The BP trial just keeps getting more and more interesting. After being fined $17.8 billion the giant oil company keeps trying to do funny stuff – even in court. A judge reprimanded BP for using tactics that would “not be appropriate for a college term paper”, after they tried to sneak in an extra 6 pages into a document by manipulating line spacings.

The ruling related to BP’s role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Photo: EPA

Truth be told, in this context BP are rookies! I wouldn’t even call that a “college level trick” – that’s clearly high school! College level would be changing the kerning (the spacing between letters), though college tricks typically involve making less text seem like more, not the other way around. The BP lawyers have much to learn! But here’s the context.

In a document relating to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP’s lawyers had to submit a response in 35 pages or less with the lines double spaced. That’s a full 10 pages over the usual limit, because the case is so important and they have to give thorough explanations. But apparently, that wasn’t enough, as the oil company “abused the page limit by reducing the line spacing to slightly less than double spaced”, fitting in an additional six pages worth of text. The court was shocked that they would go for such a cheap maneuver, dismissing the extra pages as well as  “any future briefs using similar tactics”.

Judge Barbier, who was the one who ruled the $17.8 billion fine for BP declared:

 “The court should not have to waste its time policing such simple rules—particularly in a case as massive and complex as this. Counsel are expected to follow the court’s orders both in letter and in spirit. The court should not have to resort to imposing character limits, etc., to ensure compliance. Counsel’s tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here.”

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