New Zealand Law Society - Onwards & Upwards

Onwards & Upwards

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The CJESP will house 19 courtrooms for High Court, District Court, Māori Land Court, Employment Court, Environment Court and Youth Court hearings.

It will be home to the Ministry of Justice, New Zealand Police, Department of Corrections, New Zealand Fire Service, St John and the civil defence and emergency management functions of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, the Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury.

Secretary for Justice Andrew Bridgman says the precinct will be the first major public building to be built in the city since the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

“The precinct reflects the Government’s commitment to rebuilding of Christchurch and to delivering better public services. Covering 40,000 square metres spread over five floors, it’s the largest multi-agency government project in our country’s history,” Mr Bridgman says.

Mr Bridgman says by sharing custodial space, meeting and training facilities and IT and support services, it will allow the agencies to work together to ensure the best justice services to the people of the city and wider region.

The ministry, according to Mr Bridgman, has been working closely with all key stakeholders, including the Canterbury-Westland branch of the New Zealand Law Society.

A sub-committee of the Law Society Canterbury-Westland branch – now comprising Law Society Canterbury-Westland branch President Colin Eason, Vice-President Prue Robertson, branch Council members Craig Ruane and Marcus Elliott, and Canterbury-Law Society librarian Julia de Friez – has been working with the Ministry of Justice’s project team to design two dedicated spaces inside the precinct.

There will be a law library on the ground level of the Emergency Services building entrance (off Tuam Street, Colombo Street end), and a “lawyers’ room” on level 3 (corner Lichfield and Durham Streets).

Lawyers will be able to use one card for accreditation (to allow them to pass easily through security checkpoints) as well as access to the level 3 lawyers’ room and the law library.

The sub-committee has worked to help define the design and use of these two areas and provide input into wider design.

The ministry says the 250 m² (approx) law library is located on the ground floor, providing ease of access outside normal operating hours, as well as the range of services required by Law Society members and it will also accommodate its library team.

The separate 42 m² (approx) lawyers’ room on level 3 of the justice building has been designed to provide facilities for lawyers to take a break or work during court recesses. This space will provide access to Wi-Fi, electronic legal resources and printing, along with tea and coffee making facilities and storage for bags and coats.

stats related to the Christchurch Emergency Services Precinct

In the 11 October 2013 issue of LawTalk, Justice Rachel Dunningham (formally Canterbury-Westland President and group member) said it was a priority that an adequate law society library facility was in the new precinct.

Group chair Colin Eason says that generally, the design details “are fine”, but there are some “lingering issues” which haven’t yet been resolved.

These include the lack of allocated space for the native wood canopy which is in the High Court No 1 courtroom and valuable oil paintings – owned by the Law Society – of prominent past judges who sat and retired in Christchurch.

 “We have items that we think are worth preserving because it has to do with who we are and what we’ve been about,” Mr Eason says.

“There’re a few things that aren’t yet resolved, but in terms of the actual structure – the library space and lawyers’ room – that all looks okay.”

Ms de Friez says access to the library’s hard copy collection will only be available from the library located in the Emergency Services building.

“While we are most grateful to have the library space allocated, the location of the staff and collection in the Emergency Services building (rather than the Justice building) means lawyers will not have quick easy access to the library’s print collection. It will be about a 10 minute walk from the courts,” she says.

A key requirement is for connectivity between the two sites – access to multiple legal publishers’ subscription databases (New Zealand and overseas) will be available from Law Society computers at both sites, via the library internet connection (a static external IP is required to allow users to be identified by publishers).

Specific requirements include access to multiple legal publishers’ subscription databases via the library Wi-Fi network at both sites, use of IP phone (a “hot line”) from the lawyers’ room to call staff located at the law library, printing by staff from the library to a printer located in the level 3 lawyers’ room.

Ms de Friez says the library space is self-contained and is designed to provide lawyers with after-hours access.

“Due to a significant reduction in space for the library, most of the collection will need to be shelved in compact shelving.

“The architects have been looking at creative solutions to allow us to display the library’s collection of 45 photographs of Christchurch-based High Court judges, from Justice Sir William Martin (1842-57) to Justice Dunningham (2014 -).”

She says the lawyers’ room will have a mix of “stand-up” and “sit down” workstations – eight workstations in total.

The design details show two Law Society computers for quick research – one as a sit-down, the other a stand-up – and if lawyers want to do more involved research, it’s expected they will go over to the library in the Emergency Services building.

“The wider justice precinct design details show opportunities for lawyers to meet with clients or colleagues, with bookable meeting and specialist spaces, and a public café with access to an open-air courtyard. The design has also developed a multi-use area that will support seminars or larger meetings. This facility will be accessible outside normal operating hours and self-contained in terms of catering and amenities, the ministry said in a statement.

The precinct will house: 

  • Ministry of Justice; 
  • New Zealand Police;
  • Department of Corrections;
  • St John New Zealand;
  • New Zealand Fire Service;
  • Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management;
  • Canterbury Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group; and
  • Christchurch City Council - civil defence and emergency management.

The judiciary will also be housed in the precinct, in a way that recognises and ensures its constitutional independence.  

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