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Chief Justice Issues Circular On New Judicial Dress Code And Address

By Michael Murungi
September 2011

Former Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya (1985-1986), The Hon. Mr. Justice C.B. Madan, Q.C., seen here in a Judiciary file picture in the formal dress of the Court of Appeal.

Judges in Kenya will no longer be addressed as ‘My Lady’ or ‘My Lord’ and they will no longer wear the ceremonial wigs that have been part of their dress code. Instead, they will be addressed in English as ‘Your Honour’ or in Swahili as ‘Mheshimiwa’. With the exception of Kadhis (Judicial officers who preside over cases of personal law governed by Islamic/Mohammedan law) no form of headgear is to be worn.

These were among the changes announced by The Hon. The Chief Justice, Dr. W.M. Mutunga, S.C., who is also the President of the newly established Supreme Court of Kenya, through a circular issued to all Judicial Officers (Judges of the Supreme Court, Judges of Appeal, Judges of the High Court, Magistrates and Kadhis) dated August 23, 2011 under the subject: ‘Circular on Judicial Dress Code and Address’.
In the Circular (No. CJ 90), The Chief Justice stated as follows:
‘I want to bring to your attention the decisions arrived at by consensus at the just concluded Judges Colloquium also attended by the [Judicial Service Commission – the JSC]. You will note that some of these decisions take effect immediately:

  • Wigs will be discarded with immediate effect. Those who have them can either keep them as souvenirs or hand them over to the Chief Registrar;
  • No head gear of any type will be worn except by the Kadhis;
  • There will be two robes for each court, one ceremonial, one functional;
  • Each court will deliberate on the material and colours of robes it would wish to wear;
  • Magistrates will through their association deliberate on whether or not they want to wear robes;
  • All judges, magistrates and Kadhis will be addressed as  YOUR HONOUR/MHESHIMIWA and this salutation must be communicated to the Bar and the public forthwith; and
  • Each court will determine the dress code of the members of the Bar appearing before it”.

The Circular was copied to The Hon. The Deputy Chief Justice (also the Vice-President of the Supreme Court) and the Chief Registrar of the High Court.

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