Pretending to know the law is not a good idea, especially when you are among people who actually know the law. Let me explain.
Some time ago, there was a brouhaha on the OU law forum. The gist of the 'argument' was this:
A student, who started studying law approximately 20 years ago, but started at the Open University on the very beginning module of W101, made some rather outrageous claims on the LLB forum, to wit –
- that students who had a negative experience with the OU, and dared to say so on the LLB forum, were actually defaming the OU
"but to write how disappointing the end of the course was (publicly) in my opinion and after reading the rules of the forum (which every student should have done). is rather unnecessary. I would never do that and I have seen that other students are actually courteous to others (including the OU) too. Perhaps I should have mentioned all the student names I was referring to. The actual statement includes more than just defamatory:
Don’t write or share anything that is: defamatory, obscene, discriminatory, illegal, incites hatred or could damage the reputation of the University.”
When challenged, it was clear that the student did not know the difference between criticism and defamation. The student posted numerous messages on the forum, suggesting that her legal qualifications and experience were far in excess of those which a first-year student may reasonably be expected to have. When challenged, she was unable to substantiate her claims, and appeared to be pursuing an agenda of dominating forum discussions.
The starting point at which the student’s credibility was undermined, was when she asserted that she was “a practising solicitor with 25 years’ experience”, an assertion which is clearly ridiculous for someone starting out on the Level 1 LLB modules, as well as being a potential offence pursuant to Section 21 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
The student then asserted that she had represented a person at an Employment Tribunal. When asked to provide a link to the case report on the HMCTS website, she then stated that the barrister had advised that the details be kept private, which suggests that, while she may have assisted in some way, representation at the substantive Tribunal hearing was undertaken by Counsel. All of the above examples, and many others, indicate that the student inhabits a world of fantasy, in which she exaggerates her qualifications and experience out of a misplaced sense of self-importance.
Requests for proofs of her qualifications resulted in the posting of some strange documents purporting to be certificates of achievement, including some typed up in MS Comics font as well as various redacted scans and photos.
The robust challenges to the student’s outlandish claims resulted in the challengers, other OU students, being accused of – and subsequently sued for – defamation against this student's imaginary qualifications. Additionally, the student made several complaints to her local constabulary that she was being defamed on the OU forum – not surprisingly, the police did not take her seriously, and no action was taken by the police. On the other hand, the student sent approximately 110 emails in the space of a few hours, resulting in those receiving the emails reporting harassment to the police. Subsequently, a written warning was issued to the student by her local police.
The assigned Master to the lawsuit deemed that “the claim form, particulars of claim and accompanying documents are an abuse of the Court’s process or is otherwise likely to obstruct the just disposal of proceedings…”
Sadly, the penance this student now has to undergo for having grandiose ideas of her own knowledge and capabilities is likely to prove a heavy burden. Ask yourself whether the consequence of your boastings is worth the repercussions you may suffer, then… DON’T!