Young Irish barristers take hats off to wigs

A SUCCESSFUL campaign to preserve the wig-wearing tradition in the Irish courts was spearheaded by the younger members of the profession, according to the Irish Bar Council's director general.

The attitude of the more junior barristers has provided a surprising twist in the long road to the liberalisation of court dress in the Republic of Ireland.

On 15 December a new law was enacted allowing barristers to discard their wigs in court.

The legislation was to have banned barristers from wearing wigs altogether, but the Bar Council successfully lobbied for a last-minute amendment which made wigs optional.

John Dowling, director general of the Bar Council in Ireland, has identified the younger barristers as the firmest advocates of wigs of all in the run up to the enactment of Courts and Court Officers Act.

“We have a very large contingent of newly called barristers at the Irish Bar and their view was that the wig and gown tended to mask the distinction between themselves and their more senior colleagues,” he said.

But Dowling added that it would be “interesting to see whether this is a view held by the new October intake who will be faced with purchasing wigs, which cost £300 or more”.

One barrister who has discarded his wig, except for ceremonial occasions, is chair of the Bar James Nugent.