Law firm faces disciplinary hearing over allegations arising from behaviour of British soldiers in Iraq
This week, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) began a seven-week public disciplinary hearing against the firm Leigh Day, two of its partners, Martyn Day and Sapna Malik, and one of its employees. The proceedings have been brought the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Leigh Day and three of its solicitors face a combined 20 charges, including one of dishonesty. The firm’s partners, Martyn Day and Sapna Malik, face multiple charges; another solicitor, Anna Crowther, faces one charge of destroying an original document.
The main allegation is that Leigh Day failed for more than five years to reveal that its Iraqi clients pursuing claims against British soldiers were members of a “murderous” Shia militia, the SDT was told. Timothy Dutton QC, for the SRA, said that for many years lawyers from Leigh Day misleadingly maintained that those who had been killed or mistreated were “innocent Iraqi civilians”.
In their defence, Leigh Day maintain they did not attempt to mislead a public inquiry into the affair. Patricia Robertson QC, for Leigh Day, said the law firm’s failure to recognise the significance of an Iraqi document that identified its clients as militiamen rather than civilians was a “cock-up”, rather than a lack of integrity.
The trial may break new legal ground, potentially setting limits on the extent to which solicitors need to prove allegations to their own satisfaction before they can bring them to court, according to an article in The Guardian.