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To cut costs, some British courts get to doff the wigs

July 13, 2007|From the Associated Press

LONDON — Civil and family court judges in England and Wales will dispense with their wigs next year, although the tradition will continue in the criminal courts, the lord chief justice said Thursday.

Judges will also use the same gowns throughout the year, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers said.

Judges and lawyers here have worn horsehair wigs since the 17th century.

In the family civil courts, judges and lawyers will not only go without wigs, but will dispense with wing collars, effective Jan. 1, Phillips announced.

The government will save about $600,000 a year by simplifying court dress and no longer giving new circuit judges an allowance to purchase a full-bottom wig, he said. Such wigs fall to below the shoulder.

"At present, High Court judges have no less than five different sets of working dress, depending on the jurisdiction in which they are sitting and the season of the year," Phillips said.

"While there will never be unanimity of view.... the desirability of these changes has a broad measure of agreement."

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