The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing into the conduct of three members of high-profile human rights firm Leigh Day is likely to take a record 30 days, it emerged today.
The tribunal this morning fixed the hearing to start on the first available date from 6 March next year next year. It is listed to run over a seven-week period.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority is prosecuting senior partner Martyn Jeremy Day (pictured), partner Sapna Malik and assistant solicitor Anna Crowther. The firm itself is also listed as a respondent.
The charges relate to claims brought by the firm that the British Army had unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqi civilians.
The SRA investigation was started after the five-year Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations of mistrteatment reported that witnesses had given evidence that was ‘unprincipled in the extreme’ and ‘wholly without regard to the truth’.
Today’s case management hearing revealed that the SRA is handling 20,000 documents relating to the case.
The tribunal also established that Leigh Day can have limited access to 30,000 more documents involved in the investigation of a separate firm, believed to be Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers.
The Leigh Day hearing is likely to be one of the longest-running cases in the SDT’s history. According to the 2014/15 annual report , last year the tribunal heard two cases that ran to an unprecedented 16 days of hearings, with one further case running to 11 days.
In total, Day and Malik are subject to 19 allegations, including making prohibited referral fees adding up to £75,000 and failing to deliver crucial documents to the Al-Sweady inquiry.
The allegations also include that the pair continued to maintain allegations and to seek damages ‘when it was improper to do so’.
Allegations relating to Crowther have not been published by the SRA.
The firm has always denied wrongdoing. When charges were published last month, 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.’