Judicial Clothing - Commonwealth Countries - Australia

Australia

In Australia court dress varies according to the jurisdiction.

In the High Court of Australia, justices wear plain black robes with zippered fronts over normal attire. While they do wear wigs, they do not wear collars, bands or jabots. The robes are similar in appearance to those worn by Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, although they are more elaborately tailored. These robes have been worn since 1988, when the High Court abandoned the previous court dress of black silk robes, bar jackets, jabots or bands and full-bottomed wigs and lace cuffs on formal occasions and bench wigs for ordinary business

In the Federal Court of Australia, judges no longer wear traditional court dress, but wear black wool robes with a black trim for ‘first instance’ work, and black wool robes with a red trim for appeal cases. These robes were adopted in 1997 and were designed by Bill Haycock. The robes have seven horizontal tucks or "ombres" on one side, representing the six Australian States and the Territories. They also serve to symbolise Australia’s federal constitution and the federal jurisdiction of the Court. The robes also include a vertical band of black silk made up or of seven equal parts, also symbolizing Australia’s federal system and equality before the law.

Judges and judicial registrars of the Family Court of Australia wear a black silk gown, a bar jacket with either bands or a jabot and a bench wig. On formal occasions, judges wear full-bottomed wigs.

Federal Magistrates wear a plain black gown in court without a wig.

Judges of the Supreme Courts of the States and Territories of Australia wear court dress similar to that worn by judges of the High Court of England and Wales. On formal occasions, judges wear red scarlet robe with white fur facings, bands or a jabot, a black scarf and girdle and a scarlet casting-hood, with a full-bottomed wig. Unlike judges in the United Kingdom, judges in Australia never wear breeches, hose and buckled shoes. When sitting in criminal proceedings, judges wear scarlet robes with grey silk facings, bands or a jabot and a bench wig. When sitting in appeal or in civil proceedings, judges and masters wear a black silk gown, a bar jacket with either bands or a jabot and a bench wig. In some jurisdictions, the wearing of wigs has been abandoned for other than formal occasions. Wigs were abolished in Western Australia for both judges and lawyers in all courts in 2010.

Judges of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales and judges sitting in the Workers' Compensation Court of NSW and the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales wear the same court dress as a judge of the Supreme Court sitting civilly.

Judges of the District or County Courts of the States of Australia wear court dress similar to that worn by judges of the County Court of England and Wales.

Judges in all Australian courts will not usually wear court dress for procedural or chambers proceedings.

Stipendiary Magistrates and justices of the peace do not robe, other than in NSW where they have worn a black robe over normal business attire since 2005.

Barristers in all Australian jurisdictions, when required to do so, wear court dress similar to that worn in the United Kingdom. Queen's Counsel or Senior Counsel wear a black silk gown, a bar jacket, bands or a jabot and a horsehair wig with curls at the side and ties down the back. On formal occasions, they wear full-bottomed wigs. In addition Victorian Senior Counsel wear a black rosette hanging from the back of their gown. Junior Counsel wear an open-fronted black stuff gown with open sleeves and a gathered yoke, and otherwise wear the same outfit as Senior Counsel (other than full-bottomed wigs). Counsel usually wear dark trousers or striped trousers, or a dark skirt for female barristers. Barristers will not usually robe for procedural hearings (which are called 'directions hearings' in South Australia).

Solicitors, in those jurisdictions where the legal profession is not fused (such as New South Wales and Queensland) do not robe when appearing in court, even before superior courts. In those States and Territories with fused professions, solicitors robe in situations where barristers would normally wear robes.

In 2010 the Chief Justice of Western Australia Wayne Martin introduced major reforms for Western Australian Courts, in the District Court wigs were abolished for both lawyers and judges. District Court Judges and Lawyers maintained their robes. In the Supreme Court Criminal Jurisdiction, traditional judges red robes were replaced with American style plain black robes, this also applied to all appeal courts. Wigs were abolished in all Supreme Courts for both Judges and Lawyers. This change was meet with a great deal of sadness by many members of the legal fraternity in the state as it ended over 180 years of tradition in Western Australia.

In the High Court of Australia, barristers wear the same dress as is required by the Supreme Court in their jurisdiction.

For a matter heard in the Federal Court of Australia, barristers robe (but without a wig) if it is the usual practice to robe in the Supreme Court of the State or Territory in which the matter is being heard.

Prior to 2010, Counsel did not robe before the Federal Magistrates Court. Barristers are now expected to robe for most hearings, but not for interlocutory or interim matters. Wigs are not worn on any occasion.

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