Judges' wig rule abolished

 

Judges will no longer be required to wear wigs in court under a change in court rules that comes into effect from tomorrow.

Each wig for a new judge currently costs the State about €2,200.

The Superior Courts Rules Committee, chaired for the first time by recently appointed Chief Justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham, approved a change to the rules, removing the requirement for judges of the Supreme Court and High Court to wear ceremonial wigs during court sittings.

The statutory instrument giving effect to the changes was signed by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter this evening.

Horsehair wigs - which have been worn as a matter of rule, tradition and law since about 1660, the time of the restoration of the monarchy in England - survived the transition to Independence in 1921.

They currently cost almost €2,200 each, according to the Courts Service.

A similar rule change for Circuit Court judges will come into operation at the same time.

Mr Shatter said he warmly welcomed the initiative from the Chief Justice and the Presidents of the High and Circuit Courts to dispense with the compulsory wearing of wigs.

“It should be recognised as a further small but significant step in the ongoing process of reform,” Mr Shatter said.