News

We ‘cocked up’, but it wasn’t misconduct: Leigh Day’s defence begins

By on
13

Junior solicitor in the firing line over accusations firm pursued false claims against British troops

Law firm Leigh Day has begun its defence in what’s expected to be an extremely expensive seven-week disciplinary hearing.

The personal injury and human rights outfit is contesting 19 charges relating to eight claims brought on behalf of Iraqis against the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has so far heard this week that the firm failed to check out its clients’ stories, then carried on pursuing the claims despite realising the allegations were dishonest. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which brought the case, claims Leigh Day pursued the legal challenges despite being in possession of evidence that “undermined” their authenticity.

A vital document, ‘the OMS list’, allegedly showed the firm’s clients weren’t civilians but were linked to a radical group. A solicitor faces a single misconduct charge for apparently wrongly destroying a handwritten translation of the list.

Readers may be particularly interested in this element of proceedings because the assistant solicitor accused is a junior lawyer, Anna Crowther. She was admitted to the roll in 2008 and worked at the firm’s international and group claims departments.

Is her inexperience relevant here? Timothy Dutton QC, acting for the SRA, said:

The public expects you to discharge your duties fully and one can’t say ‘I’m too junior to have appreciated the significance of what I’m doing’.

However, Leigh Day yesterday had a chance to defend itself against the raft of allegations it’s facing, including the charge brought against Crowther. According to The Guardian, Fountain Court Chambers’ Patricia Robertson QC had this to say on the matter:

No one is suggesting that the OMS list was deliberately overlooked… It’s fully accepted that the OMS list was significant. Not spotting its significance [at first] was a cock-up that’s much regretted but it does not amount in all of the circumstances to misconduct. Lawyers do sometimes miss significant documents but it was not the nail that caused the kingdom to be lost.

Continuing her defence of the firm, she told the panel her clients “frequently” represent soldiers, and that “no one here is fired up by an agenda to do down the army”. Leigh Day, Robertson also said, had brought more than 300 “successful” claims settled by the MoD; the case at hand involves just eight claims. She continued:

The idea that this is all about some sinister financial incentive just does not get out of the starting blocks.

Finding the accused — Leigh Day, partners Martyn Day and Sapna Malik, and solicitor Crowther — guilty would be “the wrong answer” and would “have a chilling effect on the willingness of lawyers to act in difficult cases.”

The hearing continues, and will likely continue for a further six weeks.

Previously:

Social media brims with anger at Leigh Day lawyers as their seven-week disciplinary hearing begins with explosive allegations [Legal Cheek]

For all the latest news, features, events and jobs, sign up to Legal Cheek’s weekly newsletter here.

13 Comments

Doc. Ludvig Friedrich Von Lowenstein

Why is social media relevant?

(3)(0)

Myspace Tom

When is social media NOT relevant?

(1)(3)

Friends Reunited Founder

I totally agree.

(1)(0)

RE THE LANDLORD ARTICLE

Aww diddums!

Did the author not like all the critical comments about his Tory scum views and therefore invite LC to delete all the comments?

Now repeat after me:

Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
🦆💩
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and stable
Strong and steady

(1)(7)

Fashion Victim who loves LC for its glamourous fashion and celebrity articles.

O yes can we have all the gossips please and who the law lords are that are going to boot the nasty lawyers out of the profession. What clothes are the law lords wearing and how many are women? Are any of them pregnant? What about Sapna and Anne?
And can we have some of the twitterati brimming with anger?

(4)(2)

Partner

I hope these b***** get fined millions.

(10)(10)

Anonymous

Are they actually trying to claim that Crowther (5PQE at the time) was too junior to understand shredding an important document is improper? Even a layman would realise that. It sounds like a pretty deliberate act…

(20)(4)

Anonymous

Or the fall guy for senior lawyers skullduggery

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Was Patricia Robertson QC able to keep a straight face when coming up with these arguments…?

(12)(3)

Anonymous

typical ambulance chasing turds

(11)(10)

Scep Tick

“Not spotting its significance [at first] was a cock-up that’s much regretted but it does not amount in all of the circumstances to misconduct. ”

Think just about the first things litigators learn is not to destroy documents. Especially originals that can destroy their case. And not to do so the day before disclosure has to be complete.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

A fair share of human rights litigation is orchestrated by radical leftist groups who deliberately go out to find people to bring claims, especially judicial review.

(0)(3)

Anonymous

A certain share of human rights litigation is orchestrated by radical leftist groups who deliberately go out to find people to bring claims, especially judicial review.

(0)(2)

Comments are closed.