New Zealand Law Society - Long-awaited return to historic courthouse in “early 2018”

Long-awaited return to historic courthouse in “early 2018”

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Lawyers are due to return to the historic court building in Dunedin early in the new year, after a gap of six years.

View of Otago Courthouse from the street outside

The greystone Victorian Gothic building was closed in December 2011 – though some services remained until May 2015 - after being assessed as being as high risk in even a moderate earthquake.

Since then all cases and hearings have been held in temporary facilities on High Street, as well as at John Wickliffe House.

Cabinet agreed to the strengthening and restoration of Dunedin's historic courthouse in 2015.

The Ministry of Justice says the changes are designed to “substantially improve court capacity and capability, as well as an improved environment for the Judiciary and Ministry employees; court users; visitors and others associated with court appearances and processes.”  

Fraser Gibbs, the ministry’s General Manager Commercial and Property, says the work at the old courthouse is meeting the intended targets.

The strengthening and refurbishment of Dunedin's historic courthouse is continuing at pace and is both on time and on budget.  Work on the foundations for the tower has now been completed, while work on ceilings, the exterior façade, underfloor concrete slab and stain glass windows is continuing.”  

Mr Gibbs says the construction work is due to be completed at the end of the year with court services scheduled to resume in early 2018.

The President of the Otago branch of the New Zealand Law Society, John Farrow, says lawyers are looking forward to the move back.

“The profession is extremely excited about returning to the old Courthouse.  The renovations sound superb,” he says.