Leigh Day appeal hangs in balance pending costs ruling

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Dec 14, 2017
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Martyn Day was cleared of breaching professional rules

Will Oliver/EPA

Regulators may decide against appealing a ruling that exonerated a leading London law firm accused of breaking professional rules when claiming that British soldiers abused and murdered Iraqi civilians during the Iraq war.

A tribunal cleared Leigh Day and three of its partners of professional misconduct in June. 

The claims of abuse led to the £31 million al-Sweady inquiry, which reported in 2014.

British troops were cleared of any wrongdoing and the professional misconduct claim brought against Leigh Day was the longest and most expensive in UK legal history.

The tribunal returned a split ruling, with one solicitor member of the panel finding that the firm and its partners, including the founder Martyn Day, had breached professional rules.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority, which brought the action against the firm and its lawyers, indicated last month that it would appeal the ruling, although officials said they would have to wait until the tribunal had made a cost order in the original case.

Lawyers for Leigh Day have submitted a claim for £7.5 million, with the tribunal due to rule on the application tomorrow. The convention in professional misconduct hearings is that the regulator does not bear the other side’s costs in failed actions.

Senior officials at the regulator are understood to be waiting to see if the tribunal awards significant costs against it. If so, a senior source told The Brief that “we would have to take a view on whether it is in the profession’s interests to appeal the original ruling”.

The regulator could also appeal the costs ruling, meaning that a decision on the substantive judgment could be kicked down the road again.

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