Our Team » Fran McDonald

Fran McDonald


Fran is a UK-qualified barrister who recently moved from London to Nelson after 18 years’ experience as a trial lawyer and specialist counsel.


After being awarded a First in Law, Fran completed his training at the Inns of Court School of Law, London in 2000.  From 2000 until 2018, he completed pupillage and then practised as a barrister at two leading London chambers. He remains a member of Old Square Chambers.


Primarily an advocate, Fran was instructed by most of the top UK firms of solicitors representing insurers, other corporate entities, government entities and individuals in a wide range of matters including health and safety prosecutions, planning enquiries and inquests. However, Fran was usually instructed in civil claims where he appeared at all levels up to and including the English Court of Appeal, whose judgment stated they were ‘especially grateful’ for his ‘valuable oral submissions’, ‘considerable skill’ and ‘excellent skeleton argument’ on his first appearance.


Fran’s main specialism in Nelson is issues relating to employment law. After completion of his exams in the new year he will resume practice over his full range of contentious interests including tort law (negligence, trespass etc), insurance, commercial/contractual disputes, professional liability, property disputes, medico-legal matters, engineering and construction and health and safety legislation.


Many of his cases over the years have had a nautical theme such as claims involving distraint of containerised goods, allisions or breach of contract especially where jurisdictional/conflict of laws questions arose. Fran is equally happy to bring or defend claims. For example, he acted for UK Marines injured on the battlefield at the same time as being counsel for over 1,200 Iraqis alleging they were imprisoned, tortured or had family members murdered by UK forces.


Fran continues to act in professional negligence claims based in Trinidad and Tobago, where he works closely with leading QCs and local practitioners. He has appeared both in the High Court and Court of Appeal in Port of Spain on multiple occasions.


"Forbidden Treasure"

Justine Inns, Oceanlaw New Zealand, and Fran McDonald, Barrister (England and Wales qualified), write about a case revolving around adaptive management and marine taonga.
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Position: Consultant
Mobile:027 544 5019
Email: fran@hflaw.co.nz