News

Lawyer sues Oxford University over claims its dictionary mixed up land law definitions

By on
34

Wants £20,500 in damages

A lawyer from Nigeria is suing the University of Oxford and Oxford University Press for apparently mixing up the definitions of ‘mortgagee’ and ‘mortgagor’ — remember that the next time you feel you’re the only one in your class who can’t get your land law terms down!

Claimant Ogedi Ogu, whose first language isn’t English, allegedly purchased the Oxford Mini Reference Dictionary and the Oxford English Mini Dictionary in the mid-2000s. He said the word “mortgagee” was there defined as the borrower in a mortgage transaction, and the word “mortgagor” as the lender.

Ogu says he relied on incorrect definitions of the land law lingo when providing legal advice, and was later corrected by a colleague who directed him to a different dictionary. The claimant says this mistake saw his colleagues stop asking him for legal advice, and caused him embarrassment and a loss of professional esteem.

The 2018 Firms Most List

Ogu is seeking £20,500 in damages over the supposed dictionary definitions mishap, and has now reportedly filed the case in the Lagos High Court. Lawyer Emmanuel Ofoegbu is representing the claimant.

Reports say that, after Ogu wrote to the defendants notifying them of his intention to bring a claim, they replied, admitting there had been a mistake. But, according to reports, the defendants added:

“Our dictionaries are made available as a reference tool only; they are never held out by OUP as being an alternative to seeking independent legal or financial advice, and we cannot take responsibility for an individual’s decision to use them as such.”

Legal Cheek has reached out to both the publishing company and the elite university for comment.

It’s understood the Nigerian lawyer also wants the court to order that Oxford University Press includes a caveat in its dictionaries making clear they are only available as reference tools.

The court is yet to fix a dating for hearing.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

34 Comments

Anonymous

No access to a land law textbook at all? At all?

(28)(2)

Beast from the east

Seems like a sensible, reasonable action that is grounded in common sense. Not vexatious at all. Idiot.

(3)(5)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(11)(2)

Anonymous

I find that my dictionary often offers better legal advice than most high street firms.

(20)(4)

HHJ

Evidence, please?

(1)(3)

Anonymous

It’s self evident.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

How has he valued his claim?

(15)(1)

Anonymous

The new car and holiday he’s after probably totals £20k

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Was his lawyer also asking OUP for just a admin fee of $1,000 to release funds from a trunk case of diamonds that it’s long lost uncle had left it?

(45)(5)

Mammy

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(3)

Anonymous

Seems a bit racist…

(0)(3)

Anonymous

It is embarrassing for OUP to make such grave mistakes! Even if the dictionary is only available as a reference tool, it should be an accurate reference tool.

(37)(6)

Anonymous

Hey girl…I think I’ve seen your picture before….Oh yeh, it was in the dictionary right next to KABLAMMMM!

(4)(6)

Anonymous

I mean the picture of the dictionary at the top has the correct definitions so its a bit misleading having the facepalm emoji on top of it

(23)(3)

Anonymous

Once sued an accountant who got “chargor” and “chargee” the wrong way round and registered a debenture against the wrong company. Caused huge loss on later insolvency.

(20)(0)

Anonymous

Woop. Tee. Do.

(3)(6)

Anonymous

Actually, it’s “whoop-de-do”.

(19)(0)

Anonymous

Surely it’s professionally embarrassing to be a lawyer relying solely on a dictionary anyway? What possible service to a client is that?

(22)(2)

Anonymous

It said his first language wasn’t English so this makes sense. Would you not use a dictionary for a language you didn’t know well?

(18)(3)

Anonymous

Fair enough, but query whether it’s really in the client’s best interests just to have left it at dictionary corner and not then checked, y’know, the law.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

I might well have done. But I wouldn’t have been giving legal advice in a language which I didn’t know well. Obviously. Are you a lawyer?

(7)(1)

Anonymous

In Nigeria the law is in English so English being his second language is irrelevant. This so called Lawyer should be censored by the court he is appealing to for incompetence. If this basic grammatical mistake was committed by him in reality ( personally I think he saw the mistake in the dictionary and is trying to take advantage of it ) what type of legal advice was he giving, his clients should so him.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

As we’re in pedants corner… this is not a grammatical mistake, it’s a semantic mistake

(2)(0)

Anonymous

And, I believe it should be “censured”, not “censored”.

(2)(0)

££££££££££££££££££££££

i hope he takes them to the dry cleaners

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I get my nails done near Old Kent Road. The area is a bit dodgy but the price is good and I look fabulous. My other half loves to lick nutella off of then.

(9)(1)

Judge Hobosexual

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Winker.

(1)(0)

Judge Hobosexual

How rude, I am a judge

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Wonder if it’ll be struck out under the court’s own jurisdiction.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Did not realize the Oxf dictionary was used by practitioners. Not “reasonable to rely” at all.

Also if the practitioner’s English is so awful that they did not know the difference between simple suffixes they really should be disbarred.

(0)(1)

Iz

Would be more interesting to see a breakdown value of his damages claim …..

(1)(0)

Arthur

Well

(0)(0)

Queeg 500

“He gets all his information on phenomenology, astrophysics and quantum mechanics from a single reference tome; The Junior Encyclopaedia of Space.”

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories