South African court calls out lawyers for using ChatGPT references  

A woman’s lawyers have been chastised by a South African court — the Johannesburg Regional Court — for using phoney references generated by ChatGPT.

Story time: The woman sued a body corporate located in Parkwood, Johannesburg for defamation.

While the defendant’s lawyers argued that the organisation could not be sued for defamation, her lawyer, Michelle Parker, disagreed, saying that earlier rulings had addressed the matter; they had just been unable to access them due to time constraints.

Consequently, Magistrate Arvin Chaitram postponed the case until late May 2023 to give both parties enough time to gather the evidence to prove their cases.

Over the next weeks, her lawyers attempted to find the documents they had been referring to.

While ChatGPT gave them real cases and citations, the citations were for different cases entirely. Also, they were inapplicable to defamation suits between body corporates and individuals.

In his ruling, Chaitram said the names, citations, facts and decisions in the cases presented by the plaintiff’s lawyers were made up. He then ordered the woman to pay costs to the other side.

In Chaitram’s opinion, the efficiency of modern technology must be supplemented with good old-fashioned independent reading when it comes to legal research.

In somewhat related news, in June 2023, two New York-based lawyers were fined $5,000 for using fake ChatGPT cases..