Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
Chief Justice Luke Malaba has banned tight-fitting, body-hugging and colourful attire for legal practitioners appearing before the Magistrates Courts.
For female lawyers, skirts must at least be knee length or not more than three centimetres above the knee.
Eyebrow rings and nose rings are not permissible in court appearances.
CJ Malaba said lawyers who fail to comply with the practice directive shall not have an audience before the court and the presiding magistrate may refuse to hear the legal practitioner until his/her attire meets the new requirements.
According to Practice Direction 6 of 2020 (dress code for legal practitioners appearing in the Magistrates Courts) there is a need to uphold decorum and protect the dignity of all courts by the legal practitioners.
The legal practitioners, CJ Malaba said, must demonstrate good judgement and professional taste in their court attire.
He said the Practice Direction takes effect from July 1. “Recognising the need to uphold decorum and protecting the dignity of all courts, counsel are expected to demonstrate good judgment and professional taste in their court attire. In this regard, legal practitioners are required to ensure that their attire is appropriate and in accordance with this practice direction whenever they appear in the Magistrates Courts,” he said.
CJ Malaba said for every court appearance, lawyers are required to dress formally.
“Only the following colours shall be appropriate and permissible, suit colours shall be black, navy blue or dark grey. These colours shall be solid or lightly striped. Inner shirts must be white, navy blue or dark grey.
At all appearances except open court, male counsel shall wear neckties. The ties must not contain distractingly bright colours,” he said.
For female lawyers, the Chief Justice said the dress code includes pants and skirt suits as well as full-sleeved dresses appropriate for formal business attire.
“When inner shirts, blouses or body tops are worn, these must be of acceptable colours which shall be solid or lightly striped. Blouses must be closed at the neck.
“Skirts must at least be knee length or not more than three centimetres above the knee. Tight fitting and body-hugging attire is not permissible. Shoes worn by all counsel must be black, dark grey or brown and closed. For female counsel, sling back shoes with closed fronts may be worn. Open toe or peep-toe shoes and sandals are not allowed,” he said.
CJ Malaba said unobtrusive jewellery and other accessories may be worn.
“Jewellery that is extravagant or excessive should be avoided. Eyebrow rings and nose rings are not permissible in court appearances. Where hosiery is worn, it must be plain. Fish net or other patterned hosiery is not permissible,” he said.
CJ Malaba said counsel appearing in open court are expected to be fully robed in gowns and jabots.
When fully robed, counsel must wear appropriate attire under their gowns.
“Shirts must be plain white, collared and buttoned. Counsel must ensure that at all times gowns are properly fitted and not hanging loosely off the shoulder. Counsel are not permitted to robe and disrobe in the courtroom while the court is in session,” he said.