Thomas Francis

Call: 2015 (England & Wales); 2021 (ADGM Courts); 2021 (AIFC) 

“[A] very helpful response”

The Law Commission

‘Thomas has good advocacy skills and is very good at drafting.’

Legal 500, 2023

Practice Summary

Tom has a broad practice across Chambers’ main areas of work, with a focus on public, regulatory, commercial and international law. 

He has extensive experience as sole counsel and has appeared before every division of the High Court, as well as before the Upper Tribunal, First-tier Tribunal, County Court and arbitral, disciplinary and regulatory panels constituted under a range of institutional rules. He has appeared as part of larger teams before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Court of Appeal, and Investigatory Powers Tribunal. 

Tom’s clients range from detainees to businessmen, NGOs to government departments and statutory regulators to international and multinational organisations. He is ranked as a ‘Leading Junior’ and ‘Rising star’ by The Legal 500 and is a member of the Attorney General’s C Panel of Counsel to the Crown. He pairs his commercial work with a substantial pro bono practice (having been nominated for Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year).  

In public law, Tom acts for and against public bodies, with particular expertise in judicial review, inquests and inquiries and local government law, including adult social care, mental capacity and mental health. His human rights practice is both domestic and international in nature, ranging from claims under the ECHR to representations to the Human Rights Committee and other Charter-based institutions. Recent highlights include advising the Department for Levelling Up in relation to local authority working arrangements (press coverage here), appearing as sole counsel in a successful judicial review claim of the Home Secretary’s failure to provide support to an asylum seeker and her two minor dependents and acting unled against leading senior and junior counsel in several COP matters before Tier 3 judges concerning deprivations of liberty in the context of mixed capacity assessments. 

In the commercial sphere, Tom is regularly instructed by financial services regulators both in the UK and overseas. He has been seconded to the Enforcement division of the Financial Conduct Authority and has worked with its General Counsel’s Division and Litigation and Legal Review team. His wider commercial experience includes civil fraud and asset recovery; commercial contracts; conflict of laws; interim remedies including anti-suit and freezing injunctions (on which he has lectured); joint ventures; securities; and regulatory investigations into money laundering, financial crime and the fraudulent transfers of assets. 

Highlights of such work include claims under ICSID Rules concerning bond ‘haircuts’ in the context of sovereign debt restructuring; arbitrations under ICC Rules concerning upstream oil & gas companies; a mediation between a Euronex NV-listed company and a major international pharmaceutical company concerning damages for breach of a manufacturing and development agreement; a Commercial Court claim concerning breaches of a repurchase (‘repo’) agreement where the assets in question were illiquid and unmarketable; a matter before the Dubai Land Department arising out of the liquidation of a cancelled real estate project; a provisional claim under the Iraq-Japan bilateral investment treaty for recovery under a testamentary trust; and drafting for a joint venture company an investors’ agreement providing management services in the energy, infrastructure, project development and EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) sectors. Tom has also taught international commercial arbitration as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program. 

Rooted in his deep experience of the sector, Tom also has a burgeoning practice in art and cultural property law, ranging from restitution and moral rights claims to disputes in relation to title, sale & purchase, consignment, insurance and other contracts; trafficking of antiquities and other cultural objects; and the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflict. He is a member of the Council of Chisenhale Gallery, an award-winning non-profit contemporary art gallery based in London’s East End.

Before training for the Bar, Tom worked for the United Nations in Lebanon and for NGOs in Afghanistan and Egypt. As such, he has extensive experience of working – both in a commercial and human rights context – with the application of foreign law. 

In addition to England & Wales, Tom has rights of audience before the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts and the Astana International Financial Centre Court. He speaks Arabic to a professional standard and is Chair of the Bar Council’s International Sub-Committee for the Middle East, a member of its international trade, sanctions and US sub-groups and a member of COMBAR’s Africa committee. 

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