dependable approach to complex cases.”
Chambers & Partners

“One of the most high-profile names in the sector. A silky-smooth and highly effective advocate, he brings experience, savvy, and an ability to think round corners to each case he handles.”
Chambers & Partners