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John Vander Luit

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Please, M'lud, can we have the air con on?

Please, M'lud, can we have the air con on?


Lawyers feel hot under the collar during UK heatwave

As Brits revelled in the hottest June temperatures since 1976, lawyers faced the unenviable task of remaining suited and booted while their sweaty palms carried sticky bundles and heavy suitcases to and from court and client meetings.

While some workers flocked to the beach to enjoy the sea and sunshine, many in the legal profession were hard at work maintaining justice as temperatures topped 34 degrees Celsius in some parts of the UK.

As the rumoured 100-day summer heatwave began, Acas released some hot tips on how employers can manage the challenges posed by the hot weather. These included: ensure workplace temperatures are reasonable, use fans or air conditioners to keep cool at work, stay hydrated, have relaxed dress codes.

Vulnerable workers such as pregnant women or those on medication should be given more frequent rest breaks and fans or portable air cooling units should be provided. Employers should also consider a temporary change in working hours for Muslims who are currently observing Ramadan and fasting during the day.

But spare a thought for those attending court. Gareth Weetman, a barrister at 7 Bedford Row, tweeted: 'No air con at court tomorrow. On the plus side, I should have shed a stone by the end of the day.'

Meanwhile, Guy Bowden, a criminal defence brief at Red Lion Chambers, tweeted: 'Sat in an air-con free robing room drafting admissions'¦ and court security come in and close the windows.'

However, some lawyers had more luck before judges, who were more relaxed about court dress code. Regular Solicitors Journal contributor Jonathan Black, a criminal defence solicitor, tweeted: 'Sitting in court. 6 counsel appearing before judge and jury all without wigs and gowns. It is so natural. Please can we grow up into the 21st century?'

In response, Ian Phillip, a solicitor advocate and partner at Hull-based Amber Solicitors, tweeted: 'At Hull Crown Court yesterday we were without gigs, gowns and jackets. Justice still got done.'

So, will HM Courts and Tribunal Service follow Acas' lead? Can it at least put some of the money from increased court fees into the electricity meter for the air conditioning? Better take a portable fan just in case.