Thursday, April 27, 2006

Legal texts can be fun! The real life Da Vinci Code drama continues.

[Summary: The judge in the Da Vinci Code plagiarism case has inserted a code into his judgement that has got the world reading legal texts for fun at last]

The Guardian reported today (27 April 2006) that Mr Justice Peter Smith, the judge in the plagiarism case brought by the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail (HBHG) against Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, has apparently inserted a code into his 71 page judgement on the case. Brown was vindicated by the judgement which ruled that he had not plagiarised HBHG.

The lawyers reviewing the judgement, living up to lawyers’ reputation for “having a keen eye for detail”, noticed odd italicisation in the text that they first thought was typographical errors (typical: blame the secretaries!). But then they worked out that the first few letters spelt “Smithy’s code”. Hmm, I wonder how they are going to record the time they spent puzzling over that one – chargeable or non-chargeable?

The lawyer who broke the first snippet of code, Dan Tench, has apparently been offered a front page spread in The New York Times if he breaks the code. So no doubt the race is on among fans – or hopeful celebrities – to beat him to it and get their 15 minutes worth of fame.

You can read the full Guardian article by clicking on this link:,,1762351,00.html

Do you want to have a go? You can get a copy at* I expect that you’ll need to drink lots of coffee and pinch yourself regularly to stay awake – my own experience of legal texts is that they are not usually edge-of-the-seat stuff!

Personally, I think all this is a conspiracy to get more people to train as lawyers and judges by selling them on the idea that writing legal papers is just like writing thrillers…

*Thanks to Lee-Anne for her great detective work in finding this link to the case for me!


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