Tuesday, May 13, 2008

British Judges to Shed Wigs in October 2008

It isn't exactly a fashion update, but this Times Online report highlights yet another aspect of the modernization of Britain's judicial system:

For 300 years the wig and gown have symbolised the authority of the court. All that will change in October, when judges in civil and family cases will ditch their horsehair wigs and instead be dressed by a designer whose trademark is “funky British clothes for aspiring funky British girls”.

...The robe, designed by Betty Jackson, replaces the wig, wing collar and bands and black gown. Lord Phillips said that it was “very comfortable” and easier to get on and off, removing the need to remove collars and ties to put on wing collars and bands.

Not having to wear a wig, especially in hot weather, would be very welcome, he added. The gown is made of a dark navy gaberdine and wool mix, trimmed with velvet on the cuffs and facings. The version for women has a pleated white removable ruff.

Coloured bands incorporated in the outfit are a nod to tradition and denote seniority. There is gold for the Court of Appeal judges and heads of High Court divisions; red for the High Court judges; lilac for circuit judges when they sit as deputy High Court judges; blue for the district judges. The colour for masters and registrars has yet to be decided.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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