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Sir Robert Francis QC

1st April 2020


This is to announce that Sir Robert Francis QC, who has been a barrister in these Chambers since 1973 and became a Queen’s Counsel in 1992, has decided to retire from regular practice with effect from 31 March 2020.

Maintaining his links with Serjeants’ Inn as an Associate Tenant, Robert will continue to be available to undertake work connected with inquiries, reviews, investigations, mediations and employment processes, while pursuing his work as Chair of Healthwatch England, non-executive director of the CQC and President of the Patients Association. He will also continue as a Governing Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, where he is currently Reader-Elect.

Robert was knighted in 2014 for services to healthcare and patients. A leading specialist in medical law, including mental health treatment and capacity issues, clinical negligence and professional discipline, he has chaired several important health-related inquiries, including two into the care provided by Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, and the Freedom to Speak Up Review into the treatment of NHS staff who raise concerns. He has acted in many leading cases which have shaped the law and the society it reflects, ranging from the first PVS withdrawal of treatment case in 1993 (re Tony Bland, the last victim of the Hillsborough disaster) to – most recently – the Undercover Policing Inquiry (as Leading Counsel for the National Police Chiefs’ Council). He was Joint Head of Chambers from 2000 to 2009.

Robert comments, “Since I started in 1973, Serjeants’ Inn has grown from a tiny, young set into the major player it is today in medical, police and public law, as well as financial and other regulatory sectors. I am immensely privileged to have played a small part in that development. Giving up my practising certificate brings mixed emotions, but the time has come for a change of direction. I look forward to being able to contribute in various ways to the cultural learning and development of the public and private sectors. Serjeants’ Inn has been my professional and emotional home for so long; so I am delighted to be able to retain my links here. I look forward to being available to assist in inquiries, investigations and similar work.”

Angus Moon QC and Michael Horne QC, Joint Heads of Chambers at Serjeants’ Inn, comment, “The pioneer of the Duty of Candour and the Freedom to Speak Up agenda now embedded in the NHS, Robert has been a colossus bestriding the medical and legal landscapes for four decades. Serjeants’ Inn has been honoured to have him as a member of Chambers casting his gold dust for the benefit of others throughout that time. With his wisdom and warmth, we are delighted that he will continue to be so closely associated with Chambers’ life and work as an Associate Tenant.”

Robert can be retained to chair or assist with inquiries, arbitrations and mediations by contacting Lee Johnson, Senior Clerk, as usual on LJohnson@serjeantsinn.com and 020 7427 5000.


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