How should attorneys dress for appearances in the Magistrate's Court?
Attorneys must wear their robe when appearing to represent others in Magistrate's court. I always wear a black or navy suit below it (with two black or navy buttons capable of closing the suit jacket, and lapels, and no waistcoat), mostly a light coloured long sleeved shirt, often white, and no crazy ties or crazy socks. I wear a formal tie, often blue or black. Some courts even take offence to a red tie. Formal and respectful tends to be the idea.
As it is not their court, which High Court is, advocates will often not robe in Magistrate's Court. Attorneys, however, should. The only reason not to robe in Magistrate's Court is if counsel or another attorney is appearing for your client on your instructions, or if you are not appearing on behalf of anyone.
For what to wear below their robe, attorneys can gain a lot from staying close to the rules governing counsel and attorneys with right of appearance in the High Court, as such will dress in their High Court appearances.
An example of this can be found in the prescriptions for dress by counsel in the Gauteng Local Division of the High Court. The dress code for junior counsel is in particular a good guide.
However, for Magistrate's Court, attorneys should rather wear a tie, and not a jabot or bib.
Below, a quote of the said rules, from the said Gauteng Local Division of the High Court's Practice Manual.
CHAPTER 4 COUNSEL'S DRESS
Counsel is required to be properly dressed. If not properly dressed they run the risk of not being "seen" by the presiding judge.
Proper dress for junior counsel comprises:
2.1 A black stuff gown.
2.2 A plain black long sleeved jacket (and not a waistcoat) which has both a collar and lapels. The jacket must have, for closing, one or two buttons at the waist. The buttons must be black.
2.3 A white shirt or blouse closed at the neck.
2.4 A white lace jabot or white bands.
2.5 Dark pants or skirt.
2.6 Black or dark closed shoes.
Proper dress for senior counsel comprises:
3.1 A Senior Counsel's (silk) gown.
3.2 A Senior Counsel's (silk) waistcoat.
3.3 A white shirt or blouse closed at the neck.
3.4 A white lace jabot or white bands.
3.5 Dark pants or skirt.
3.6 Black or dark closed shoes.
Counsel must ensure when appearing in court that their waistcoats or jackets, as the case may be, are
It is not proper for counsel to enter court not fully robed as set out in paragraph 2 to 4 supra. It follows
that counsel should not robe in court.
Conspicuous ornaments or jewellery should not be worn.
On attending a judge's chambers during the hearing of a case, counsel must be dressed as set out in
paragraphs 2 to 4 above. On attending a judge's chambers otherwise than during the hearing of
case, counsel must be properly dressed as follows:
7.1 A white shirt with a tie (men) or a white blouse closed at the neck (women);
7.2 Dark pants or dark skirt;
7.3 A long sleeved dark jacket; and
7.4 Black or dark closed shoes.
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