The Courthouse Committee monitors and provides a coordinated national response to issues such as court closures and restructuring, modernisation and technology initiatives, and court security/access to courthouses, bearing in mind the needs of all court users.
The committee’s remit is not limited to addressing issues relating to the physical spaces that operate as courts, but also includes matters that affect access to justice and the administration of justice within those courts (such as AVL and court resourcing). Committee representatives meet regularly with senior Ministry officials to address courthouse issues.
The committee’s membership was refreshed and expanded in 2018 to provide better coverage across the regions and closer monitoring of the range of issues affecting courthouses and court users around New Zealand.
The committee continues to act as the Law Society’s first port of call for court and courthouse issues.
Maria Hamilton has been committee convenor since June 2020. Maria is a family barrister in Napier who specialises in all aspects of family law, including property, estate matters, and child law, and is a former President of the NZLS Hawke’s Bay Branch. Maria has taken an active interest in courthouse committee issues and was appointed to the committee in 2018.
The current members of the committee are experienced practitioners:
In the past 18 months the committee has advocated for ID cards for lawyers and is liaising with the Ministry on its proposed trial of ID cards to enable lawyers to pass more quickly through court security. The committee continues to have a watching brief on security and access issues, provides input on courthouse design, and meets regularly with MOJ officials in relation to courthouse issues around the country.