UK

UK Supreme Court court throws out legal dress

Scene from BBC series Judge John Deed
Image caption Lawyers in criminal courts will continue to wear wigs and a black gown

Lawyers appearing at the UK's highest court will no longer have to wear the traditional wig and gown.

Supreme Court president Lord Phillips announced the move, saying it was "in line with the court's goal" to make its work "as accessible as possible".

If all advocates in a case agree, they may ask to "dispense with part or all of court dress". Supreme Court justices wear no legal dress themselves already.

The UK's Supreme Court (UKSC) was set up in 2009 to replace the Law Lords.

The relaxed dress code would also apply to advocates appearing before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), said the statement from the Supreme Court.

Judges and lawyers appearing in criminal courts still wear traditional wigs and gowns but they can be dispensed in cases involving children.

The Supreme Court move followed a request by the UKSC/JCPC User Group, which represents professional users of the court, for an extension of the practice already adopted in family cases "under which advocates customarily appear unrobed".

In 2008, judges in civil and family cases in England and Wales stopped wearing wigs. A simplified design of working robes in court was also introduced.

"The Justices agree that this development would further underline the Court's commitment to providing an appropriate environment for considered discussion of legal issues, and is in line with the Court's goal to make this process as accessible as possible," the statement from the Supreme Court president said.

It went on: "It is anticipated that while some advocates will not wish to take advantage of this dispensation, others may prefer to reduce their legal dress to a simple gown, or to appear without legal dress at all."

The UK Supreme Court is the the last court of appeal in all matters other than criminal cases in Scotland.

It was established to emphasise the separation between Parliament's lawmakers and the judges charged with overseeing legislation.

It is housed in its own building opposite Parliament, unlike its predecessors which sat in the House of Lords.

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