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Wig era over in Supreme Court

Wig era over in Supreme Court

By Law Institute Journal


Wigs will no longer be worn by Supreme Court judges in Victoria except in exceptional circumstances. Following consultation with the Council of Judges of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Chief Justice Marilyn Warren has resolved pursuant to s9A of the Supreme Court Act 1986 that from 1 May judges will stop wearing wigs in all matters. The exception to this is when a judge presiding over a criminal jury trial considers it to be an exceptional case warranting the wearing of a wig. In those circumstances, the judge may ask permission of the Chief Justice to do so. “The wearing of wigs represents the past and does not contribute to the administration of justice in a modern court in the 21st century,” Chief Justice Warren said, adding “the Court will be keeping robes”. The County Court is considering its position on the issue, according to a spokesperson. Chief Judge Peter Kidd does not wear a wig in court. Whether barristers will continue to wear wigs is also reportedly being considered. The wearing of horsehair wigs by judges goes back to 17th century England when they were made from vegetable fibres, goat, yak and human hair. Until now, wigs have been most commonly worn in the Supreme and County Courts. High Court and Family Court judges, magistrates and tribunal members do not wear wigs. In recent times, wig-wearing has generated considerable debate.

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