The Solicitors Regulation Authority will review the full written decision clearing human rights firm Leigh Day of professional misconduct and will pay close attention to the one dissenting opinion before deciding whether to appeal.
SRA chiefs said today they had made no decision on whether to drop the case but would carefully review the reasons for the dissenting opinion, which it said was unprecedented.
Chief executive Paul Philip said: ‘The problem is the decision has not been published yet. We know one of the members dissented but we don’t know on what points. We will review the decision before deciding on any possible appeal.’
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing, which reached its verdict early last month, ran for seven weeks and is already expected to be the most expensive hearing in the tribunal’s history.
Last month the tribunal cleared Leigh Day and three of its solicitors of 19 charges. Two members of the three-person panel cleared the firm while one member, Richard Hegarty, dissented on various points - though it is not known on which grounds.
The charges related to the firm’s handling of claims in which it was alleged British troops committed atrocities in Iraq. Allegations against the firm and solicitors included late disclosure of a key document, disposal of a translation of that document, unlawful payments to a third party and not acting on the use of the word ‘bribe’ in three emails handled by the firm.
Philip said he expected that the decision would be handed down in the second half of August. He added that the regulator would take on the appeal only if it was in the public interest.