Fiona Scolding QC
Fiona’s practice focusses upon public law challenges in a wide variety of contexts concerning both local and central government and non governmental departmental bodies. She has particular expertise in areas concerning children and vulnerable adults, with a focus upon education, the Court of Protection, healthcare, community care, equality, human rights and discrimination, but also has experience in areas as varied as immigration, prisons, social security and general public law work.
Fiona’s work for government departments has led her to develop an expertise in public procurement, and she has been involved (on behalf of the Legal Aid Agency) with many large scale challenges to procurement exercises since 2010.
Fiona has been recommended by the Legal 500 for her work in education law since 2002, and is also recommended by them in administrative & public law and civil liberties & human rights. She is recommended by Chambers & Partners for her work in education law alongside the Court of Protection and local government.
Fiona has a commitment to pro bono work. She also is on the EHRC panel counsel since 2010, and has a keen appreciation and understanding of equality and rights legislation. She was a member of the Attorney General’s B panel from 2013 to 2017.
Fiona is currently instructed as senior counsel to the Anglican and residential schools investigations on behalf of IICSA (the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse).
Fiona has 20 years worth of experience in cases concerning education law. She has a broad compass of work from the FTT to the Court of Appeal on these issues, including Equality Act claims. She undertakes work across the whole spectrum of education law, including, contract and tort matters, governance, funding, vires and structure, exclusions, admissions, funding of schools, school transport, work for universities and colleges, and further education. She is particularly noted for her work on behalf of disabled children and young adults. She works both for individuals and for local authorities, schools (both state and independent) universities, further education colleges, charities and other training providers. Fiona has been noted as a leader in education law since 2002 in both the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. She is often called upon to advise on points of principle concerning changes to the education regime. Her work on IICSA means that she has an in-depth understanding of safeguarding policies, practices and procedures. She is qualified for Direct Access and accepts instructions in this area.
Court of Protection
Fiona undertakes all aspects of health and welfare work, including medical treatment cases, and cases under the inherent jurisdiction. Fiona represent local authorities, but also the Official Solicitor, NHS Trusts/CCGs and sometimes family members. She is listed in Chambers & Partners for her expertise in this area. Recent instructions have included several cases of intractable familial disputes: whether or not life support should be withdrawn from someone in a PVS state; the medical care and treatment of disabled children when their parents were opposed to aspects of their care; allegations of factitious illness; several cases concerning the appropriate setting for those with challenging behaviour and autism; and cases concerning the withdrawal of a passport where there was a risk of someone going to Syria to fight against Daesh. Fiona has particular experience with young adults with learning disabilities.
Community Care Law
Most of Fiona’s work in this area involves children and adults with disabilities and/or the elderly. Fiona undertakes a broad spectrum of cases from multi-million pound restitutionary claim between the NHS and local authorities concerning continuing health and social care, through to claims about Continuing NHS Care Funding, arrangements of health and social care packages, breach of the Equality Act 2010 and the Autism Act 2009 concerning local authorities policies and procedures, failure to consult on closures of social care institutions to claims for recoupment of monies by local authorities where LAs claim there has been deliberate evasion of fees by deprivation of capital.
Fiona has a sub-speciality in representing kinship carers and children who are in care, mainly to ensure that they have access to appropriate services.
Recent instructions have included: advising on recoupment of sums on behalf of a number of grandparent foster carers; bringing judicial review proceedings against a local authority concerning wholesale cuts to adult social care; bringing judicial review proceedings concerning placement and care packages for adults with disabilities; advising on the legality of local authority policies in respect of various aspects of social care and advising on ordinary residence disputes. She is recommended in the local government section of Chambers & Partners for her work in this area, as well as for public & administrative law and civil liberties & human rights.
Advisory work on all aspects of public law litigation and litigation concerning the healthcare sector, for both CCGs, NHS Foundation Trusts and individuals. This has included advisory work as to the legality of individual decisions in respect of continuing healthcare; the legality of policies in respect of children with long term health conditions; the relationship between health, education and social care for children and young people; and ‘rationing’ of treatment. Fiona has also been involved with disputes with NHS England about funding specialist treatment packages and as to their approach to care planning, particularly in the context of children and young adults.
Fiona is recommended for her local government, administrative & public law, and civil liberties & human rights areas of law.
Fiona has undertaken a significant amount of work in the area of public procurement since 2010. These cases concern a multitude of issues about procurement including delay; choice of remedy; meaning of equality of treatment under the PCR 2006; nature of mistakes within tenders; what is an effective remedy; and declarations of ineffectiveness. Fiona was junior counsel in 2015/16 defending the government’s implementation of a new contract for criminal solicitors, which concerned over 115 claims run on a group litigation basis. Fiona is particularly interested in the impact of Brexit upon procurement.
In February 2017, Fiona was appointed senior counsel to the Anglican church investigation and the residential school’s investigation undertaken by IICSA. Fiona is responsible for managing a team of counsel and paralegals and also working with the research team and other members of the Inquiry on a wide range of issues.
