West Law Report

Colour-coded tabs distinguish rank of judges in civil robe

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on September 3, 2008

From The TimesAugust 19, 2008

Colour-coded tabs distinguish rank of judges in civil robe
Supreme Court

Published August 19, 2008

Practice Direction (Court Dress) (No 5)

Judges in civil cases would wear a new civil robe, without a wig, as from October 1, 2008, and would be distinguishable by different coloured tabs.

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Chief Justice, so stated in the Supreme Court on July 31, 2008, when handing down a practice direction on court dress to be worn by the judiciary of England and Wales when sitting in court, whether in public or private, with effect from October 1, 2008.

The practice direction amended the updated Practice Direction (Criminal Proceedings: Consolidation) ([2002] 1 WLR 2870).

Civil jurisdiction

Save where the relevant head of division or the senior presiding judge agreed for good reason that a gown should not be worn:

(a) All judges and members of the High Court Masters Group, other than circuit judges, would wear the new civil gown without a wig, or bands, wing collar or collarette. (b) Circuit judges would wear their existing gown and lilac tippet without a wig, or bands, wing collar or collarette. (c) Barristers or solicitors sitting in a judicial capacity would wear their practitioners’ dress without a wig.

(d) District judges retiring after October 1 and sitting as deputy district judges would wear the new civil gown without a wig, or bands, wing collar or collarette.

Tabs at the neck of the new civil gown would indicate the rank of judge: Court of Appeal, gold tabs; High Court, red tabs; members of the High Court Masters Group, pink tabs; district judges, blue tabs.

Members of the High Court Masters Group included masters of the Chancery or Queen’s Bench Division, district judges of the Principal Registry of the Family Division, bankruptcy registrars and costs judges.

Criminal jurisdiction

There would be no change of court dress worn in the exercise of the criminal jurisdiction save that High Court judges would wear their winter robes in winter and summer alike. Family Division and Court of Protection Sir Mark Potter, President of the Family Division and of the Court of Protection, directed on July 31, 2008, that there was good reason that a gown should not be worn by any of the judges listed in Practice Direction (Court Dress) (No 5) when the judge was sitting in family proceedings or in the Court of Protection, otherwise than in open court.

When not wearing a gown, judges should sit wearing a dark coloured business suit or similar.

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