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Chief Justice reminds judges, magistrates to wear wigs and gowns

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The Chief Justice,  Anin-Yeboah, has reiterated the dress code for judges and professional magistrates.

In a circular sighted by Citi News, the Chief Justice indicated that some judges and professional magistrates were flouting regulations on dressing standards.

The circular said they [Judges and magistrates], are supposed to be fully robed in a wig and gown, for court sittings at all times.

“It is important to note that dressing in this manner helps to preserve the decorum, seriousness, and formality of court proceedings and the importance of the proper administration of justice,” the circular said.

Underneath the robes the circular noted that the attire to be worn may include: appropriately formal dark dress or black suit, barrister’s trousers with Bar waistcoat, white tunic shirt or white blouse with collar/collarette, court band tie/bibs, studs, and stiffeners alongside dark socks and black shoes.

The circular also noted that judges and professional magistrates “should also ensure that members of the Bar who appear before the Courts strictly comply with the dress standards to maintain the dignity of the Court, as this matter was raised by the Bar Association at a meeting of the General Legal Council.”

There have been arguments for and against the removal of wigs and gowns from Ghana’s judicial system.

During his vetting in 2019, Justice Anin-Yeboah stated that he will not stop the long-standing tradition of judges and lawyers wearing robes and wigs for court attendance.

He stated that wearing of wig and gown is a long-standing tradition for legal practitioners.

Justice Anin-Yeboah’s statement was a response to a question from the Member of Parliament for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh Chireh on whether he will change the practice of legal practitioners wearing wigs, gowns, and suits.

Justice Anin-Yeboah said, “That’s our uniform; I’m all out for the tradition of the bar. I will not change it.”

In 2019, a Supreme Court judge, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, backed calls for reforms in the dress code of the judiciary to reflect values and conditions in the country.

Answering a question regarding the weather conditions in the country and doing away with colonial relics, she told Parliament’s Appointment Committee prior to her approval as a Supreme Court judge that she thought practitioners would look good in local fabrics.

Former British colonies including Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe continue to abide by the UK legal system which requires the wearing of wigs and robes for judges and lawyers.

Malawi, another former colony in November 2019, had their constitutional court suspend the wearing of traditional white wigs and black robes in the courtroom as temperature levels in the country kept soaring.

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