People entering court, including solicitors and barristers, are now being asked to sip the drinks they are carrying to prove they are not filled with harmful substances or alcohol, according to a notice from the courts service.

In a notice sent to court users, and shared on social media, HMCTS said the rules, which came into force yesterday, will apply to all ‘customers’ who enter the building with an unsealed ‘drink can/carton/Costa Coffee cup/flask’.

The rules, which if flouted will result in refusal of entry to the court, will also sometimes apply to sealed bottles.

In instances where one person is ‘carrying numerous coffee cups having drawn the short straw for the coffee run’ they will have to take a sip from each container, HMCTS said.

‘Alcohol, flammable and corrosive liquids must be surrendered at the security arch and will be returned at the point of leaving the court building,’ the note said.

It added: ‘I realise that this new safety procedure may to some extent inconvenience counsel however I hope you will understand why it is necessary and will support us with its implementation.’

Responding to the notice on Twitter, Susan Acland-Hood, HMCTS chief executive, said the ‘quick sip’ approach is based on ’good security advice’ and that the alternative would be no liquids (like airports). She added that she would be setting up work to introduce photo ID for regular professional users.

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The announcement has already attracted some bemusement from court users.