Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Wigs have no place in modern courts

Published:Tuesday | April 19, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I find it puzzling to understand why Jamaican judges and advocates still sport wigs in 2016, a remnant of our colonial past.

The recent ceremonial opening of parliament was no different, where we saw holders of these high offices entering Parliament in wigs and robes.

It is difficult to understand what value these wigs add; they are neither symbolic nor empowering.

The British no longer require the wearing of wigs in some courts, in civil and family cases, although the practice continues in criminal court. In the United Kingdom's highest court, they have ditched the wigs, opting for more modern attire.

This also applies to lawyers appearing before the Judicial Committee of the UK Privy Council. Justices in the UK Supreme Court do not wear legal dress. Australia has also eliminated the practice of wearing wigs at different levels in its legal system. In Commonwealth countries such as India, Pakistan, Canada, and South Africa, they have also stopped wearing wigs.

Why then, do countries in Africa and the Caribbean, part of the British Commonwealth, continue with this outdated practice of wearing the blond wig? Ironically these are countries with predominantly black populations. I just don't get it. As an independent nation, I find the look humiliating and backward. It also looks silly.