Human rights firm Leigh Day faced fresh criticism this weekend after two paralegals appeared to tout for business among victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The Times yesterday reported that the two employees, Harnita Rai and Sejal Sachania, had put their names to a poster which said they could provide free legal support and assistance in reviewing and completing forms.
The poster, seen by the Gazette, offers to help victims ‘kick-start any potential insurance claims and review any complex documents’. It is understood that copies were displayed around the Grenfell Tower site in the aftermath of the tragedy in which at least 80 people are known to have died in the 24-storey building.
The poster offered to meet those with legal needs on an advertised date last month and provided an Outlook email address. A disclaimer states that the two individuals do not charge for the assistance provided, but a third party ‘may charge for their services’.
The Times states the two individuals are trainee solicitors and suggests that the SRA is examining the poster. The Gazette understands they are in fact paralegals.
In a statement, Leigh Day said it had no prior knowledge of the posters until they were brought to the firm’s attention by the Times. It confirmed that a full investigation had begun under formal protocols and the two individuals concerned had been suspended while this investigation took place.
The statement added: ‘We are clear that neither of the individuals named by the Times have supplied any names to the firm as potential clients from this tragedy. Leigh Day would never have given authority for the posters or their display and we are taking this matter extremely seriously.’
The story was reported a month after Leigh Day and three of its solicitors were cleared of wrongdoing by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in relation to claims made against the Ministry of Defence by Iraqi civilians.
Senior partner Martyn Day said the firm would learn lessons from the episode and be more cautious in future about how it approached certain cases.