Francesca Gabbitas


Head of Mental Capacity Department

Key Lawyer

Legal 500 Court of Protection 2021

Francesca specialises in the areas of Mental Capacity, Community Care and matters dealt with under the inherent jurisdiction. Francesca is a member of the Law Society’s Mental Capacity (welfare) accreditation scheme and is an Accredited Legal Representative. She is regularly instructed directly by individuals and on behalf of ‘Protected Persons’ through paid representatives and the Official Solicitor in complex disputes in the Court of Protection and the High Court.

Francesca has experience representing clients with very complex disabilities including acquired brain injuries, mental health issues and severe autism, as well as clients with communication difficulties.

Francesca specialises in all welfare matters for vulnerable individuals such as issues relating to a person’s deprivation of liberty and decisions regarding their care and residence. Francesca also has significant knowledge and experience in best interests disputes including those with extremely complex dynamics such as safeguarding matters, contact, access to the internet and social media, consent to sexual relations and access to medical treatment and medication. Francesca’s matters have had notably complex capacity issues where P has a very rare diagnosis or has been assessed as having fluctuating or borderline or capacity, or where P has capacity to make some decisions but not others,

Francesca also regularly represents family members recently acting in a case where she represented P’s husband in a linked matter being heard across the Family Courts, Court of Protection and Inherent Jurisdiction to determine P’s capacity to marry and engage in sexual relations, raising complex issues of cultural differences and relevant information. Francesca has also advised clients and was part of a media review into family members’ access to loved ones in care homes which resulted in the CQC providing updating guidance on the issue.

Notable Cases:

LBB and NB, SA, AD, MB (by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor), SB

Francesca acted for P’s father, in a complex s.16 matter relating to the care of P at home. Senior Judge Hilder presided over the case in considering whether it was in the best interests of P, a 22 year old with dyskinetic tetraplegic cerebral palsy, to undertake a 12-week period of intensive support and assessment at a rehabilitation centre. The case raised important arguments as to capacity and the judgment contains a detailed review of how the Court considers best interests of P fits within an intractable dispute between care givers and a family member.