Scott’s #WednesdayWisdom

28 Apr 2017

Our very own Scott Haley will be sharing one of his many fun and whacky law-related facts every last Wednesday of the month on the One Pump Court website, imparting some of his own Wednesday Wisdom to us all.

Scott joined chambers as Family Practice Manager in April 2000. He has overall responsibility for the Family clerking team, including client management, the negotiation of fees and the clerking of all members of the Family Team. With so many years under his belt, he is very highly regarded, and has a wealth of knowledge about some of the quirkier aspects of our profession.

This week Scott reveals how Barristers and the term “receiving a backhander” are linked:

“If any of you have had the chance to examine a barristers gown, you will have noticed a strange and seemingly useless triangular scrap of cloth attached to the shoulder,” says Scott.

“A number of theories exist regarding the origin of this anomaly, however the most common is that it was where the barrister’s fees were placed in the early Middle Ages.

“Apparently, it wasn’t the done thing to pay barristers for their work, and so to preserve their dignity the clients would place their payments into this pocket. Since they could not see how much they were being paid, the Barrister’s level of advocacy was not compromised or based upon financial reasoning.

“Because this was done so behind their back, it was often referred to as a backhander, and though the modern usage is quite different, it has its roots in this archaic quirk of the Bar.”

Thanks Scott – see you again next month!

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