Saturday, January 06, 2007

UK Judges Throw Off Their Wigs

The question of whether judges and lawyers in the UK should keep their famous wigs has been a hot topic of debate across the pond in the past year.

Yesterday, The Guardian reported in an article entiled Civil court judges prepare to cast aside their wigs after 300 years that a consensus seems to have emerged that civil court judges will abandon their head coverings.

However, wigs will remain de rigueur fashion in the criminal courts, at least for now:

"Criminal court judges and barristers argued that the horsehair headgear confers a degree of anonymity, protecting them from confrontations outside court with criminals, and adds to the dignity of court proceedings, helping to keep order".
The issue of wigs has been under review by the United Kingdom's lord chief justice since he took over as head of the judiciary under constitutional reforms in the spring of 2006.

Earlier Library Boy posts about British legal fashion oddities include:

  • Why Do Lawyers and Judges Wear Funny Robes and Wigs? (February 26, 2006): "If you have ever wondered about the origins of court attire in the common law jurisdictions, especially the United Kingdom, there is an interesting book out that is also available in PDF format: Legal Habits: A Brief Sartorial History of Wig, Robe and Gown. Published by Ede and Ravenscroft, suppliers of wigs and robes to the British legal profession for a few hundred years, this small volume by Thomas Woodcock covers the history of judges’ robes, barrister’s gowns and wigs."
  • More Court Changes in the UK (April 7, 2006): "The Judiciary of England and Wales has launched a new website that includes current court rulings, judges' speeches, court reports on legal issues, information on what UK judges do, and quizzes to educate the public on how the UK court system works... And yes, the website even has lots of materials on why UK magistrates have to wear those funny looking wigs."
  • Oh No: UK Judges To Lose Their Wigs! (October 3, 2006): "Apparently, according to The Times, there is lots of pressure from different quarters to get rid of the headgear that goes back to the Restoration Era of the late 17th-century. I say: No, No, No! ... The role of the Brits on this planet is to preserve silly old traditions. Give up the wigs? What's next? Driving on the right side of the road? The tabloids becoming respectable? Edible cuisine? Republicanism? "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:25 pm


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