Ed Sheeran copyright case judge gives illuminating insight to Perse students

Sir Antony Zacaroli KC gave an enlightening 42 lecture into the role of judges in the British court system.

As a High Court judge working in the Chancery Division, Sir Antony presided over last year’s high-profile case in which Ed Sheeran and his song-writing partners won a copyright trial, having been accused of plagiarising part of Sami Chokri track Oh Why for the hit single Shape of You.

Sir Antony began by providing students with an overview of the British court system and explained the differences in the role of judges in criminal and civil cases, as well as the part the judge plays in the UK compared to European courts.

He outlined that judges reach conclusions based on logical and calm thought processes, considering all the information in a case, by referencing it with things that are known to be true.

Highlighting the Ed Sheeran case as an example, Sir Antony said there were many matters he had to consider, such as the likelihood of the pop superstar having heard Sami Chokri’s song and the similarities and differences of the musical phrase in question, to determine whether there had been a breach of copyright.

Sir Antony also gave advice to students considering going into the legal profession with an eye on one day becoming a judge.

He said: “The ability to see the wood for the trees and decide from a vast amount of material what matters and doesn’t matter is a key skill in any walk of life.

“Another skill is thinking in a clear, ordered way. The ability to say to somebody ‘here’s the problem, here’s the solution, and here are the steps to get there’. If you can do that, you’ve mastered not only the art of advocacy, but also the art of being a judge.”


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