Copycat caught out
A Hong Kong judge has been lambasted for copying virtually all of his judgment from the claimant's submissions, resulting in a retrial of the case.
Judge Wilson Chan's ruling in a trademark dispute found in favour of the claimant, a medicinal ointment company, against seven defendants.
However, it seemed that the judge approved of the claimants submissions so much that he copied “over 98%" of the document for his judgment. "Among the remaining 2%, there is not one full sentence written by the trial judge in his own words” said the defendants.
In appealing the decision, the defendants argued that the main differences between the claimants' submissions and Chan's judgment were "cosmetic changes" such as replacing abbreviations (e.g. “Ds” with “the defendants”) and also a “wrap up” section at the end which contained orders and directions only.
Judge Chan had failed to make an independent judgment and did not provide sufficient reasons for finding in favour of the claimant, said the defendants. And his actions demonstrated a lack of "independent thinking."
The Court of Appeal agreed, commenting that it was important that judges should make independent judgments and not copy a party's submissions to an excessive degree. The appellate judges also noted that Chan's ruling had failed to mention the defendants' written submissions.
The Court of Appeal has ordered a retrial under a new judge. The Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, Andrew Cheung, completed the bollocking as he reprimanded Chan.