Court attire

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Federal courts

High Court of Australia

When appearing before the High Court of Australia: in the appellate jurisdiction, barristers wear what is customarily worn in the Court of Appeal or Court of Criminal Appeal of the state Supreme Court from which the appeal has been brought, and in the original jurisdiction, barristers wear what is customarily worn in the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court in the state in which they ordinarily practice.

Federal Court of Australia

The Federal Court has developed national guidelines for the robing of counsel appearing before the court.

Fair Work Commission of Australia

Robes and wigs are not worn.

Family Court of Australia

Judges of the Family Court have dispensed with wigs and adopted a new gown. The court has also released a new robing policy. Unless a judge otherwise orders, having regard to the nature or circumstances of a particular matter:

Wigs are not worn on any occasion

Robes, and any related attire are worn for:

  • trials
  • appeals
  • all other final hearings, including the final hearing of a separate issue
  • and for the delivery of judgment after all such hearings
  • ceremonial sittings

Robes are not worn for any other hearing, including the hearing of an interlocutory issue and matters before a registrar.

In the event of any doubt, enquiry should be made to the associate of the presiding judge.

Federal Circuit Court

On 9 August 2010 Chief Federal Magistrate John H Pascoe AO CVO issued Practice Direction No.1 of 2010 on robing of counsel in the Federal Magistrates Court. The direction is effective from 6 September 2010.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Robes and wigs are not worn.

Australian Competition Tribunal

Robes and wigs are not worn.

Copyright Tribunal

Robes and wigs are not worn.

Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal

Tribunal members do not wear robes and wigs when hearing an appeal or application for leave to appeal. A barrister appearing before the Tribunal within Australia wears the same attire as is required if appearing before the Court of Criminal Appeal or its equivalent in the State or Territory where that hearing is taking place.

Federal Police Disciplinary Tribunal

Robes and wigs are not worn

NSW courts

Supreme Court of New South Wales (Including Court of Appeal and Court of Criminal Appeal)

On 20 September 2007, the Hon JJ Spigelman AC, chief justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, issued the Attire Policy. This policy aims to ensure barristers appear before the court in attire that meets the court’s expectations.

This policy applies to:

  • barristers appearing in proceedings before the Court of Appeal, Court of Criminal Appeal, Common Law Division, and Equity Division
  • barristers attending ceremonial sittings of the Supreme Court

Download the Supreme Court's Attire Policy  in PDF

Sittings at which recently appointed silks take their "bows" before the Court of Appeal (in which case, black bar (silk) robes are worn, without wigs)

Land and Environment Court of NSW

Whether or not robes are worn in a particular matter depends upon the class of the matter, and not the nature of the hearing. Robes but not wigs are worn for all ceremonial sittings. Refer to table that follows.

Type of proceedings Attire
Class 3 compensation, encroachment, boundary claims

Class 4 matters

Class 5 matters

Class 6 matters

Class 7 matters

Ceremonial sittings

Robes are to be worn, but wigs are not to be worn.
For all other proceedings Robes and wigs are not to be worn.

Industrial Relations Commission of NSW

Barristers do not wear robes or wigs in this jurisdiction. There is no ceremonial sitting or other event which requires robes or wigs to be worn.

District Court of New South Wales

The District Court has announced that wigs are no longer to be worn in District Court civil matters. Although this is the official policy of the court, the policy is not mandatory upon every judge. Situations may arise where counsel may appear in civil matters before a judge who chooses to wear a wig.

The association has communicated with the court, which has indicated that in these circumstances that it will not be a discourtesy for counsel to appear before the court without a wig, in compliance with the general policy of the court.

Robes should be worn in any civil matter.

Criminal matters: Barristers traditionally wear robes and wigs in the District Court except on chambers matters. Barristers do not wear a wig if the judge appears without a wig at the outset.

Ceremonial occasions: barristers wear robes and wigs; in the case of silk, full bottomed wigs are worn.

Dust Diseases Tribunal

Robes and wigs are worn for the hearing of all matters other than at Directions Hearings and other interlocutory proceedings. The wearing of full-bottomed wigs by silks is reserved for ceremonial occasions.

Administrative Decisions Tribunal

Robes and wigs are not worn in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal including the Appeal Panel.

Drug Court of NSW

Robes and wigs are not worn in the Drug Court of NSW.

Local Court

Magistrates have robed since Monday, 5 December 2005. Practitioners are not to be robed.

Workers Compensation Commission

Robes and wigs are not worn in the Workers Compensation Commission.

ACT courts

Refer to Practice Direction No.6 of 2003 'Robing in the Supreme Court'. When a practitioner appears in the court as a barrister they should wear traditional robes in matters where the judge robes subject to the following:

  • Wigs are no longer to be worn in civil matters;
  • Wigs should be worn in all criminal matters (including appeals) in which the Judge wears robes.

Practitioners are to wear wigs when appearing in the High Court of Australia when the judges robe. Counsel are to wear wigs and gowns for ceremonial sittings.