Tag Archives: Brief writing

Avoid plagiarism: A respondent may adopt the brief of a co-respondent.


Opeyemi v. Owoeye [2017] 12 NWLR (Pt. 1580) 364 at 393, paras. E-G, per Bage, JSC:

“Let me pause to register our observation on the duplicitous briefs of the two respondents, which are similar in content and context, appearing verbatim and serialization as in the examples of pages 5-9 of the arguments on issue one. This is a point to note in advocacy and brief writing. The 2nd respondent, knowing it has nothing different to canvass in its brief would at best have adopted or rested its position on that of the claimant/respondent as against seeming and obvious plagiarism. We reckon with the date of filing as against purposive dates the documents were signed. The 1st respondent’s brief is dated 24th June, 2013 while the date of the 2nd respondent’s brief is 13th May, 2014 and filed on 5th May, 2014, almost a year after the 1st respondent’s brief which it copied almost verbatim. It paints a picture of a needless, afterthought recourse of a less diligent legal officer.”

Blogger’s Note

Interestingly, the learned Justice of the Supreme Court described the act of the 2nd Respondent as plagiarism. It is doubtful though, if this is actionable plagiarism.

The apex Court has correctly directed on the proper thing to do where a respondent entirely agrees with the arguments in the brief of a co-respondent. This is mostly where the respondents are being represented by different counsel.

Usually, what inspires the approach of counsel such as counsel to the 2nd Respondent is the drive to file something and ensure that he earns his fees. In this wise, the more professional thing to do is to be more diligent by adding something significant to the co-respondent’s brief, whose arguments he largely agrees with. That way, he would have filed a brief of some substance that will further assist the court in determining the case. Otherwise, a mere verbatim copy of a co-respondent’s brief may actually waste the time of the court considering the duplicity.

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