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The courtroom blunder that’s ‘social death’ for Victorian barristers

Ross and Russel
Barrister lawyer wig

Wigs in Victorian courts appear to be nearing extinction.

In 2016, they were banned from the Supreme Court. They’ve never been worn in the Magistrates’ Court, and we don’t have them in the federal system.

But, in the County Court, they’re worn at the individual judge’s discretion.

Melbourne QC, Dr Matt Collins, says “at last count there were about 13 judges out of 70 who are still wearing them”.

And it’s essential barristers appearing before those 13 judges know their preference.

“You’ve got to do exactly what the judge is doing,” Dr Collins said.

“If the judge is not wearing a wig and you show up wearing a wig that is social death.”

Dr Collins says some judges choose to have wigs in their court for tradition, while another argument says they offer a degree of anonymity.

“If you’re worried about the jury being distracted by someone’s hairstyle … the argument is it makes everyone look anonymous and the same,” he said.

Press PLAY below to hear Dr Collins discuss the pros and cons of wigs in court with Ross and Russel

Ross and Russel