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Leigh Day case finally drawing to a close

7th Jun 2017

The longest-ever hearing of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is finally drawing to a close as the verdict of human rights firm Leigh Day is delivered later this week. The tribunal is set to decide whether any of the 20 allegations lodged against the firm, its senior partner Martyn Day, and its solicitors Sapna Malik and Anna Crowther are proven. The trio deny all of the charges. The decision will mark the seventh week of the hearing’s duration.

The final accusation submitted before the The Solicitors Regulation Authority closed its submissions stated that the respondents had ‘orchestrated’ the case and had changed their responses retroactively in response to impropriety allegations over their handling of Iraqi claims against the Ministry of Defence.

A list of accomplished lawyers willing to speak for the defendants’ characters has been cited by Patricia Robertson QC, defending, who also dismissed the notion that they had breached the rules of the SRA.

Allegations of late disclosure of a key document, the destruction of its translation, unlawful payments, recklessness over the conduct of a press conference and failure to act on suspicions that payments to Iraqis were bribes were all included in the list of charges.

The SRA are arguing that nothing was done to explore the possibility that the payments were bribes, despite the use of the term by both Malik and Crowther in company emails; Day also received an email that contained the word.

Robertson has responded to ask why such experienced solicitors would risk their livelihoods for the sake of only 10 cases.

‘You are being invited to buy into the notion that people would put a lifetime of ethical behaviour on the line – and their ability to continue to practise their profession – in order to hang on to that handful of clients. It just doesn’t make sense,’ Robertson said.

According to the prosecution, Timothy Dutton QC, the misconduct dates back to 2008 when Day partook in the hosting of a press conference that suggested inhumane killing and torture by British troops.

‘The idea that a press conference is an adjunct to litigation [and] something that will put pressure on your opponent is frankly disturbing,’ Dutton responded, and added that Day had gone too far in his endorsement of ‘sensationalised’ allegations.