SOLICITOR advocates have been denied the right to wear wigs in the higher courts after the Lord Chancellor handed down his decision on the matter last week.
Following recent consultation on the subject Lord Mackay sent a letter to Law Society president Charles Elly saying he intended to maintain the status quo that only allows barristers to wear full court dress.
Solicitor advocates will appear in a black stuff gown with bands.
“As with the wider consultation undertaken in August 1992, there was no consensus among those individuals and organisations who responded,” says Lord Mackay's letter. “I have therefore concluded that the case for change is not made out.”
But Elly, who supports the abolition of wigs for both sides of the profession, says the decision is “indefensible” and says “it will not last long”.
“The purpose of particular court dress is to provide a uniform which identifies the role of the wearer, not to continue petty distinctions between solicitors and barristers which are irrelevant to court users,” says Elly.
“Two weeks ago a judge had to apologise for a slur on solicitors which implied that they should be seen as second-class citizens.
“The distinction in court dress will serve to perpetuate such out-dated prejudices, when the Lord Chancellor ought to have aimed to eradicate them,” says Elly.