Martin Day (lawyer)

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For the Scottish politician, see Martyn Day (politician).
Martyn Day
Born 18 February[year missing]
Harrogate, England

Martyn Day is the Senior Partner at Leigh Day specialising in international, environment and product liability claims, often as group actions. He was a director of Greenpeace Environmental Trust, having stepped down as chairman of Greenpeace UK in 2008.

Examples of his work include negotiating settlements for approximately 1,300 Kenyans injured/killed by British Army munitions,[1] for 52 Colombian farmers in a claim against BP relating to the damage caused to farms in the north of the country[2] and recently[when?] being instructed in relation to the allegation that the disposal of waste in the Ivory Coast has led to deaths and injuries in Abidjan[3] and Iraqis alleging torture by British soldiers.[4] He is co-author of Toxic Torts, Personal Injury Handbook, Multi-Party Actions and Environmental Action: A Citizens Guide. In April 2008 Day was identified by The Times as one of the UK's most powerful and influential lawyers.[5] In late 2014 Leigh Day was referred to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority after the Al-Sweady Inquiry found they had made false allegations against British troops in Iraq.


Day is the elder brother of Peabody Award winning documentary filmmaker Philip J Day.

Early career[edit]

He went to school at Peterhouse Boys' School in Zimbabwe before returning to England for his A-Levels and a law degree at Warwick University.[6]

Leigh Day[edit]

Leigh Day was established in 1987 by Day and Sarah Leigh.The firm's ethos is "to ensure that the ordinary person has just as good quality legal advice as our state bodies, insurers and multi-nationals." [7]

One of the UK's best-known claimant lawyers,[citation needed] Day specialises in group claims. He has secured damages in cases including a group of Sellafield nuclear workers suffering from leukaemia and the Japanese prisoner of war cases. He has also won damages claims for Colombian farmers against BP and is currently representing four of the six men injured in last year's Northwick Park drug trials. He co-founded Leigh Day & Co, where he is senior partner, in 1987.


The South Yorkshire firm Beresford[edit]

Miners and their relatives approached Beresfords to claim compensation for chronic lung problems and vibration white finger, a hand condition caused by working with vibrating machinery. The firm, based in Doncaster, advertised its services to miners and their families, distributing a yellow flyer across coalfields. It handled 97,651 claims under a scheme agreed by the old Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to compensate miners for health problems caused by work for British Coal since the 1970s.[8] But while the firm earned millions, the miners it represented won relatively small compensation payouts, averaging just over £2,000.

"This has turned out to be a bonanza for solicitors," said Geoffrey Hopkinson, son of miner George Hopkinson. Day has said of the incident, "It is no longer just the Daily Mail who call us "ambulance chasers"...[9]"I still believe that accident lawyers have a key role to play in our society and that we can get away from the "Del Boy" image of recent years. But any more miners-style sagas and our collective reputations will never recover."[10]

Notable cases[edit]

Mau Mau Uprising[edit]

Day helped to fight for the right of elderly victims of British torture during the Mau Mau Uprising to sue the UK government for compensation.[11][12][13]

Colombian Farmers V. BP[edit]

In July 2006, a group of Colombian farmers won a multi million pound settlement from BP after the British oil and gas company was accused of benefiting from a regime of terror carried out by Colombian government paramilitaries to protect a 450-mile (720 km) pipeline.[14]

BP denied that it “owed any relevant duty of care” to the claimants, stating that it “did not design, construct or operate the pipeline” and was “at no stage responsible for its maintenance". The company refutes liability for long-term environmental damage, blaming deforestation and cattle grazing for soil erosion and dismissing claims of widespread environmental damage as “significantly inflated".

