A Guide on When to Robe in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales

oatsandsugar —  July 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

Working as a Tipstaff in the Supreme Court, I often get called by barristers and their assistants if the Judge is robing for the day’s matter. To clear things up, I present to you the following cheat-sheet, although, remember, if you are ever unsure, feel free to call the chambers of the Judge you are before and the Tipstaff or Associate should be able to help you out. Also note, this is a general guide, some Judges have different robing habits.

M. A. Jinnah in barrister's robes

Warning: robing has the side-effect of making barristers look bad-ass. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Rule of thumb:

For a hearing: robe.

This is the basic rule. From this, most other rules derive. For example, since judgment is an extension of a hearing, you robe for judgment as well.

Second rule of thumb:

Generally, do not robe for a Notice of Motion.

However, there are some exceptions to this second rule, especially when certain “court lists” are involved.

Exception one:

For an appearance before the Duty Judge, Robe.

I believe that this is because, in the Duty List, there may be a situation where, although the case is brought at short notice, the matter may be dealt with as if there was a hearing.

Exception two:

For an appearance in the Probate or Protective Lists, Robe.

This appears to be a matter of tradition.

There’s a summary list after the jump…


Robing in the Equity Division:

(Source | Supreme Court Policy document via NSW Bar Association)


  • Hearing – robe
  • Judgment – robe. Exception: where there is the delivery of a reserved judgment on a Notice of Motion, rather than on a hearing, it is not usual practice to robe.
  • Notice of Motion – do not robe (there are exceptions, where the Notice of Motion is in the lists mentioned below.
  • Matters before the Duty Judge – robe

Motions or Directions in Lists

  • Applications List – do not robe
  • Probate or Protective List – robe
  • Corporations List – do not robe
  • Revenue List: 9:30am – do not robe; at other times – Robe (unless Directions, where it is not usual practice to robe)
  • Other Lists: do not robe unless the Judge is also the Duty Judge, or if the Notice of Motion or Direction occurs during a trial.

Robing in the Common Law Division, the Court of Appeal and the Court of Criminal Appeal

  • CCA – robe and wig
  • CA – robe, no wig
  • Common Law division
    • Criminal
      • Bail – do not robe
      • Trial – robe
      • Pre-trial motion – do not robe unless accused is in court
      • Sentencing or judgment – robe
    • Civil
      • Pre-trial applications, mentions, callovers, directions – do not robe
      • Trial – robe
      • Judgment – robe
      • Duty matters – do not robe



LLM candidate at Cornell Tech. Consultant for King & Wood Mallesons and Project Evangelist for Legalese.

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