The legal skills that law students are expected to have developed to study the LLB course include being able to obey all general regulations as well as assessment requirements. Additionally they are expected to be able to reference appropriately, acknowledging the sources they had used to complete a task or assignment.
They are expected to portray their own workings in a dignified manner, avoiding instances that will place them in the line of fire when talking about plagiarism. These skills are important as it not only enables the student to present accurate work they had done by themselves but also allows them to grow as an individual while educating them about the rights and wrongs when it comes to submitting their own work as well as accessing the work of others. Current challenges faced by LLB first year students include not knowing how to properly draft or present their workings as well as not knowing how to correctly reference their work and give proper acknowledgement to authors they had used to conclude their work.
Challenges to the above mentioned include not only educating students but also their educators. If the process of properly referencing as well as drafting their work properly was taught to students while still in their most influential years was being instilled there would surely be less cases of plagiarism. Educators would be taught via workshop about not only how to properly handle a case of plagiarism but also how to teach children about how to avoid such a circumstance. The importance of as well as purpose of proper referencing would be to ensure that when someone used the work of an author to compile or further their case, the author of said work would receive proper acknowledgement. The importance of referencing would be so that no work is stolen or claimed as one’s own when it is clear that it has been taken from another author. Plagiarism takes place when one takes the work or ideas of someone else and tries to pass them off as one’s own as recognition is not given. Plagiarism is considered a criminal act as one either knowingly or unknowingly is in the act of stealing someone’s work without acknowledging the actual owner of the ideas or pieces of work.
As a UFS student one is expected to acknowledge the various responsibilities that one is to bare in order to avoid the act of plagiarism such as portraying as well as submitting academic material that is clear and concise, that acknowledges the sources as well as the authors used, that is one’s own work, that includes accurate citations and paraphrases and has clear evidence of independent thinking. The UFS is entitled to making the participant involved in plagiarism attend programs that assist in redirecting one’s moral compass, the student may also be reprimanded as well as having their marks modified as a form of penalisation, the student may also receive a zero for the work handed in and have a sign of notice placed within their file which could hinder their ability to find work and lastly there is the ability of the UFS to take away the degree on was going to receive, leaving the student without an award or degree.
My personal view upon the above is quite positive as it is my belief that although some of the consequences seem harsh they serve as a warning to others that plagiarism is not taken lightly and that there are serious consequences to taking a shortcut.
Upon observing the court case on February 16th 2015, I appeared before the Honourable Justice Windell who was the judge presiding over the case, J.H Nel v Marshscott 2013 SA. Judge Windell was presiding over the civil case as it was the pre-trial, the actual court date was yet to be determined and the judge was to determine whether it was to go to trial or not.
The attorneys that appear in these particular cases do so to put the points of the clients across to the judge presiding over the case so that either a court date can be set or to establish that the case does not have to go to trial. The parties included in the case were one J. H Nel and a Mrs Marshscott. The case that was observed seemed to be that of a civil matter as it was a case dealing with defamation. The issue at hand was whether or not Mrs Marshscott had received the notice of setdown and if so when and how did she receive it. It was stated that Mrs Marshscott had received the notice of setdown on February the 22nd of 2013 however no proof or evidence of this was ever brought forward it was then said that there was no wilful default on the side of Mrs Marshscott concerning the notice of setdown.