Defeated Gulf War syndrome firms win right to judicial review

THREE firms fighting to lead the Gulf War syndrome multi-party action, claim the Territorial Army links of one of their lawyers unfairly barred them from winning the contract.

But the consortium, made up of Donn & Co, Leigh Day & Co and Roythorne & Co, has been granted leave to judicially review the Legal Aid Board over its decision to deny them the contract to lead the case against the Government.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Dyson granted leave for an expedited hearing after the firms claimed it was “manifestly unreasonable” for the board to cite Roythorne & Co solicitor Mark Fielding's TA commission as a “potential conflict of interest”.

In July, the board awarded the contract to King's Lynn firm Dawbarns and Plymouth-based Geoffrey Stevens & Co.

The move nullified seven generic legal aid certificates awarded to the Donn & Co consortium, which has more than 600 clients on its books.

Donn & Co partner Hilary Meredith, joint co-ordinator of the Gulf War Action Group set up by the three firms, said she was “very pleased” with the judge's decision.

A board spokeswoman said the TA commission was not the only reason it awarded the contract to Dawbarns and Geoffrey Stevens & Co. She said the board had set out a “number of reasons” to the firms.

Dawbarns partner Richard Barr said the firm had been “delighted to win the contract”. He added: “We hope that it is sorted out fairly quickly.”