British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Caught for Plagiarism

by WardBlawg on April 15, 2011

A judge in the Supreme Court of British Columbia has had his $5-million judgment thrown out, apparently due to plagiarism.

Justice Joel Groves gave his ruling after an expensive 30-day trial about a brain-damaged baby. As the Vancouver Sun reports, it is “only” the fourth time in Canadian history a judge has substantially reproduced all of the submissions of a participating party in a lawsuit as reasons for judgment.

In terms of the stats, the ruling by Groves ran 368 paragraphs in length and contained, without acknowledgment, 321 paragraphs almost verbatim from the family’s lawyer’s submissions with inconsequential changes, such as replacing phrases like “it is submitted” with phrases such as “I have concluded”.

For more on this, see the Vancouver Sun story here.


While, yes, the workload on judges can be heavy and while there will naturally be some submissions that accurately reflect the approved reasoning, a salary of hundreds of thousands of pounds or, in this case, dollars does not warrant over-use of the copy and paste function.

Further, what kind of example is that for law students who could get kicked out of law school for plagiarising the work of others? Your own thoughts appreciated below.



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  • Moobs

    I have a hard job seeing this a “plagiarism”. Mummery (then P) upheld a decision of the ET in circumsatnces where they adopted Peter Wallington QC’s submissions as their grounds. He pointed out that it might give the impression to the losing side that their submissions had not been given great weight but the fact is that sometimes one party’s submissions get everything right and do it concisely. I’m not sure what the point in getting a judge to paraphrase everything might be,

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you to some extent Moobs: to brand it as plagiarism may be rather strong given that the judicial system is intended to be adversarial in nature and that the lower courts are still indeed part of the same court system.

      However, I don’t think it is the best form of judgment when more than three quarters of argument is rehashed as a decision.

      Comments on this would be welcome, particularly from members of the judiciary. I understand that there aren’t many judges, particularly UK judges, to be found on social media or blogging sites…yet!

  • Gayboy

    Your mum

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