Less than eight months for solicitors to wear wigs
Traditionally solicitors who are entitled to appear before Judges in any of the Courts in England & Wales were not entitled to wear wigs nor a similar gown as barristers so as to distinguish the two branches of the profession from each other. This often led to somewhat comical scenes whereby juries would wonder why they were being addressed by a person they believed was merely a Court Clerk for one party whereas the other party had a genuine lawyer as the advocate.
The position was altered with effect from 2 January 2008 with the announcement that solicitors and any other non-barrister who were entitled to appear in any Court in England & Wales could wear wigs so as to have a similar appearance as barristers (although not identical because there was still a difference in the gowns that could be worn).
In case this might be seen to be a backward step the Lord Chief Justice has already announced that it is his intention to introduce new traditional Court working dress for the Civil Courts and new gowns. It is proposed that no wigs will be worn in civil cases and that these changes are to come into effect with effect from 1 October 2008. If, as is possible, this means that solicitors in civil cases will not be entitled to wear wigs then they will have had the opportunity for a very short space of time indeed to do so, less than nine months.
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