Why don’t barristers shake hands!?

28 Jun 2017

Why barristers don’t shake hands.

The custom dates back to sword-bearing times, when a handshake was considered a way to demonstrate to a person that you were not armed. By gripping each other by the right hand you were showing them that your hand wasn’t on the hilt of your sword. Since barristers were gentleman, they trusted each other implicitly, and therefore there was no need to shake hands. There is also an argument that you don’t shake hands to show that the prosecution and defence are not in collusion with one another.

Bear hugs, high fives and fist bumps are also unacceptable forms of greeting. However, this has its benefits as it means that you don’t find yourself in awkward situations such as Jeremy Corbyn did recently (below), where he was left hanging and ended up hitting Emily Thornberry in the chest.

The tradition of no handshaking has kept going, although depending on which part of London you may be from, swords have been replaced by frothy cappuccinos or fidget spinners.

To read the full article, as featured in Lawyer Monthly, click here.

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