Archive for August 23rd, 2007

The majesty of The Law in August…

Lord Phillips LCJ may find his dealings with the government difficult – independence of the judiciary / court budgets et al – but this, according to Frances Gibb in the Times, may be nothing compared to the gathering storm on the issue of barristers and their horse hair wigs.

While Lord Phillips may wish to discard the five judicial changes of robing and substitute European style gowns with coloured sashes to denote rank (Save in Criminal cases where wigs and full regalia will continue to be worn), it may not be quite so easy to persuade the learned friends to give up their horsehair wigs and eighteenth century costume.

I quote from the Times report: “Lord Phillips’s paper made clear that it was “expected” that advocates would adopt a similar dress code to judges. Yet, Geoffey Vos, QC, chairman of the Bar, said: “It is quite clear that there are strong views on both sides about the retention of wigs and gowns. The majority view in 2001 was that wigs should be retained in civil cases, but not in family cases, unless someone’s liberty was at stake. It will be interesting to see if this is still the case in light of the Lord Chief Justice’s pronouncement.”

Geoffrey Vos QC, the first blogging Chairman of the Bar, predicts a large number of responses from the profession and states: “The judges are going for the Euro gown that covers all other clothes. I doubt, but I do not know, that barristers would want to change their existing gowns.”

Frances Gibb is always worth reading and I was amused by her positioning in her article. She states: ” All is not gloom, however. There is delight among solicitor-advocates who will now be dressed the same as barristers.” [Clients, she reports, want ‘proper lawyers’ in a wig and gown’]

And then, like Shane Warne, spinning the ball before delivering a wicket taking ball, she ends with the suggestion (now solicitor-advocates have achieved equality of dress / costume) “that some district judges are now seeking dining rights at one of the Inns of Court”. This latter statement is the view reported of Stanley Best (solicitor-turned-barrister), Chairman of the association of small firms called the British Legal Association.

Frances Gibb, cape and sword in hand (to my eye this evening), then delivers the coup de grace; reporting Mr Best’s words :

“Where will these aspirations lead to, unless firmly knocked on the head?”, he fulminates. Soon the public would not be able to “tell chalk from cheese” and those solicitors who had gained this foothold would, “emboldened by their success, be storming the barricades at the Inns of Court and the Bar”.

A good word ‘fulminate’. Readers should not be surprised if I start using it… in fact, I may start a bit of fulminating this weekend (infra).

Meanwhile, while journos whip up a storm about lawless Britain, people being afraid to go out because of yobs, and a young boy of eleven gets shot dead by another young boy, our legal system is prosecuting a child for throwing a cocktail sausage at a pensioner. BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/6958826.stm

It makes you think…

Tomorrow, after noon, I plan to take a bit of time off from my normal work and spend the weekend doing a bit of blogging. I may even find the time to have a glass of Rioja… and, perhaps, a steak frite, or even a bit of pasta.

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