Frances is senior partner of Hughes Fowler Carruthers. She is a very senior and highly respected family lawyer, a former Governor at Large of the International Academy of Family Lawyers and former Vice President of the European Chapter of the International Academy of Family Lawyers.
Frances specialises in family law work, including divorce and complex children’s cases. She is also a senior mediator. Frances has been a starred lawyer in the Chambers directory and a leading lawyer in the Legal 500 for many years.
Frances is also listed in Tatler Address Book’s Advisory as founding partner and one of the leading family lawyers in their trusted network of influential and elite private client experts with “gilt-edged” expertise. She is additionally featured in Spear’s Family Law Index’s ‘Top Flight Family Lawyers’ list, where she is described as one of the “Queen Bees” in the industry and a “powerhouse of the family law world” and in Citywealth’s Leaders List of Top 10 Family & Matrimonial Lawyers.
She has been a member of Resolution (formerly the Solicitors Family Law Association) since its inception. Frances regularly writes and broadcasts on family law issues nationally and internationally. She is a member of The Times law panel and has had an entry in Who’s Who for many years.
Frances is consistently recognised by The Legal 500 and Chambers as a leading family lawyer. Chambers UK 2023 reconfirms Frances’ ranking as a ‘Star Individual’, describing her as “tactically brilliant”, and stating that she “can always see five steps ahead.” A Chambers source comments “her dealing with clients is unsurpassed. She just handles them extremely well,” while another praises her for being “fearless, tenacious and not afraid to take on cases which, at first, appear to be against her because she can spot angles that others won’t see.” Chambers UK 2022 commended her for showing “total commitment to her clients” and “inspiring enormous confidence” with them, making her “the lawyers’ lawyer in the family world”.
Frances continues to be recognised as a Star Individual in Chambers HNW 2023, with one source commenting “in my view, Frances is the best solicitor doing this area of lawyer – a complete star.” The guide further notes that “Frances is a master tactician. What is consistent about her is that she can win a case that no one else can, because from the get-go she has a strategic vision of where the case will go.” Chambers HNW 2022 describes Frances as “a force to be reckoned with…she is direct, straightforward and great at handling the most complex and tricky cases. Her ability to talk straight to clients is impressive.” Frances is also commended as “tactically brilliant; she can always see five steps ahead”. Chambers notes that “her judgement is just impeccable, she’s very clever and she’s supremely experienced. I think her dealing with clients is unsurpassed; she just handles them extremely well.”
The Legal 500 UK 2022 reconfirms Frances’ ranking in ‘The Legal 500 Hall of Fame’, noting she “has rightly bestrode the family law world like a colossus”. The directory further notes she “achieves unlikely outcomes by pure force of personality when required” and is “the most tactically astute mind in planning and executing a case, and loved by clients who feel utterly protected, and never led down the garden path”. Frances is also praised for having a “stellar reputation” which is entirely deserved and second to none and it is highlighted “she has achieved countless victories against the odds. She has an extraordinary drive and will to win which brings success where others would look to cut her their losses”. The Legal 500 UK 2021 described her as a “peerless” leader who “has been highly active advising stars in the film, music, stage and art world on a variety of financial family law applications, usually involving complex tax issues and international elements”. The Guide also praised her as a “superstar” and “a fearless litigator who consistently achieves fantastic results in cases that are too close to call”.
Frances has a keen interest in the arts, is a musician and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Frances studied English at Oxford University before qualifying as a solicitor in 1981. She set up the family law department at Bates, Wells & Braithwaite in the City in 1983.
Chambers HNW 2021 describes Frances as “a complete star”, praising her for her ability “to get quickly and accurately to the key issues in a case almost immediately. An hour of her time is probably worth more than six hours of most people’s time”. Chambers HNW also notes “she is outstanding. She has got a really great reputation and it is entirely deserved. She has a very no-nonsense approach, she is very good at cutting to the chase. She identifies exactly what clients need and then achieves it for them. She is just brilliant”.
Chambers UK 2021 highlighted that she is recognised for being “intellectually and strategically superb” , “a real force” and “highly active and effective at what she does”. The directory also noted Frances “gets the best cases and knows just how to handle them”.
Chambers HNW 2020 reconfirmed Frances’ ‘Star Individual’ ranking, describing her as one of the “doyennes of family law” and “intellectually and strategically superb” on huge-value and hugely complex divorce matters. Frances is also commended for being “the toughest divorce solicitor in the country”, by a top family barrister, adding: “She gets the best cases and knows just how to handle them. She is rightly in the star category”.
Chambers UK 2020 recognised Frances as a ‘Star Individual’, praised her highly on her “very clear strategic view of a case”, and described her as “probably the best family lawyer there is – she brings so much skill and brainpower to her role”.
The Legal 500 UK 2020 recognised Frances as a ‘Leading Individual’, describing her as “excellent” and also included her in ‘The Legal 500 Hall of Fame’.
Chambers HNW 2019 noted that “there are few people who are more experienced” and added that “what’s very impressive about her is that she gets clients’ confidence but she is in control and she really guides from the top”.
Chambers UK 2019 reconfirmed Frances as a ‘Star Individual’ and described her as a “grande dame of family law” with an “unsurpassed intellect”.
The Legal 500 UK 2019 noted she is “highly experienced” and “one of a small group of practitioners who has been conducting and shaping all the leading cases for a generation. She is clear-sighted and very tactically astute”.
Chambers HNW 2018 reconfirmed Frances as a ‘Star Individual’, describing her as a “phenomenal lawyer” who “fights hard”, with “an extremely successful practice”.
Chambers UK 2018 reconfirmed Frances’ status as a ‘Star Individual’, describing her as “undeniably one of the top family law solicitors in London”, with “a track record of excellence in some of the market’s most high-profile cases”.
Chambers HNW 2017 reconfirmed Frances as a ‘Star Individual’, described as “a real doyenne” and “the queen of the family law world”. Noting that Frances is “widely regarded as one of the most formidable matrimonial finance litigators in this market, with a serious reputation for defending her clients’ interests in difficult cases, she is up there as the best litigator”.
Chambers UK 2017 reconfirmed Frances’ position as a ‘Star Individual’, describing her as the “doyenne of the matrimonial area”.
Chambers HNW 2016 describes Frances as one of the best-known names in the family law field. “She’s the best. She’s certainly the best litigator”, comments one source, adding: “If you want a substantial piece of litigation she’s head and shoulders above the rest. She gets the most difficult cases with the highest assets but often settles cases too”. She acts for a wide range of clients and often represents notable figures in financial proceedings. Clients praise her “formidable reputation” as a “very talented litigator”. An interviewee regards her as “fearsome in her defence of her clients”. Hughes also regularly advises clients on complex pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
Chambers UK 2016 confirmed her position as a Star Individual again. “Frances has a formidable reputation as a very talented litigator and is able to fight your corner efficiently and to the nth degree”.
Chambers UK 2015 says Frances is “probably untouchable in terms of her abilities; she’s dynamic, she’s highly skilled and she brings a lot to a case”.
The Legal 500 UK 2017 reconfirmed her position as a ‘Leading Individual’, describing her as “a star in this area”, “astute and tough”, and “first-class, excellent and very client-focused”.
The Legal 500 UK 2016 reconfirmed her position as a ‘Leading Individual’ and comments on her “pitch-perfect judgement on when to take points and when to drop them” describing Frances as “indomitable and shrewd; you want her in your corner”.
The Legal 500 UK 2014 described her as “a grandee of the family law world who commands utmost respect”.
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