Judges told to lose their wigs

Judges will no longer wear wigs in civil and family disputes, after the Lord Chief Justice introduced sweeping changes to court working dress.

Lawyers appearing in civil and family cases will follow the lead of the judge, and so will take off their wigs, wing collars and bands.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, also ruled that High Court judges in criminal cases will wear their winter robes all year round.

Newly appointed circuit judges will no longer receive an allowance to buy full-bottomed wigs, which are used in court ceremonies and can cost up to £1,800.

The changes will take effect on 1 January 2008, at which time the Lord Phillips will hand down a practice direction clarifying the changes.

The changes are expected to save the courts £200,000 in the first year and £300,000 annually in the following years.

Lord Phillips said: “While there will never be unanimity of view about court dress, the desirability of these changes has a broad measure of agreement.”