Formerly formal

DarwinThe last time I was in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in Darwin, which was a year or so ago, both I and my opposing counsel dressed up like 16th century clerics, with gowns, tabs et cetera. Which seemed a bit weird, bearing in mind Darwin’s notoriously informal attitude to dress.
Last week I was there again, again with Alistair Whyvill SC as my opponent, but this time the rules have been relaxed, the dress code was shirt sleeves. I have to confess that I found this rather an alien concept, having got used over many years to the notion that a certain formality is necessary in appearances as a lawyer in open court. But the sky did not cave in, justice was duly done, and indeed – despite some pre-hearing scepticism from other lawyers involved in the case – I was able to persuade the court to give me the orders that I was looking for.
It is all a question of what one is used to, I suppose. As a teenager, I had to wear a separate stiff white-collar everyday. Even now, I feel some unease about wearing a jabot with  a Velcro fastening the back instead of a proper stiff white-collar, collar studs and white tabs.

One thought on “Formerly formal

  1. I’m sure I could write a book on the cultural and social significance of the various forms of dress from your schoolboy stiff collar to a bishops robes or the ermine of a supreme court justice. All are somehow intended to intimidate lesser mortals, the orange jumpsuit apart. This may not always be a bad thing but apart from perhaps giving a veneer of impersonal authority in a criminal court, I wonder if the time for such frippery is past.

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