Marta Hinestroza, a local lawyer who was granted political asylum in the UK after being told that her name had appeared on a paramilitary hitlist, first brought the case to the attention of Leigh Day, who negotiated an out-of-court settlement for a separate group of farmers in 2006.[15]

In June 2006 BP and the farmers met for mediation in Bogotá. On 22 July 2006 the parties announced that a settlement had been reached. The parties did not disclose the terms and amounts paid. However, in a joint statement they did announce that BP, without admitting liability, had agreed to establish an Environmental and Social Improvement Trust Fund for the benefit of the farmers, together with a programme of workshops dealing with environmental management and business development. According to press reports, the amount paid by BP was not thought to be as high as the £15 million originally claimed, but was believed to run to several million pounds.[16]

Trafigura Toxic Waste Dump[edit]

The 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump was a health crisis in Côte d'Ivoire in which a ship registered in Panama, the Probo Koala, chartered by the oil and commodity shipping company Trafigura Beheer BV, disposed of toxic waste in the Ivorian port of Abidjan.

In November 2006, the High Court of Justice in London agreed to hear a group action by about 30,000 claimants from Côte d'Ivoire against Trafigura over the alleged dumping of toxic waste from the Probo Koala.[17]

The British law firm Leigh Day, which has brought one of the biggest group actions in legal history, seeking damages of £100m. He said at the close of court in Abidjan, where he has been negotiating the settlement: "The claimants are very pleased." Over 20,000 claimants signed a petition calling for Leigh Day to have responsibility for the payments. Mr Justice MacDuff gave a ruling in October 2009 that Leigh Day should have responsibility for finalising the payments.

In September 2009 an investigation for the identity of, Mr Claude Gouhourou, who claims that he represents the 30,000 claimants. Leigh Day worked out a system for the payment of each claimant through the use of a payment card to be used at the bank's automated teller machines in Abidjan. The PINs for the cards were given out in October but just as this process was coming to an end and before the cards could be distributed Leigh Day and the bank were served with a freezing order on the account. His protest of the funds transfer insists he was one of the fifty or so representatives of the many communities in Abidjan affected by the toxic waste. In his evidence he stated that he and the other representatives had set up a coordinating association of which he was the president and that this association had the responsibility for distributing the compensation monies.[18]

On 22 January 2010, the documents provided by Mr Gouhourou to prove his case have been shown since this time to be false. The other representatives all deny the existence of any such association, the representatives who supposedly signed the association’s inauguration papers deny the signatures were theirs, and the town hall where the association was supposedly registered deny this occurred and their stamp was forged. Leigh Day have lodged criminal allegations with the Ivorian prosecuting authorities in relation to these actions.[19]

Iraq torture allegations against British Soldiers[edit]

Day successfully represented the family of Baha Mousa in a civil case bought against the British Ministry of Defence and obtained compensation for his family.[20] On 27 March 2008, the British Defence Secretary, Des Browne, admitted to "substantial breaches" of the European Convention of Human Rights over the murder of Baha Mousa.[21] In July 2008 the Ministry of Defence agreed to pay £2.83 million in compensation to the family of Baha Mousa and nine other men, following an admission of "substantive breaches" of articles 2 and 3 (right to life and prohibition of torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights by the British Army.[22]

Following the battle of Danny Boy in May 2004, it was falsely alleged that British Soldiers captured 31 Iraqis following an ambush in May 2004, before killing 22 and leaving only nine injured survivors.[23] On 21 January 2008 the Daily Mail reported that:[24]

Lawyers Phil Shiner and Martyn Day of Leigh Day are representing the Iraqis.
They travelled out to Istanbul earlier this month to meet with some of the alleged survivors and the other witnesses to the events.
Mr Shiner said today: "The testimonies of these five men taken over five days in Istanbul by myself and Martyn contain shocking material and combine to give a harrowing account of what took place.
"I have never heard such evidence in nearly 30 years of being a solicitor."
Day said: "Phil and I are clear that what took place in Majar is of massive consequence not just for the British Army and the British Government but for the British people.
"Today is the first step in ensuring what happened in Majar is brought out into the open."

