Atkin Chambers Barristers
Frances was a solicitor until 2004, specialising in construction law. During that time she spent 6 months working in house for one of the UK’s biggest contractors. Frances started to practise as a barrister in 2004. Her construction practice is described in Chambers & Partners 2012 as “going from strength to strength”. Solicitors see her as “more than comfortable dealing with the most complex of cases” and she is appreciated for “mucking in and making herself available to discuss strategy”. Clients have described her as a “very thorough yet practical” barrister who is “magnificent in court”.
o Acting for a contractor in a claim for defective slipforming.
o Acting for a developer in a claim by a statutory undertaker for damage to a sewer following a landslide on a site in Stroud (TCC). The dispute concerned the geomechanics of the landslide and whether the sewer was truncated during the slip.
o Acting for a local highways authority in respect of a claim by the developer under a section 278 agreement (TCC). The dispute involves issues of public law and whether the authority breached its duties under the building contract (NEC 2nd edition form of contract), thus increasing the costs of the works passed on to the developer.
o Advising a sub-contractor appointed to carry out site clearance, demolition of structures, earthworks and disposal as part of the regeneration and development of an old colliery site. The sub-contract incorporated the standard form NEC3 engineering and construction sub-contract June 2005 substantially amended and supplemented, as a result of which there were onerous terms imposed on the sub-contractor.
o Appearing at trial for a subcontractor claiming rectification of a contract based on unilateral mistake (TCC). The sub-contractor made an error in his tender which the contractor purported to accept.
o Advising a local authority in connection with compensation events claimed by the contractor arising from the construction of a major public building project. The main contract was NEC 3 Option C.
o Junior on a claim against a project manager for rectification of a final account settlement agreement on the basis of unilateral mistake (CA).
o Acting for a contractor on a claim for payment due where the employer alleged common mistake.
o Appearing at trial for a contractor where the court found deliberate concealment of building regulation breaches for the purposes of limitation.
o Acting for a subcontractor (DOM2 1981 edition) in a multi-party action following the collapse of guttering on a large warehouse (TCC).
o Advising a football club on its claim in respect of design and workmanship problems at its new football pitches. The contractor’s contract incorporated the ICE 6th edition form of contract with bespoke amendments.
o Advising a subcontractor on its claim for payment of the final tranche of retention. The subcontractor had entered into a subcontract which incorporated amended DOM/2 terms.
o Appearing at trial for a demolition contractor where the issue was the value of the services provided by a structural engineer (TCC).
o Appearing at trial for a contractor claiming that a building contract was frustrated after he became seriously ill (TCC).
o Acting for a contractor facing claims for damage to an adjacent property during the demolition phase of the development (TCC). The claim included allegations of nuisance, negligence, breach of contract, breach of statutory duties, trespass, misrepresentation, directors’ personal liability and deceit. An injunction was sought to prevent further work on the development, which was resisted. An application for a freezing order was also resisted. The case settled at mediation.
o Appearing at the trial of a claim for damage to fibre optic cables on MoD land (TCC).
o Advising on contract formation where work had commenced for the construction of leisure facilities under a letter of intent.
o Advising in respect of a contract for mechanical and electrical engineering services provided as part of a golf and ski resort development in Bulgaria.
o Appearing for a builder in a claim against an employer for payment of its final account, with a cross claim of serious defects to the works (TCC).
o Acting for a demolition contractor (The National Federation of Demolition Contractors Form of Direct Contract 2007 Edition) following the discovery of asbestos at a coach station (TCC).
o Adjudication enforcement where the employer disputed jurisdiction on the basis that there was no contract (TCC).
o Acting for a lift installation contractor in a claim of defective design and installation of a lift and external lift shaft on a coastal property.
o Junior in an adjudication concerning point machines supplied for a tramway system.
o Advising a contractor in respect of allegations of defective design of a waste-to-energy plant where the contractor had been required to warrant a specified minimum output which was not met.
o Advising on and drafting a referral notice in respect of a final account dispute for a major contractor.
o Drafting a referral notice seeking a declaration as to the date of practical completion in respect of a contract for construction of corporate headquarters.
o Advising on a series of contractual adjudications arising out of the construction of a motorway. The contract was a bespoke PFI contract and the disputes concerned the contractor’s entitlement to claim additional time and money for variations.
