Regulators are to appeal against a disciplinary tribunal ruling that cleared a London law firm of misconduct over its handling of false allegations of murder and torture by British troops in Iraq.
Leading counsel for the Solicitors Regulation Authority confirmed yesterday that it would appeal against the ruling, which was handed down by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in June. Three lawyers at the law firm Leigh Day – Martyn Day, the senior partner, Sapna Malik, another partner, and Anna Crowther, a junior solicitor – were exonerated in the longest case to be heard by the tribunal.
At a costs hearing earlier this week, the SRA’s barrister, Timothy Dutton, QC, of Fountain Court Chambers, announced that there would be an appeal against the core findings to the High Court. “As there are ongoing proceedings, we cannot comment any further,” a spokesman for the SRA told The Brief.
The tribunal reserved its ruling on costs, saying only that it would make a ruling in the next few days. It is understood that there is a strong chance that the tribunal will adjourn a ruling on costs until the appeal is concluded. No date has been set for the High Court hearing.
The disciplinary case – which probed in detail the law firm’s controversial handling of ultimately false claims that British soldiers had mistreated Iraqi civilians – was the most expensive in English legal history. It is estimated that a combined bill of £10 million was run up by both sides. According to a report in the Law Gazette, Leigh Day has asked the tribunal to order the regulator to bear 60 per cent of the firm’s costs in defending the disciplinary action.
A spokesman at Leigh Day said: “We remain confident in the decision reached by the SDT in June this year, but naturally we uphold the rule of law, and therefore, if the SRA chooses to appeal the verdict of the SDT that is entirely a decision for them.”