On 25 November 2009, Bob Ainsworth, then the British Minister of State for the Armed Forces, announced that a retired High Court judge Sir Thayne Forbes would chair the public inquiry into allegations that 20 Iraqis, taken prisoner during the battle, were murdered and that others were tortured. The British Ministry of Defence denied that the 20 were captured, but that 20 bodies were removed from the battlefield for identification and then returned to the families, and that a further nine were taken prisoner and held for questioning but were not mistreated.[25][26]

In March 2014 the murder allegations collapsed when Public Interest Lawyers revealed they had known for a year that there was no basis to them. The Al-Sweady Inquiry found that no Iraqis had been murdered by British troops during the battle and that the allegations were based on “deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility” by the Iraqi plaintiffs and their lawyers. As a result, Leigh Day and Public Interest Lawyers (which closed in August 2016) were referred to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority for possible disciplinary action.[27]

Kenyans Killed by Left behind Munition[edit]

British soldiers have been carrying out military exercises in eastern Kenya since 1945. In 2001, the pastoral communities in the areas where the British do the exercises claimed that their people are being maimed and killed by unexploded ordnance left behind by the British.

The Ministry of Defence maintains that it has always been for the Kenyan authorities to clear unexploded devices, although it assists in the operation, and was unaware that the Kenyans were failing to make the area safe until last year. [28]

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has not accepted full liability for the 228 victims on the grounds that other armies also use the same firing ranges in Archers Post and Dol Dol, but has agreed to pay the compensation.[29]

As an author[edit]

In addition to having his cases published, Day has also written his own articles for the UK Guardian and for the Times.

22 October 2002 Why judges should not decide scientific cases

24 June 2003 Why Martyn will not be giving up the Day job

23 August 2005 Can oil and principles mix?

1 November 2005 Time to end the rich pickings for claims lawyers and insurers

11 April 2006 A dangerous side-effect of withdrawing public funding

13 June 2007 A "seminal decision" for human rights

6 November 2008 Why 'no win, no fee' is bringing access to justice

13 December 2008 Big fee, no win


  1. ^ “Britain to Pay Kenyan Victims Of Ammunition Blasts.”
  2. ^ “Colombian Pipeline Disaster.”
  3. ^ “Waste Company Harms Natives.”
  4. ^ “British Soldiers Accused Of Torturing Iraqi Prisoners.”
  5. ^ “Martyn Day is one of the UK's most powerful and influential lawyers.”
  6. ^
  7. ^ “Martyn Day: fierce advocate for the people.”
  8. ^ “ Sick miners' lawyers struck off.”
  9. ^ “Lawyers made millions from sick miners.”
  10. ^ “Big fee, no win.”
  11. ^ Casciani, Dominic (21 July 2011). "Mau Mau Kenyans allowed to sue UK government". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Day, Martyn; Leader, Dan (5 October 2012). "The Kenyans tortured by the British must now be justly treated". Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  13. ^ Cobain, Ian; Hatcher, Jessica (5 May 2013). "Kenyan Mau Mau victims in talks with UK government over legal settlement". Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  14. ^ BP pays out millions to Colombian farmers.”
  15. ^ “ BP oil giant vs. Colombian farmers.”
  16. ^ “Case profile: BP lawsuit (re Colombia)”
  17. ^ “ Case profile: Trafigura lawsuits (re Côte d’Ivoire).”
  18. ^ “ Fear over Ivory Coast ruling on Trafigura waste pay-out.”
  19. ^ “ Victims of toxic waste in despair at Court ruling.”
  20. ^ “ MoD to pay £3m to Iraqis tortured by British troops.”
  21. ^ MoD admits human rights breaches over death of tortured Iraqi civilian, Belfast Telegraph, 28 March 2008
  22. ^ "Iraqis to get £3m in MoD damages". BBC News. 10 July 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2008. 
  23. ^ “ British Soldiers Accused Of Torturing Iraqi Prisoners.”
  24. ^ Article on the website of / which is an unverified copy British Soldiers Accused Of Torturing Iraqi Prisoners., Daily Mail, 21 January 2008
  25. ^ Brown, David (21 November 2010). Army faces inquiry over ‘Battle of Danny Boy’ torture claims, The Times.
  26. ^ Staff (25 November 2009). Inquiry announced into 'Battle of Danny Boy' Iraq abuse claims, Time Online.
  27. ^ Law firm at centre of Al-Sweady inquiry to close down, say reports, The Guardian, 15 Aug 2016
  28. ^ “ Kenyan tribesmen mutilated by abandoned ammunition begin action against the MoD.”
  29. ^ “ Britain to Pay Kenyan Victims Of Ammunition Blasts.”

External links[edit]