English Courts May Ditch ‘Culturally Insensitive’ Wigs

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COURT wigs

The current court dress code may be about to get an update following complaints by some barristers who say the wigs they have to wear discriminates against those with Afro-Caribbean hair.

Judges are currently looking at proposals made by the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales. Changes are expected to be made this autumn, though no decisions have been made.

The Telegraph reports: It follows widespread criticism from several black barristers who have called for compulsory wigs to be scrapped.

The potential changes come after Michael Etienne, a barrister who is black and has an afro hairstyle, sparked a public debate in 2022 after being ordered to wear a wig in court or face disciplinary action.

He branded the policy as hair discrimination, a form of racism.

A Bar Council spokesman said: “Following questions from barristers about wigs and hair discrimination, the Bar Council set up a working group to consider court dress in the context of all protected characteristics.

“The findings of the working group are currently being discussed with the judiciary as part of our regular dialogue on equality and diversity matters.”

Barristers are not required to wear wigs, traditionally made of horsehair, in all courtrooms. Since 2007, they have not been required in family, civil or Supreme Court cases.

However, Leslie Thomas KC said he hopes the judiciary will scrap barrister wigs once and for all.

He previously described wigs as a “ridiculous costume” that represents a “culturally insensitive climate” at the Bar.

Niamh Harris
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