Leigh Day hits back after South African action fails

Leigh Day & Co is hitting back at judicial criticism of its handling of a multi-party civil action brought by South African miners.

In his judgment High Court Judge Buckley is highly critical of Leigh Day partner Richard Meeran for not telling “the full story” about the number of potential claimants.

More than 3,000 miners are seeking compensation for asbestos-related diseases from English employer Cape, represented by Davies Arnold Cooper. Leigh Day is acting for 2,000 miners. Greater Manchester firm John Pickering & Partners represents the rest.

The judge stayed claims of all miners despite the House of Lords' ruling in December that five could proceed with claims.

The judge accused Meeran of selecting five miners for the House of Lords case, while failing to spell out the number of potential claimants.

Buckley said in his judgment: “I stop short of finding abuse of the process, but he was wrong to present the matter to the court as he did.”

Meeran tells The Lawyer: “There was a vast amount of evidence before the court showing the number of people who had been affected.”

A Court of Appeal hearing is expected in in October.

It is the second time Leigh Day has come under fire during multi-party actions. Mr Justice Wright accused senior partner Martyn Day of issuing statements of claim based on “ingenuity” during a case against Imperial Tobacco and Gallagher earlier this year, prompting Day to accuse the judge of “living in an ivory tower”, as reported by The Lawyer (26 February 1999).