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Martyn Day

Partner and head of IGC department

Areas of Practice:
Martyn Day's Profile Picture
The "superb" Martyn Day is a renowned claimant lawyer who continues to be involved in significant product liability actions such as the ongoing thalidomide litigation. He is described as a "really super lawyer" by sources. – Chambers guide to the legal profession 2017
Senior partner and environment team head Martyn Day is hailed by sources as 'without question one of the most knowledgeable and experienced environmental lawyers in the country.' – Chambers and partners 2013

Martyn Day is the senior partner of Leigh Day, and specialises in international, environment and product liability claims, often as group actions.

Martyn heads a team of over 20 lawyers, representing claimants in cases against corporate and government bodies. He is well known for running many high profile and controversial cases, mostly on behalf of groups of claimants, both in this country and abroad.  Examples of his successful claims for compensation include:

  • leading what is believed to be the largest group claim on behalf of 30,000 residents of the Cote d’Ivoire against multinational oil trader Trafigura. This claim was successfully settled out of court in September 2009.
  • obtaining compensation for some 5,000 Mau Mau victims of torture at the hands of the British colonial regime back in the 1950a
  • obtaining £55m in compensation for a community of 15,000 in the Niger Delta from Shell following oil spills in 2008/9;
  • negotiating settlements for approximately 1,300 Kenyans injured or killed by British Army munitions;
  • securing compensation for 52 Colombian farmers in a claim against BP relating to the damage caused to farms in the north of the country following the installation of an oil pipeline;
  • achieving justice and compensation for thousands of former Japanese prisoners of war.  

Martyn’s current caseload includes:
 
  • representing communities in Zambia in a claim against Vedanta – in relation to alleged pollution emanating from a massive open cast mine in the Copperbelt;
  • representing a community called Bille in the Niger delta against Shell for a mutlitude of oil spills;
  • bringing claims with Chris Haan on behalf of victims of the drug, Thalidomiders in a claim against Diageo and Grunenthal.
 

Martyn qualified in 1981 with Colombotti & Partners. He moved to Clifford & Co and then Bindman & Partners in 1981 and left to set up Leigh Day & Co in 1987.

He is a Director of Greenpeace Environmental Trust and a member of the Association of Professional Injury Lawyers.

He is Co-Author of 'Toxic Torts', 'Personal Injury Handbook', 'Multi-Party Actions' and 'Environmental Action: A Citizens Guide'. He regularly addresses lectures, seminars and the media on environmental issues.

In January 2007 Martyn was named by The Times as a member of the Times Law Panel, a group of 100 top lawyers. Martyn was named on the same list in 2009 and 2012. In September 2007 The Times identified Martyn as one of the UK's most powerful and influential lawyers. In 2014 Modern Law gave him an award for ‘Outstanding Achievement’.

MD has been recommended by the Legal 500 since 2000, at which time his “outstanding reputation” was noted. In 2015 MD was mentioned in the following entries in Legal 500:

‘Well known for its ‘first class’ contentious work on behalf of individuals and groups suffering from environmental disasters, Leigh Day was the firm that brought the Niger Delta oil spill case against Shell. Martyn Day is one of the ‘market leaders in claimant litigation’.

‘Leigh Day’s breadth of leading cases, client volume, and strength in depth give it the edge over nearest rivals. The team ‘exudes confidence without a hint of arrogance’, gets the ‘balance between ‘diehard’ fighting spirit and pragmatism bang-on every time’, and ‘pushes the boundaries of the law’. Standout individuals include Martyn Day.’

Similarly, MD has been listed by Chambers & Partners as a leading individual since 1997, and as a star individual since 2011, with 2015 entries stating:

‘Senior partner Martyn Day "is absolutely at the forefront of international environment claims," sources say. He is head of the firm's environmental class action group and is recognised for his considerable experience in acting on high-profile and controversial cases. He receives emphatic praise from interviewees, who describe him as "a brilliant, strategic operator who has seen it all. He will fight anything if it is right to do so - a case you think you can't possibly win, he does."

‘Martyn Day is renowned for his cutting-edge work in the personal injury field, advising on torture claims on behalf of victims in Kenya. He is praised as "a tenacious fighter for his client's cause" and” a pioneer."

‘Senior partner Martyn Day is highly respected for his international corporate accountability and product liability practice. An interviewee said: "He is one of the most senior group action lawyers in the country – a fighter of difficult cases who has achieved some amazing results."

In April 2014 the University of Warwick awarded Martyn an honorary doctorate in law.  The spokesman from the university said:

“Martyn is identified as a star individual and described as without question one of the most knowledgeable and experienced environmental lawyers in the country.

Watch Fighting for Gemma, a dramatisation of one of Martyn's first big cases.



“He is also identified as a real fighter for his clients – he is very shrewd and does it with great charm.”

Martyn Day in the news

Lawyers Leigh Day: troublemakers who are a thorn in the side of multinationals Observer 2.8.15

Global injustices: getting access to the law is still impossible for most Guardian 21.1.15

Key cases

Accreditations

  • Chambers and partner guide to the legal profession
  • Law Society PI
  • Legal 500 2016 Leading individual

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