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“Well intentioned but ill-judged.” These are the words Mr Justice Tomlinson used to describe Gordon Pollock QC’s attempts at humour during the BCCI case. In a different age the same words would surely have applied to Mr Justice Peter Smith’s decision to insert a code of his own into his judgment in the Da Vinci plagiarism case. After all, judgments are the bedrock of our civil justice system. In the normal scheme of things, they are not to be taken lightly – and judges themselves have a habit of becoming extremely indignant when they feel that the joke is on them.

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