Supreme Court lawyers allowed to dress down


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The Independent Online

Lawyers appearing at the UK's highest court will no longer have to wear traditional dress, it was announced today.

From now on advocates in cases heard at the Supreme Court in London will be able to "dispense with any or all of the elements of traditional court dress".

The announcement was made by the court's president, Lord Phillips.

Supreme Court justices do not wear legal dress themselves.

A statement issued today on revised guidance on court dress said the justices had "decided not to impose this obligation on advocates appearing before them".

The new guidance also applies to lawyers appearing before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which sits at the UK Supreme Court building in Parliament Square, Westminster, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

A practice had already been adopted in family cases under which advocates customarily appear unrobed.

The UKSC/JCPC User Group, which represents professional users of the court, asked whether this option could be extended to advocates in other cases.

The statement said: "The justices agree that this development would further underline the court's commitment to providing an appropriate environment for considered discussion of legal issues, and is in line with the court's goal to make this process as accessible as possible."

In future "provided that all the advocates in any particular case agree, they may communicate to the registrar their wish to dispense with part or all of court dress".

The court "will normally agree to such a request".