A common expression used in business – the simple handshake – has been deemed not a violent crime following a bizarre accusation in Sydney late last year.
A woman claimed she was a victim of a violent crime when a real estate agent squeezed her hand after a Sydney property auction.
“I attended the auction of the property. The real estate agent for the unit put out his right hand and took my left hand in his. He squeezed my left hand very hard and left my hand swollen and in pain,” the woman claimed in her application to the Commissioner for Victims’ Rights.
The Commissioner, however, found that she was not a victim of any act of violence, which could have entitled her to counselling or financial grants.
The woman appealed the decision to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal which, this week, reached the same conclusion of the Commissioner of Victims’ Rights and ruled that it was not a violent act.
“There is no evidence to establish that the agent intended to assault the applicant. I make this observation based on all of the evidence including the totality of the applicant’s own evidence,” said John McAteer, a member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal accepted the agent’s explanation that he shook the woman’s hand as a gesture of farewell after an auction in May 2017.
The woman claimed that her left hand became swollen and she was in pain for several months, and that she even saw a doctor and underwent treatment before reporting the incident to police in August 2017.
At the tribunal, the woman claimed that the police report provided was grossly inaccurate and denied telling people that she had screamed when the incident occurred.
She also denied saying that she had fainted at the scene and an ambulance was called, both statements that were in the police report.
Mr McAteer from the tribunal questioned why she did not seek medical treatment earlier and found that there was no explanation for this.
“I do not find that the agent had the intention to commit a crime while he was shaking the applicant’s hand,” Mr McAteer said.
“Further, I do not find that the agent committed a crime by shaking the applicant’s hand firmly or in some other physically hard or aggressive manner.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.