The Solicitors Regulation Authority today confirmed that it has reached an agreement to cover the costs of its appeal in the unsuccessful prosecution of London firm Leigh Day.
A statement from both parties revealed that the SRA has paid £995,000 to cover the firm’s costs. This includes £600,000 made as an interim payment in October.
The High Court dismissed the SRA’s appeal against Leigh Day and three of its solicitors following the decision of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to clear them of misconduct.
The court also made an order that the SRA should pay their appeal costs, to be assessed by the court if not agreed between the parties. Today’s agreement removes the need for any further hearing.
Last month the SRA confirmed it had spent almost £3.1m on the unsuccessful prosecution, including £222,000 investigating complaints from the Ministry of Defence, £1.9m at the SDT and £972,000 on the appeal.
The regulator has now spent more than £4m in total, equating to around £27 for every practising solicitor in England and Wales.
In October, the divisional court of the High Court dismissed the SRA's appeal, saying the tribunal was entitled to find the 19 charges unproven against the firm, senior partner Martyn Day, equity partner Sapna Malik and solicitor Anna Crowther.
The judges added: ‘There is, overall, no proper basis on which the appellate court, on established principles, can legitimately interfere with the assessment of the evidence and the evaluative judgment of the tribunal on any of the allegations which are the subject of this appeal.’
While the disciplinary proceedings have concluded, controversy over the prosecution - and Leigh Day's activities on behalf of Iraqi civilians in actions against the UK Ministry of Defence - rumbles on.
The SRA has released redacted correspondence with government departments revealing that regular updates were given to the MoD about the progress of the Leigh Day investigation. In one letter, the SRA's chief executive, Paul Philip, appears to solicit the ministry's help in the SRA's campaign to reduce the standard of proof required at the SDT.
Meanwhile last week, Martyn Day was accused by Johnny Mercer MP of being dishonest about the claims from Iraqi civilians which formed the basis of the SRA’s prosecution. Dishonesty was never alleged at the tribunal.