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Fraser MacLean was lead counsel in the landmark ruling pertaining to Canada’s first fake case hallucinations by artificial intelligence (AI) after discovering fake legal cases.

Fraser MacLean and CHATGPT AI fake casesThe case of Zhang v. Chen, 2024 BCSC 285 involved the father’s application to have parenting time with his three children in China.

The judgment in question was around costs wasted by our client on the basis that two non-existent cases were generated by ChatGPT relied upon in the notice of application. Fraser MacLean, an alum of Thompson Rivers University and an associate with MacLean Law, spent hours researching the two cases and discovered they were generated by AI. The father’s application was dismissed, with costs in favour of Fraser’s client.

The non-existent cases generated by ChatGPT were M.M. v A.M., 2019 BCSC 2060 and B.S. v. S.S., 2017 BCSA 2162, and cited precedents of internationally located parents who successfully obtained parenting time with their children.

“What’s scary is these AI hallucinations aren’t generating ambiguous case summaries”, said Fraser MacLean when speaking to Global TV News. “These fake authorities were exactly on point and looked 100 per cent real in the summaries that were generated. It is important for both counsel and judges to be vigilant when checking for these things. It was a well-reasoned and balanced decision that gives sage guidance to the profession and the public on the issue of artificial intelligence in the legal profession.”

This case is the first of its kind in Canada and has generated a firestorm of academic and public comments about how the error happened and steps to ensure it never happens again, with a justified fear that many fake cases have already made their way into the Canadian legal system.

The respondent’s counsel was found personally responsible for costs as a result of her mistake. She was ordered to review all her files before the court, and to advise opposing counsels and parties immediately if any materials were obtained by AI tools. She was also ordered to provide a report confirming a review of the files within 30 days of the judgment.

For Fraser, this success followed a previous landslide win for our client of roughly $30,000 a month in spousal and child support in Zhang v. Chen, 2023 BCSC . The father paid this overdue sum as part of the win on the travel and costs issue.

Read more about Fraser MacLean.