Wigmakers defiant as judges prepare for new image

Wigmakers are keeping tight-lipped over the latest threat to their livelihood as judges prepare to scrap their wigs in civil court cases.

The move will end more than 300 years of legal tradition in civil cases, but the criminal court will continue to don the horsehair head gear, while commercial lawyers have already removed their wigs.

The prestigious wigmakers at Ede and Ravenscroft kept their mouths zipped shut when asked by The Lawyer how this would affect their business. One wigmaker said: “It’s our policy not to talk about such issues.”

A judge’s wig can cost anywhere between £500 and £1,700 and with hundreds of judges sitting on the civil bench the losses to wigmakers would hit into the hundreds of thousands.

The civil reform would be in line with public opinion, last canvassed by the Lord Chancellor’s department in a review which cost £110,000 in 2002. Just 31 per cent of 2,000 people surveyed wanted civil court judges to keep their wigs, while 68 per cent thought criminal court judges should retain them.