‘Sip test’: Coffee-loving lawyers slam new security rules for bringing drinks into court

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By Thomas Connelly on

‘Is this really necessary?’

New security procedures rolled out this week will require solicitors and barristers to complete a “sip test” if they want to bring drinks into court buildings.

Introduced by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), the new measures will require all court users to taste unsealed beverages in order to prove the contents are harmless.

Details of the new “sip test” emerged on social media after a Coventry Crown Court official sent an email to lawyers requesting that they “support” its implementation.

The email — a copy of which was tweeted by barrister Andrew Keogh — states that “anyone refusing to comply with this request will be refused access to the court.”

Amusingly, the email goes on to play out a scenario in which a barrister (probably a pupil) has been sent to the local Costa on a caffeine supply mission. It continues:

Often, I see one member of the bar entering the court building with numerous coffee cups having drawn the short straw for the coffee run that day. I just want to highlight that this new security procedure will in such circumstances require the sip test to be conducted on all drinks and not just a single cup.

The new rules — introduced yesterday, according to the email — haven’t gone down well with many lawyers on Twitter.

Rebecca Herbert‏, a criminal barrister at 36 Bedford Row, sensibly suggested that lawyers should be given a special “photo ID”.

Echoing Herbert’s sentiments, Simon Myerson QC argued that lawyers should not be subject to the sip test.

9 Bedford Row’s Max Hardy cheekily claimed that the refreshment analysis could lead to a more intimate security check.

Meanwhile, Keogh too questioned whether the test was a step too far.

Responding to the criticism on Twitter, HMCTS chief executive Susan Acland-Hood said that the sip test approach is “based on good security advice.” However, she did note Herbert’s photo ID suggestion and reassured lawyers she would look into it.

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