o Drafting a referral notice for a dispute about unpaid interim payments.
o Appearing at an adjudication in respect of engineering works at a harbour.
o Drafting the response to an adjudication concerning defective work and a complex delay cross claim.
o Regularly providing ad hoc advice service to solicitors in respect of discrete issues arising before, during or after adjudications.
o Claim for breach of a tipping licence, where the contractor claimed he had been denied access to the site and had under-tipped. Cross claim for ground works that failed to follow the approved contours and breached planning permission. Issues included assessment of experts’ evidence calculating the volume and levels of fill.
o Application to stay to arbitration in connection with subcontract works at a power station.
o Claim for defective design and workmanship in respect of the renovation of a mansion in Leicestershire.
o Acting for a client in respect of a contract to acquire a centralised computer system to assist in the management of its business data, customer queries, quotations, sales, service, project management information and sales information (TCC).
o Acting for a client in respect of a contract to upgrade a hosted dialling system (TCC).
o Advice in respect of facilities management services arising from an increase in the levels of biomechanical equipment servicing required at a hospital, over and above that disclosed during the tender stage. Advice provided related to variations and misrepresentation.
o Advice on energy consumption, design defects and service level performance at a hospital.
o Advice in respect of subcontract claims arising in connection with the construction of a power station.
o Drafting contract for flue gas desulphurization plant.
o Advising in respect of the design of a revetment forming part of a commercial quay.
o Acting in a claim against a surveyor for a negligent survey of a property.
o Acting against a firm of structural engineers in respect of defectively designed foundations.
o Acting against a firm of structural engineers in respect of defectively designed foundations and floor slabs in a warehouse built on reclaimed land.
o Advising in a claim against a solicitor for the negligent drafting of a construction contract.
o Acting against a solicitor for advice given and the conduct of an adjudication and the ensuing litigation between an employer and its contractor in connection with a residential development.
o Acting against a consultant geotechnical engineer for advice provided in a report on the stability of a sloped canal embankment.
o Acting against a project manager in respect of the management of the refurbishment and conversion of a building into a dental surgery.
o Acting for a tenant in a dispute about the exercise of a break clause in a commercial lease.
o Acting for a client in a commercial dispute about a share purchase agreement where there was an allegation of fraud.
o Appearing in the Court of Appeal on a case about Part 36 offers in monetary claims.
o Acting for a client to resist an application for an order for sale.
o Acting in respect of a share purchase agreement where the claim was for deceit.
o Claim by purchasers of a property for fraudulent misrepresentation made by the vendors concerning the flooding history of the property.
o Equine cases include: defective manège construction, a claim for injury to horses during transit and advising on horse loan and sale agreements.
o Advising and acting in respect of leasehold enfranchisement claims.
o Appearing as counsel for the coroner at an inquest into a fatality on a construction site.
Hurst Stores and Interiors Ltd v ML Europe Property Ltd  EWCA Civ 490
Turner v Pryce  1 P&CR DG 20
Traditional Structures Limited v HW Construction Limited  EWHC 1530 (TCC)
Atwal v Rochester  EWHC 2338 (TCC)
L G Blower Specialist Bricklayer Ltd v Reeves  EWCA Civ 726
Dutta v Hayes  EWHC 1727 (Ch)
Frances is an associate of the CIArb, and a member of the Society of Construction Law and TECBAR
“Economic loss, transmissible warranties and extensions to the boundaries of Murphy v Brentwood” (2005) 21 Const.L.J.95 (referred to in footnote 56 at 9-057 and 62 of 9-058 of Jackson & Powell’s Professional Liability, 6th edition).
“Sharing the pain-contributions in construction disputes” In House Lawyer, August 2002
“Unforeseen ground conditions-the power of SMM7” In House Lawyer October 2002
Articles in Building in July and November 2010
LLB (Hons) 1st Class (Nottingham Trent University)
LRAM (Royal Academy of Music)
1982 Sir Edward Cooper Prize (quartet) Royal Academy of Music
1990 Sweet and Maxwell Prize Nottingham Trent University
1992 Sweet and Maxwell Prize Nottingham Trent University
1992 Runner up Observer Moot Final
1992 Winner Jessop International Moot
1992 Represented the UK in Washington DC in the Jessop International Moot