Tribunal clears Leigh Day of misconduct
All 19 allegations against firm and its lawyers dismissed by SDT
Leigh Day and three of its solicitors have been cleared of all 19 charges of professional misconduct by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
After a seven-week hearing, the SDT confirmed that the firm, senior partner Martyn Day, equity partner Sapna Malik, and junior solicitor Anna Crowther had not acted improperly or dishonestly in relation to compensation claims brought on behalf of Iraqi citizens against British troops following the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004.
The allegations, which were all denied by the defendants, included entering into 'improper' fee-sharing arrangements and personally endorsing allegations that the British Army had unlawfully killed Iraqi civilians in a 2008 press conference.
Leigh Day had argued throughout the trial that the prosecution brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority was politically motivated and that the regulator had enjoyed an 'unhealthily cosy relationship' with the Ministry of Defence.
Patricia Robertson QC, of Fountain Court, who represented the firm, said the regulator had attempted to take a 'short cut' by relying on the Phil Shiner case to prosecute her clients.
The SRA has the option of appealing the decision once the written judgment is published in August. Costs of the case are to be determined.
In response to the decision by the SDT, Martyn Day said: 'We are pleased that the tribunal has cleared us of all the charges, and confirmed our view that we did not act improperly or dishonestly in these legal claims against the Ministry of Defence.
'For nearly 40 years I have battled on behalf of the ordinary man and woman in this country and abroad to ensure they get access to justice not least when they face the might of British multinationals or government. I am very pleased that I and my colleagues can now get back to doing the work we love.
'We would like to thank our insurers and our fantastic legal team and counsel for all their hard work over the past couple of years, and during this hearing, and all those within the legal world and beyond who have given us such strong support.'
Also commenting on the decision, Iain Miller, partner at Kingsley Napley, said: 'The stakes in this process were high for Leigh Day given the seriousness of the SRA's allegations so the firm and its respondents must be hugely relieved by today's outcome. They have had an uncomfortable few weeks in the spotlight but I do not see a lasting impact on their business.
'Whether those in political circles will be satisfied by today's result is a different story. It will be interesting to see if this strengthens the hand of those calling to hand more disciplinary powers to the SRA.'
Matthew Rogers is a legal reporter at Solicitors Journal