Over the past five years, Fiona has developed expertise in the area of social security law, appearing in a number of the leading cases about personal independence payments, but also all aspects of social security benefits, including cases with a human rights or EU element. These include child support legislation, universal credit, pensions credits, employment support allowance and other means tested and non means tested benefits. Fiona is currently involved in two cases concerning social security before the Court of Appeal – one concerning PIP and one concerning payments of carers allowance to an EU national.
Fiona has undertaken work for the government concerning a variety of immigration matters, including Article 8 challenges, EEA nationals, asylum claims, deportation cases, cases concerning children and their welfare, unlawful detention, and torture. She has represented the government at the Court of Appeal and the Upper Tribunal in this area.
Other public law work
She has undertaken a variety of public law work for the Government and for individuals, charities and NGOs including cases on behalf of the DWP, the Department of Health, the Department of Education and immigration cases, to quasi commercial cases about funding. Fiona is recommended both in administrative law and in human rights in the Legal 500 for her work in this area.
Other civil claims
Fiona has undertaken civil work concerning unlawful detention, Equality Act claims concerning goods and public services misfeasance in public office. She has also undertaken breach of contract and professional negligence claims concerning schools, local authorities and universities, and restitutionary claims against local authorities/public bodies. Fiona also has conduct of claims under the Equality Act 2010 concerning race and disability discrimination and religious and age discrimination.
Fiona was instructed in 2014/15 in a multi-million pound construction arbitration concerning the refurbishment of a nuclear submarine base, which involved leading a team of juniors.
- QC 2017
- Appointed Deputy District Judge (Civil) in August 2010. Sit on the South-Eastern Circuit (East Anglia). Has Family law ticket from March 2014
- Appointed to the B Panel of Treasury Counsel March 2013 for a five-year appointment
- Appointed to the Panel of Counsel representing the Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010 – date)
- Qualified Mediator (ADR Chambers). Occasionally works as a Mediator
- Registered Pupil Supervisor
- Advocacy Trainer for Gray’s Inn
- Member of ALBA, PIBA, LCLBA, HRLA, Education Law Association, Procurement Lawyer’s Association
- Member of ELAS Executive Committee 2007 – 2013
- Direct Access Qualified
- Undertakes work for the Bar Pro Bono Unit and other organisations.
- 1991 – 1994: BA History, Downing College Cambridge – 2:1
- 1994 – 1995: Diploma in Law, City University – Commendation
- 1995 – 1996: Bar Professional Training Course, ICSL – Very Competent
Health and social care handbook – co-author Law Society, 2006
Previous editor of the Education Law monitor
Regular contributor to specialist and general journals.
“She is creative in finding innovative solutions for cases and grapples with complex areas of law without difficulty. She is a pleasure to work with.” “She has a breadth and depth of experience that makes her very good at de-escalating what can be very contentious court hearings – particularly if there are unrepresented parties.” (Court of Protection: Health & Welfare, Chambers & Partners, 2021)
“She is an excellent communicator and advocate, and is able to take on vast amounts of information and make sense of it.” “Her expertise in education, community care and mental capacity issues means that she has the ability to consider and advise on a client’s needs holistically to work out the best way forward, even in the most complex of cases.” (Education, Chambers & Partners, 2021)
“She is a delight to be against. An empathetic advocate but also very effective and constructive.” “She instils a great deal of confidence in her clients and is very down to earth. She has a breadth and depth of experience that makes her very good at de-escalating what can be very contentious court hearings.” (Community Care, Chambers & Partners, 2021)
‘Exceptionally good at digging in to an area and getting completely on top of the material so that she is to be able to answer any argument and respond to any issue.’ (Civil Liberties & Human Rights, Legal 500, 2021)
‘She is unmatched in her understanding of and ability to argue about any matter relating to children and education. Her advice is always clear, well supported and provides the client with a practical way forward.’ (Education, Legal 500, 2021)
‘She is technical, strategic, honest, practical, enthusiastic and a real joy to work with.’ (Court of Protection & Community Care, Legal 500, 2021)
“She’s very approachable and her knowledge of this area of the law is right up there. She reliably delivers what you need in a palatable way.” “She is very experienced: a great tactician and a highly persuasive advocate.” (Local Government, Chambers & Partners, 2017)
Articles and Presentations
- Exams 2021: legal issues
- Pastoral care, welfare and mental health in universities
- Universities and the pandemic: Current Issues – webinar
- The Looming Public Inquiry on COVID-19: Tips on Preparation for the NHS and Other Public Bodies – Webinar
- What needs to be shown to prove or disprove a justification defence
- Indirect Discrimination – A powerful, effective but under-used tool in tackling discrimination in the UK – Webinar
- Social Care – Part 2 – Webinar
- Asylum and Human Rights Update – Webinar
- Safeguarding In Lockdown
- Special Educational Needs During the COVID 19 Crisis – Webinar
- Public Examinations 2020 – Webinar
- Ofqual Consultation
- Community Governance
- What do I do? Answering requests from a public inquiry
- HERA and Siddiqui
- Learning lessons from NHS procurement litigation: a case study
- Strategy for Defendants: How to dig yourselves out of a hole
- Equality Act: Al Hijrah and ors