Free Press Journal

Lawyer uniforms reinstated in Beijing courts


Beijing: Lawyers in the Chinese capital will once more be required to wear robes when appearing in court as part of a pilot programme, state media reported today. The six-month-long programme from August 1 announced by the Beijing Lawyers Association, covers the Beijing Intellectual Property Court and the Dongcheng District People’s Court.

Lawyers should wear robes with neckties and badges when entering courtrooms. The courts provide dressing rooms for lawyers. The lawyers’ association provides spare robes for those who need them.

The courts will report those who do not wear robes to the lawyers’ association. The organisation will investigate and reprimand lawyers who violate the dress code, said the notice issued last Friday.

Uniforms have been required since January 1, 2003, according to a regulation adopted by the All China Lawyers Association in 2002. On January 2, 2003, Pan Dun, from Beijing’s Guantao Law Firm, was China’s first lawyer in uniform since the re-establishment of the legal profession in 1980.

But the rule has since been loosely implemented across the country as it stipulates no strict punishment except admonition. Some lawyers complain it is inconvenient for them to take uniforms with them and that many courts do not have dressing rooms.

“The uniforms are part of a lawyer’s identity and remind them of their professional ethics and discipline,” said Yi Shenghua with Yingke Law Firm here. “It is a respect for the law, the court and the parties,” he added.