Top Hong Kong judge refuses to let solicitors wear wigs in higher courts
It's a ruling that may leave some solicitors tearing their hair out.
The city's top judge has refused their request to be allowed to wear wigs - historically a symbol of power and the preserve of judges and barristers - when they represent clients in higher courts.
Earlier this year the Law Society, which has more than 8,000 solicitors as members, asked Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li to allow them to don the horsehair apparel after they won approval to speak on behalf of clients in hearings in the High Court and Court of Final Appeal, alongside barristers.
They argued that the wearing of wigs was essential in helping to ensure justice is done, as a difference in appearance could influence the perception of jurors during criminal trials.
But the Bar Association, which represents more than 1,100 barristers, disagreed, saying the public would be confused about the differences between the two sides of the legal profession if they both wore wigs - a view the judiciary apparently shares.
In a written reply to the Post yesterday, the judiciary said it found no evidence that differences in court dress may give rise to solicitors being seen "in a negative light". It stressed there are "obvious differences" between barristers and solicitors, one of which is court dress.
"If wigs were to be worn by solicitors in court, given the court robes worn by solicitors, there is a potential for confusion in that, in appearance, there would be little visible difference between Solicitor Advocates and Senior Counsel," the judiciary wrote.
So far, 15 solicitors have been granted the right to represent their clients in open court in the Court of First Instance, Court of Appeal and Court of Final Appeal.
Stephen Hung Wan-shun, chairman of the Law Society's criminal law and procedure panel, expressed disappointment at the decision but said they would not pursue the issue further.
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