Page last updated at 02:03 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 03:03 UK

Civil judges ditch wearing wigs

New civil court judge robe [Pic: Judiciary of England and Wales]
Judges in civil and family cases will wear the new robes

Judges in civil and family cases in England and Wales have stopped wearing wigs as part of a new dress code.

The judges have also started wearing a new simplified design of working robes in court, with the aim of modernising.

However judges and lawyers working on cases in criminal courts will keep their traditional wigs and gowns.

The one-off cost of supplying the new robes is estimated at about 450,000, but it is thought there will then be an annual saving of about 200,000.

The reforms were supposed to come into effect in January but were postponed because not enough gowns had been made in time.

High Court judges will wear a single set of red robes for criminal proceedings throughout the year, rather than different sets of robes for summer and winter.

Court of Appeal and High Court judges will no longer wear wigs, wing collars and bands when sitting in open court in civil and family proceedings, and will wear the new civil robe.

Otherwise there will be no change to court dress worn by judges when sitting in criminal proceedings.

Lengthy review

A spokeswoman for the Judiciary of England and Wales said: "One of the priorities of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, was to modernise the judiciary and to have a court working dress that would reflect this.

"The changes were introduced after both public and internal consultation with the judiciary in England and Wales.

"An additional benefit of the changes has been to reduce the running costs of producing and maintaining court working dress."

The change follows a four-year review of legal dress code.

A report showed that most judges and lawyers wanted to carry on wearing wigs and gowns in courts.

However, it found that the public was more in favour of a "dressing down".


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