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Why Do British Lawyers Wear Wigs?

March 11, 2023
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In the 16th Century, Wigs became popular when people in Europe started contracting syphilis and suffering from intense hair loss. It was a problematic issue for the people because, at that time, long hair was trendy. Louis XIV of France is considered the most prominent trendsetter of wigs. He always used to wear wigs because it was believed that he was suffering from syphilis. Even King Loius’s cousin King Geoge got to know about this trend of wearing wigs, later followed by upper-class and middle-class people. Afterward, British courts slowly started adapting full shoulder-length wigs as a part of court dress.

Let us talk about some reasons why British lawyers and Judges wear wigs:

1. Dress code

British lawyers and judges used to wear a wig known as “Peruke”. It is a part of their uniforms that differentiate them and create a separation in appearance between them and other people. Peruke is regarded as the symbol of power, supremacy, and respect for the laws. Wigs are an important part of the British court, if lawyers or judges don’t wear a wig, then it is considered a lack of formality and an insult to the court.

It is a long and curvy blonde-in-color wig that is made up of quality horsehair. Wigs make the atmosphere more formal, and the judge’s wig is similar but looks more highly decorative and comes with shoulder-length hair with tight curls.
Barrister wigs are made with curls on both sides and back also.

2. Uniformity

It was started in the late 16th or early 17th centuries when wigs were made essential wear for polite society in the courts because wigs made their first appearance in the courtroom more simple, pure, and unbiased. Before that, lawyers were only supposed to have short hair and trimmed beards. It has become a symbol of the legal profession. It helps them to disguise the identity of a lawyer, barrister, or a judge.

3. Look anonymous

Another reason for wearing wigs is to make an appearance anonymous, which helps maintain anonymity during the practice. The personal lives of lawyers and judges mustn’t affect the case trials, that is why wigs help them to act as a third party, unbiased and anonymous personality. Wigs are worn as a symbol of anonymity just like the robes worn by the lawyers.

Wigs remind them that they are involved in a serious proceeding and they have law and order to maintain.

How much it costs?

These wigs are completely handmade, which includes centuries-old craft art, and sewing techniques, and are very expensive, they are made up of fine-quality horsehair which isn’t cheap at all. These wigs come in different varieties, and the completed full-shoulder-length wig’s cost may vary from 400 pounds to 1500 pounds.

Conclusion

Despite the criticism and facing many discomforts while practicing, many professionals are embarrassed by the tradition of wearing wigs in court. They believe that it is an important symbol of legal integrity.

A senior solicitor with over 30 years of experience, James Mulholland narrated that the wig is a very important part of the criminal justice court . Independent professional lawyers who fight for their clients and present their cases and have no personal attachment and interests in the case. These wigs are the reason that emphasize and portray their detachment, separation, and anonymity from the case.

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