‘Disrespectful’ silks defy court wig ban

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Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bell accused five barristers of showing disrespect to Victorian Chief Justice Marilyn Warren by continuing to wear their wigs in court, despite the ban introduced at the beginning of this month.

“I accept the fact that you do not intent it and that you are wearing wigs by reason of principle, but I experience disrespect,” Justice Bell said in court of Paul Scanlon QC, Aine Magee QC and James Mighell QC.

High Court judges stopped wearing wigs in 1987 and in 2007, wigs were scrapped from the County Court.

Geoff Bowyer, a former Law Institute of Victoria president told the ABC that modernising court attire is appropriate and that the profession was taking time to adjust.

“I know many leaders of the bar who I believe will ultimately and very shortly accept the right, absolute right of the Chief Justice to make that direction,” Bowyer said.

“And I do believe that the bar will quickly fall into line.”

He said the modernisation is important in levelling the playing field as the number litigants self-representing, increases.

“They don't appear to be overawed or in a position of inferiority complex because someone is wearing a wig,” he said.

Barrister Aine Magee QC declined the ABC’s request for comment and the other lawyers are yet to respond to interview requests.

The chief justice declined to comment and the Bar Association is yet to respond to requests for comment.
  • Fred on 30/05/2016 5:09:31 PM

    Sorry, I'm confused. Self - represented litigants do not appear to be overawed or in an inferior position because the opponent is wearing a wig? Then why ban them? If they did, then wouldn't robes produce the same effect? Will there be a dress code for self-represented litigants as well? 🤔

  • Nathan on 30/05/2016 11:08:34 AM

    And yet, of course, counsel continues to wear wigs on a regular basis in the County Court.

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