Written by IainB
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Topics: Law, wigs, barrister

Sunday, 20 November 2011

image for Barristers no longer need wigs
A selection of Harry Wigg's wigs

The Barrister's wig is as old as English law, dating back to the first representatives in court in the 1600s. Now, nearly five hundred years later, British Barristers have been told that the wig will be optional.

"It's a remarkable step forward," said Barry Stern, head of Chambers at the Old Bailey. "The wig has been part of uniform of a barrister for as long as I remember, and easily longer. It's going to take a while for the legal profession to adapt."

According to Stern, the legal profession adapt slowly at the best of times, and to adapt to something as profound as losing the wig, will possibly take years to come to terms with.

"It took them fifty years to come to grips with electricity," said Stern. "Some of them still haven't."

Harry Wigg, Bond Street Legal Wig-maker since the Regency, the firm, not Harry himself, breathed a sigh of relief at the news.

"Finally," said the current Harry Wigg, Harry Wigg the Forty-First, "finally I can stop making these stupid wigs, and move into more profitable markets. Celebrity wigs, transvestite wigs, there's a million markets out there that I've not been able to touch."

According to Wigg, there has been several fashions in wigs, each one lasting approximately seventy years, with a brief, two decade overlap.

"You can still find some barristers wearing regency style or actual regency wigs," said Stern. "But the current fashion is for a small curly wig, unlike the one at the start of the nineteenth century that looked like a mullet."

It has taken an act of parliament with a very tight vote in the House of Lords to get the wigs made optional.

"There's been a couple of barristers who have burned their wigs," said Stern. "I think they'll be back in them before long. New ones, obviously, their old ones being burned. The old guard won't give them up easily. Give it another forty, fifty years - sixty tops - and you'll start to see barristers with their own hair."

Judges, however, must continue wearing the wigs for a little while longer yet.

"We did suggest that the judges also stop wearing wigs," said Stern. "However, Judge Mental went off on one, and tried to have me hung. Or is it hanged?"

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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