why do the british wear wigs in court

The courtroom dress of British judges and barristers (which is what British people call lawyers) may look straight out of the Renaissance, but the wigs and robes are more than just a chance to play dress up. The tradition of wearing a white wig and a robe dates back to the 17th century and not much of the uniform has changed since. In 1625, an academic paper called
The Discourse on Robes and Apparel forever changed the way British high court officials. This work led to the adoption of the robe and wig as the courtroom uniform to distinguish judges and barristers from other members of society. The Discourse on Robes and Apparel law, but the conditions and even seasons for each outfit, as well. Courtroom wear isn t just boring black and white. Seasons and the type of case the color and style of robe judges wear. Robes of violet, green, black, and scarlet have served different purposes through the years, though the color requirements have fluctuated many times in the last few centuries. But robes are just half of the look. What about those wigs? The fashion trends of the 17th century helped wigs work their way into courtrooms. The headpieces were fully adopted as proper legal wear by 1685 and came with just as many strict rules as robes.


Today, both judges and barristers wear wigs, but each has their own style. are white, often handcrafted out of horsehair, and can cost thousands of pounds. Judges used to wear long, curled, full-bottom wigs until the 1780s when they switched to smaller bench wigs. Barristers wear forensic wigs which consist of a frizzed crown with four rows of seven curls in the back. What's The Point? why the robe and wig tradition has stuck around for so long. Traditionalists will tell you the uniform carries a sense of power and respect for the law. The robes and wigs also make it more difficult for judges to be identified by criminal defendants outside the courtroom. However, the desire to keep formality and an homage to the court's history has been challenged. In 2007, a case to change the dress code was brought to court, and it won. The Lord Chief Justice, Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers, stated that wigs would no longer be worn during civil or family cases and that judges need only one robe. Phillips' wanted to simplify the court dress policies, Reuters. 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, Phillips said in his statement on the suit. "After widespread it has been decided to simplify this. " The wigs and robes are still to be worn during criminal trials, but some people want the tradition to be fully wiped from the books.


A growing number of lawyers feel the dress code is outdated as a suit of armor and believe the British courts should be more focused on important issues and not on what officials are wearing. Lawyers appearing at the UK's highest court will no longer have to wear the traditional wig and gown. Supreme Court president saying it was "in line with the court's goal" to make its work "as accessible as possible". If all advocates in a case agree, they may ask to "dispense with part or all of court dress". Supreme Court justices wear no legal dress themselves already. The UK's Supreme Court (UKSC) was set up in 2009 to replace the Law Lords. The relaxed dress code would also apply to advocates appearing before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), said the statement from the Supreme Court. Judges and lawyers appearing in criminal courts still wear traditional wigs and gowns but they can be dispensed in cases involving children. The Supreme Court move followed a request by the UKSC/JCPC User Group, which represents professional users of the court, for an extension of the practice already adopted in family cases "under which advocates customarily appear unrobed".


In 2008, judges in civil and family cases in England and Wales stopped wearing wigs. A simplified design of working robes in court was also introduced. "The Justices agree that this development would further underline the Court's commitment to providing an appropriate environment for considered discussion of legal issues, and is in line with the Court's goal to make this process as accessible as possible," the statement from the Supreme Court president said. It went on: "It is anticipated that while some advocates will not wish to take advantage of this dispensation, others may prefer to reduce their legal dress to a simple gown, or to appear without legal dress at all. " The UK Supreme Court is the the last court of appeal in all matters other than criminal cases in Scotland. It was established to emphasise the separation between Parliament's lawmakers and the judges charged with overseeing legislation. It is housed in its own building opposite Parliament, unlike its predecessors which sat in the House of Lords.

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