Solicitors at London personal injury firm Leigh Day are to face charges of making prohibited referral fees adding up to £75,000 as well as failing to deliver crucial documents to the Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations of abuses by British soldiers in Iraq, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed.
The firm has denied any wrongdoing.
According to the details published on the SRA website, in 2008 Martyn Day and Sapna Malik made allegations that the British Army had unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqi civilians. Among 19 counts, it is alleged that they:
- Failed to provide a copy of a key document, the OMS Detainee List, to the administrative court or the Al-Sweady inquiry.
- Continued to maintain allegations and to seek damages ‘when it was improper to do so’.
- Entered into a fee-sharing arrangement with an individual, 'Z', which was improper in that it was an arrangement for the payment of a referral fee in respect of historic cases.
- Authorised the payment of a prohibited referral fee of £25,000 to Z on or around 23 December 2008.
- Authorised the payment of a prohibited referral fee of £50,000 to Z on or around 30 March 2009.
- Deliberately acted so as to facilitate and conceal a regulatory breach by a third party and failed to report that regulatory breach.
The allegations are subject to a hearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and are as yet unproven.
A Leigh Day spokesperson said: ‘We have now been served with a formal set of charges based on some 30 files of material. Our legal team has now started the process of reviewing all that evidence. The matter is now formally before the tribunal so it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.’
Leigh Day revealed in January that it had been referred to the tribunal. It was one of two probed by the SRA after the five-year Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations reported that witnesses had given evidence that was 'unprincipled in the extreme' and 'wholly without regard to the truth'. The other firm was Birmingham and London-based Public Interest Lawyers.