10 November 2017
…17th century traditions comes to an end
By Chidiebere Ejike
The centuries-old tradition of wearing white horse-hair wigs in non-criminal cases will cease to hold among Britain’s lawyers and judges, the head of the country’s judiciary announced on Thursday.
According to the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the new dress rules would mean that the wigs, which British legal professionals have worn since the 17th century, would not be needed in civil or family court cases.
Also, wing collars and bands – white cotton strips worn round the neck – can also be dispensed with in such cases according to the reforms, while judges will need just one gown in future instead of a variety of colorful outfits currently required. But the wigs will still be worn in criminal courts.
Philip, in a statement, said, “At present High Court judges have no less than five different sets of working dress, depending on the jurisdiction in which they are sitting and the season of the year. After widespread consultation it has been decided to simplify this.”
Cerebral Lemon recall that in a review carried out in 2003, it was found that more than two thirds of respondents wanted to eliminate the wigs in civil cases, although most said criminal court judges should still wear them.
The opponents of wigs thought they were anachronistic, as well as uncomfortable and expensive. A shoulder-length ceremonial wig costs more than 1,500 pounds ($3,000) while the shorter ones worn by lawyers cost about 400 pounds each.
However, the idea of abolishing them has met with disapproval from some lawyers who feel the wigs give them an air of authority as well as anonymity.
Philips added, “While there will never be unanimity of view about court dress, the desirability of these changes has a broad measure of agreement.”