Unveiling the Reasons Why Hong Kong Judges Wear Wigs

Release time:2023-11-18 11:30

Unveiling the Reasons Why Hong Kong Judges Wear Wigs

The Origin of Judicial Wigs

Evidently, the wigs worn by Hong Kong judges are more of a hairstyle change rather than a disguise, as it doesn't conceal their appearance. Therefore, the notion of disguise doesn't apply. In fact, its roots trace back more than 300 years to the circumstances surrounding the British monarch.

In 1660, King Charles II of England, who had spent many years in exile in France, returned to London. During his exile, Charles II fell ill, with some speculating that he had contracted syphilis, leading to extensive hair loss and baldness. To maintain his image upon returning to England, Charles II started wearing wigs.

This trend caught on, becoming fashionable among the British, following the lead of King Charles II. Concurrently, England was emerging from a civil war, with the Parliamentarians favoring short hair, and Royalists advocating for longer hairstyles, leading to ongoing disputes.

This presented a dilemma for judges, the symbols of legal impartiality. To avoid political bias, judges began wearing wigs during court proceedings. Over time, these judicial wigs became a symbol of legal fairness and have since become a tradition.

Another theory suggests that during the medieval period, judicial officials suffered severe hair loss due to excessive mental exertion. Wearing wigs became a way to cover up this phenomenon in the legal profession.

Historical Reasons

The practice of judges in Hong Kong wearing wigs can be linked to a more recent period of humiliation. In 1840, the First Opium War erupted, resulting in China's defeat and the signing of a series of unequal treaties, ultimately leading to Hong Kong becoming a British colony. British legal practices, including the tradition of judges wearing wigs, were then introduced to Hong Kong. Therefore, Hong Kong judges wearing wigs is a legacy of British influence.

Since October 2, 2008, following the latest regulations in the UK, most judges and lawyers across the country are no longer required to wear wigs in court, except for judges presiding over criminal proceedings. Currently, the tradition of judges wearing wigs persists in Hong Kong, although not all judges in every court adhere to this practice. For example, judges in the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong wear judicial robes but not wigs.

Alternative Perspectives

1. Cultural Influence:Due to Hong Kong's colonial history under British rule, the influence of British judges led to the incorporation of wig-wearing into the local judicial culture. This practice does not carry any particular significance, but rather reflects the fashion trends set by figures such as Queen Elizabeth I, who was known for wearing wigs to enhance her appearance.

2. Disguise for Impartiality:Judges wearing wigs serves the purpose of disguising their true appearance. In the pursuit of fairness and justice, judges are expected to be impartial figures in the courtroom. Wearing wigs helps prevent easy recognition, allowing judges to maintain privacy and avoid unnecessary discussions related to ongoing cases.

3. Hair Loss and Professional Stress: Legal professionals, including judges, often experience high levels of stress due to their busy schedules. The demanding nature of their work, involving constant analysis of laws and numerous case evaluations, contributes to hair loss over time. Wearing wigs becomes a tool for concealing this aspect and presenting a more positive image.

In summary, the tradition of judges wearing wigs in Hong Kong has historical roots dating back to British colonial influence, fashion trends initiated by King Charles II, and practical considerations related to legal impartiality and professional appearance.