Arnold & Porter to defend Da Vinci Code

The London office of Washington DC’s Arnold & Porter and London firm Orchard Solicitors are preparing to do battle over Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code.

Orchard partner Paul Sutton is acting for two authors, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who claim that Brown copied substantial material from their 1982 book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. That book, like Brown’s, deals with the history surrounding the mythology of the quest for the Holy Grail.

Baigent and Leigh allege that Brown not only took material from their book, but also that he embedded his novel in the context of their work.

The case kicks off this week with a preliminary hearing on liability before the main trial, which is scheduled for February 2006. The outcome of the case could affect the release of the blockbuster movie of Brown’s novel, which will star Tom Hanks and which is due for release next May.

Arnold & Porter partner Ian Kirby is acting for The Da Vinci Code’s publisher Random House, instructing 8 New Square’s John Baldwin QC. Sutton is instructing Richard Spearman QC of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square.