During his semester in the London Program, Zachary Jacobson was placed with barrister Nazeer Chowdhury at Henderson Chambers in Inner Temple, where he observed a trial in the Technology and Construction Court. The case related to an oil spill in the Nigerian community of Bodo, which is bringing a lawsuit against Shell. One of the things that struck Jacobson was how different English court etiquette is from that in the US. Here are observations from the journal he was required to keep on his practicum.
“First, the bowing. Everyone bows at the judge. When he comes in, everyone stands up and bows at him once he gets to his seat. Additionally, whenever someone enters or exits the room when court is in session, he or she turns, looks at the judge, and bows. I don’t like bowing. I hope I don’t have to go to the bathroom at any point over the course of the trial.
“Second, there are no objections and [there is] no approaching the bench. Sometimes, one side will politely interrupt the person speaking to make a clarification and usually the other party is OK with this. Sometimes the person who is interrupted treats the interrupter to a sarcastic or passive aggressive comment about being interrupted, but this practice typically goes unchallenged.”