Sunday 5 December 2021

Media are reporting that Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), the Birmingham-based legal firm which has acted for hundreds of Iraqi claimants seeking damages for alleged wrongdoing by British troops, intends to close at the end of this month. The Daily Mail says that the firm has asked the High Court to make an order that it had ceased to act for 187 Iraqi claimants due to its ‘permanent closure’. In a subsequent letter seen by the Mail, PIL told its clients it was closing on August 31 and would no longer act on their behalf.

The Mail says that "the 187 cases will not now come before the courts – and neither will another 1,100 compensation claims the legal firm planned to lodge."

That assumes of course that every single one of these cases is so weak that no other legal firm would be prepared to take it up. The order reportedly sought by PIL would not extinguish the claims themselves. We understand that in such circumstances the courts are usually concerned to ensure that parties do not go unrepresented.

This dramatic development will not directly affect the 1,200 allegations of wrongdoing by troops reportedly passed by PIL to the International Criminal Court. The ICC should not intervene, however, if the UK authorities have taken appropriate action in regard to valid allegations, if any.

BAFF is watching developments, and remains ready to assist any member affected by these issues, including basic preliminary advice for any member approached by IHAT whether as a witness or otherwise.