Gowns and Common Sense in UK Courts

Jean Cumming, the dynamic and innovative Editor-in-Chief of L’Expert – The Business Magazine for Lawyers, has just circulated this Press Notice issued by the UK Supreme Court regarding court dress to her Twitter followers. It would appear that common sense regarding wearing apparel is slowly making its way into the court system, at least in the U.K.

Press Notice

Revised guidance on court dress at the UK Supreme Court

The President of the Supreme Court has today announced that advocates appearing before the Court or the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council may, by agreement, dispense with any or all of the elements of traditional court dress.

A practice has already been adopted in family cases under which advocates customarily appear unrobed. The UKSC/JCPC User Group, which represents professional users of the Court, has asked whether this option can be extended to advocates in other cases. 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 Justices of the Court do not wear legal dress themselves and have decided not to impose this obligation on advocates appearing before them. In future, provided that all the advocates in any particular case agree, they may communicate to the Registrar their wish to dispense with part or all of court dress. The Court will normally agree to such a request.

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.

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