“Extremely bright and very talented" The Legal 500
“Ms Gardner is undoubtedly considered to be one stalwarts of practitioners in this area. She is extremely bright, hard-working and a formidable opponent in court.” The Legal 500
Francesca is a specialist in all areas of health and social care. Francesca’s practice encompasses all areas of Court of Protection work, including welfare disputes, serious medical treatment, and property and affairs matters. Francesca regularly advises and acts in public law disputes arising from her specialist practice areas.
Francesca regularly acts in complex welfare proceedings and has a particular interest and experience in cases involving: cross-border placements and disputes, children and deprivation of liberty, the international protection of adults, cases involving both welfare and financial disputes, and safeguarding vulnerable adults under the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court.
Francesca’s practice is unique in that Francesca specialises in Health and Welfare and Property and Affairs within the Court of Protection.
Francesca also has extensive experience in Mental Health Law, including representing patients before the First-Tier Tribunal and Nearest Relative Displacement Proceedings. Francesca has extensive experience in cases concerning the interface between the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Francesca sits as a Deputy District Judge on the North Eastern Circuit hearing Court of Protection cases and Private and Public Law family cases.
Areas of expertise
Community Care and Mental Health
Francesca specialises and has longstanding experience in community care and mental health law matters. Francesca was previously appointed to the Mental Health Panel of accredited representatives and regularly appears before the First Tier Tribunal and advises in relation to complex mental health matters, with a particular focus on cases involving an overlap between Mental Health Law and Mental Capacity Law.
Francesca regularly advises on community care matters, including cases relating to children and vulnerable adults.
Francesca contributed to Patterson & Karim on Judicial Review (Third Edition, 2019) Healthcare Chapter.
Civil Liberties and Human Rights
Francesca regularly advises and acts in claims under the Human Rights Act 1998. Francesca as recently advised and represented the claimants in two significant and successful claims for declaratory relief and damages arising from breaches of Article 5 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Francesca recently successfully secured a settlement figure in excess of £150,000 in a claim for unlawful detention.
Francesca acts in claims for vulnerable adults and children. Francesca routinely advises and acts in claims relating to children with particular focus on breaches of the ECHR while children are placed in the care of a local authority under various provisions of the Children Act 1989.
Francesca advises and acts in relation to inquests and all aspects of Coronial Law arising from her main areas of practice. For example, Francesca routinely advises in relation to deaths in care/residential settings and deaths while a person was deprived of their liberty under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and deaths whilst detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.
Francesca is a qualified mediator. She mediates cases spanning the full range of her practice, including all areas of Court of Protection work and civil claims arising from disputes in relation to the use of and distribution of a vulnerable adult’s assets. Francesca accepts instructions in all areas of mediation, with a particular focus on her specialist areas of practice, mental capacity and mental health law and civil claims arising out of the same.
Francesca has extensive experience in all matters relating to safeguarding, both in relation to vulnerable adults and children.
Court of Protection - Welfare
Francesca has extensive experience in health and welfare matters and is recognised as one of the leading practitioners in this field nationally. Francesca receives regular instructions from public bodies (including local authorities, health trusts and CCGs), private individuals and the Official Solicitor.
Francesca regularly appears in the most complex cases before the Court of Protection. She has extensive experience in cases involving: capacity disputes, including the capacity to consent to sexual relations; residence and care disputes; allegations of sexual, emotional, physical and financial abuse and complex fact-finding hearings.
Francesca has extensive experience in cases concerning the interface between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.
Cases of note:
- KL (A Minor: deprivation of liberty)  EWCOP 24
- A Local Authority v P and CCG (Judgment on Capacity)  EWCOP 48
- A Local Authority v SE & Ors  EWCOP 44 (01 July 2021)
- A Local Authority v TA & Ors  EWCOP 22
- Re Z (A child: Deprivation of Liberty: Transition Plan)  EWHC 3038 (Fam)
- Re KC  EWCOP 62
- North Yorkshire County Council v Elliot  EWFC 37
- B v a Local Authority  EWCA Civ 93
- Re B (Capacity: Social Media: Care and Contact)  EWCOP 3
- SR v A Local Authority  EWCOP 36
- The Hospital Trust v V & Ors  EWCOP 20
- AG, Re  EWCOP 37 (6 July 2016)
- SAD & Anor v SED  EWCOP 3
- LCC v J K  EWCOP 59
- NCC v TP (Capacity of TP)  EWCOP B3
- NCC v TP  EWCOP B4
- NCC v TP (Best Interests)  EWCOP 61
- IH (Observance of Muslim Practice)  EWCOP 9 (12 June 2017)
Court of Protection - Property and Affairs
Francesca routinely advises on complex financial cases, including cases flowing from or overlapping with personal injury or clinical negligence claims.
Francesca regularly receives instructions from a broad range of clients in property and affairs work including: the Official Solicitor; professional and lay deputies; family members and public bodies.
Francesca has particular interest and expertise in cases involving the following: statutory wills; the appointment of deputies; the scope of the authority of a deputy; financial abuse; lasting powers of attorney and gifts.
