why do they wear wigs in english courts

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. Members of England's House of Lords as well as English judges don white or gray horsehair wigs for sessions and trials. While critics periodically suggest abolishing the archaic tradition, purists point to the values of tradition and ceremony.


The balding Louis XIV adopted the wig out of vanity. When King Charles II returned from the French court, the trend spread among the wealthy of England. By 1660, judges and the House of Lords adopted the fashion of the day. England emerged from a civil war between the Crown, Cavalier King Charles II and the Parliament-supporting Roundheads, named for the shorn heads of the Puritans. With the monarchy restored, long judicial wigs made a statement against the Roundheads. A bench of judges, or lords, dressed uniformly, from wig to toe, implies a united front representing the Crownвs interest, rather than the individual interests of its members. Robes and wigs also hide details of clothing that potentially distract attention in a court proceeding. Numerous campaigns were launched to rid barristers and Lords of wigs during legal proceedings. Sir Robert Collier waged the first effort, inspired by sticky weather in the summer of 1868. As of 2010, all historical and modern attempts failed, citing tradition as the reason for continuing the practice.

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