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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK
Judges hold onto wigs and gowns
Judges generic
Judges in civil and family courts will lose their wigs
Judges and lawyers in criminal courts are to keep their wigs and gowns, after a four-year review of legal dress code.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, has announced there will be no change to the 18th Century-style garb in criminal courts.

But judges and lawyers in family and civil courts have been ordered to ditch their wigs and wing-collars.

The Judicial Communications Office said the changes would save 300,000 a year after a one-off cost of about 200,000.

That would be spent on producing a new civil gown, a spokesman said.

The decisions follow a 110,000 consultation paper on possible reforms, which was launched in May 2003.

Lord Phillips said seasonal variations in the robes of High Court judges would be abolished.

Dressing down

"After widespread consultation it has been decided to cease wearing wigs, wing-collars and bands in the civil and family jurisdictions," he said.

"While there will never be unanimity of view about court dress, the desirability of these changes had a broad measure of agreement."

A report, compiled in 2004, showed that while most judges and lawyers wanted to carry on wearing wigs and gowns in courts, the public was generally in favour of a "dressing down".

It considered the findings of a survey of more than 1,600 members of the public and 500 court users, where 64% believed court dress should be modernised.

But a poll of more than 1,000 judges and lawyers revealed more than 70% felt they were suitably dressed for criminal cases.

A smaller majority (56%) opted for judges hearing civil or family proceedings to wear a wig and gown.


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