In SAD & Anor v SED  EWCOP 3: Francesca represented the daughters of P in the first post-MCA case to consider the issue of capacity to revoke a lasting power of attorney (LPA). P decided with capacity to appoint her daughters under an LPA. The evidence before the court indicated that the LPA was executed to guard against the financial consequences of hypomania resulting from her bipolar disorder. P revoked the LPA, and this was challenged by the daughters. The court gave helpful guidance as to the information relevant to the decision to revoke an LPA.
Francesca routinely advises in proceedings flowing from or related to personal injury proceedings. Francesca has recently advised on the management of a damages award for a prisoner that lacks the capacity to manage the award and the management of a damages award for a young man seriously injured in a road traffic accident. Francesca has extensive experience advising in relation to personal injury and clinical negligence claims that require consideration of applications to be made in the Court of Protection in circumstances where the protected party lacks capacity, including applications to authorise any deprivation of liberty arising from the care package.
Francesca advises and represents professional deputies in relation to a range of complex matters including applications for authority to execute a statutory will in complex circumstances, suspected financial abuse, service outside of the jurisdiction, fraudulent activities of a charity and applications to dispense with service.
Francesca provides regular training in this area and has experience of providing training events and seminars to practitioners, including public bodies and professional deputies.
Cases of note:
- SAD & Anor v SED  EWCOP 3
- Re KC  EWCOP 62
Medical Treatment Cases
Francesca regularly advises and appears in medical treatment cases. Francesca also routinely takes instructions and has extensive experience in out-of-hours urgent applications. Francesca appeared for the health trust in the significant Court of Appeal decision in E & F (Minors: Blood Transfusion)  EWCA Civ 1888, which originated as an out-of-hours case.
- "Francesca is diligent, organised and timely with preparing advice and documents. She fights aggressively for her clients, forensically prepares for cases and leaves no stone unturned. She has a real ‘human’ quality and really understands and cares about the cases she works on" The Legal 500, 2023
- “A fantastic advocate who is diligent and pragmatic, with a deep understanding of how the Court of Protection works.” The Legal 500, 2023
- “She is calm, approachable and very strategic in her approach. She is also excellent in cross – examinations.” The Legal 500 2023
- “Francesca is an absolute dream to work with. She is focused, concise and always absolutely on point. She advocates fiercely on behalf of her clients and is a QC in waiting!” The Legal 500 2022
- "Ms Gardner is undoubtedly considered to be one stalwarts of practitioners in this area. She is extremely bright, hard-working and a formidable opponent in court." The Legal 500 2021
- "She is able to take a complex case and find a way to navigate through it with what seems like ease. She is methodical in her approach to advocacy, making this barrister a safe pair of hands." The Legal 500 2021
- "She is extremely knowledgeable and able to explain matters in a way that can be applied in practice." The Legal 500 2021
- "Francesca is dedicated and committed to achieving outcomes that are beneficial to vulnerable clients and their families. She is not phased by more senior counsel or complex situations and remains collected and professional at all times." The Legal 500, 2021
- “She is responsive and gets on top of papers early. She works in a collaborative way and is a pleasure to deal with.” Chambers and Partners UK 2021
- “She is kind, approachable and very reliable. She is very thorough and gets to the heart of the issue quickly. While she has a gentle manner with clients, she is a tenacious advocate and holds her own against very experienced juniors and silks.” Chambers and Partners UK 2021
- “She takes a confident and robust approach in court.” Chambers and Partners UK 2021
- “Francesca is dedicated and committed to achieving outcomes that are beneficial to vulnerable clients and their families. She is not phased by more senior counsel or complex situations and remains collected and professional at all times.” The Legal 500, 2020
- “She is an excellent advocate; she’s very easy to listen to and is very sensible and kind.” “She is wonderful and you can depend on her to get the job done. She is very thorough, her drafting is superb and she thinks very much outside the box.” Chambers and Partners UK 2020
- “She has a tremendous amount of experience and is not afraid of novel or complex issues in a case. She works tirelessly to try to ensure the right result for her client.” Chambers and Partners UK 2019
- “Francesca’s approach to matters is highly methodical and committed. She puts forward the clients’ issues and concerns with great aplomb.” Chambers and Partners UK 2019
- Shortlisted in the Legal 500 Awards for ‘Regional Junior of the Year 2018.
- “Extremely bright and very talented.” The Legal 500 2018
- “She is tenacious, eloquent, caring and incredibly talented, which means that she is in increasingly high demand for the most complex of Court of Protection cases.” Chambers and Partners UK 2018
- Shortlisted in the Legal 500 Awards for ‘Regional Junior of the Year 2017.'
- “An up- and – coming star in the area of Court of Protection, her practice includes a range of mental health and capacity cases involving deprivation of liberty, covert medication and human rights matters.” The Legal 500 2017
- “She has a clear grasp of complicated issues and the ability to convey that to clients.” “She is very clear, concise and she cuts through all the nonsense.” Chambers and Partners UK 2017