Lawyers at the Rotorua courthouse have moved back into their own room after six months cramped into a “very small” room.
The Lawyers’ Room at the courthouse was closed down in early October 2017 due to high levels of mould due to a leak in the building roof.
But this week the room, which doubles as the law library, was again available to local and visiting practitioners.
The New Zealand Law Society librarian at Auckland – which covers Waikato and the Bay of Plenty – Janice Woolford says all books and judgments have been returned. However, the computers available to lawyers to work on has not yet been moved back. She believes there were about 40 boxes of material that had to be removed.
Late last year an Auckland barrister described the court building as a “disgrace”.
After a three-week trial at the Rotorua High Court, Sam Wimsett was moved to write to the Justice Minister Andrew Little. “In a city where both Crown and defence counsel are of a high quality, the local bench has an excellent reputation and Court staff are pleasant and efficient, it is unbelievable that the facilities could be so poor,” he said.
As noted in February’s LawTalk (issue 914), among the problems Mr Wimsett encountered were just two dark, cramped and non-soundproof meeting rooms in the cells for four courtrooms, accessible only through the court’s back entrance, and often with a queue of waiting counsel.
The Ministry of Justice’s General Manager Commercial and Property, Fraser Gibbs, says the ministry is undertaking a range of ongoing maintenance work at the Rotorua Courthouse.
“We have recently completed an upgrade to the roof above the Common Room and refurbishment of the Common Room itself is underway.
“We are also undertaking minor repair work to the Law Library and upgrading the building’s internal gutters.
“All this work is due to be completed by the end of March.”