The development of a new, multifunctional courthouse in Newcastle has been welcomed by the community to provide greater access to justice in the local and regional community.
Construction of the courthouse commenced in February 2013, with the occasion marked by a sod turning ceremony by the then Attorney General, Greg Smith. With a construction cost of approximately $89 million, the seven storey, 12,000 square meter building will be the “most technologically advanced court facility outside Sydney” according to NSW Attorney General Brad Hazzard.
The new courthouse will have additional facilities including:
- 10 courtrooms;
- 2 tribunal rooms;
- legal interview rooms;
- holding cells;
- facilities for victims of crime and support groups;
- new video-conferencing equipment; and
- mediation spaces.
The variety of spaces offered by the new courthouse also reflects a broader acknowledgement within the legal community of the benefits of using alternative dispute resolution in conjunction with or in place of litigation. Court-annexed mediation resulted in at least 51% of Supreme Court cases in 2014 settling, with more cases settling after mediation but before trial.
Next to the new court complex site, construction is underway for the University of Newcastle “NeW Space” campus. This site will comprise over 10 000m2 of functional space and is tailored to business and law students. Together the courthouse and the University campus are expected to give the Newcastle CBD a renewed vibrancy. Construction of these projects has already boosted the local economy, with the courthouse development alone being responsible for employing 750 people.
The courthouse is expected to be completed and in operation by mid-2015. McCabes looks forward to the opening and to it playing an integral role in the new facilitation of civil matters in Newcastle.
Clare Campbell is a senior dispute resolution lawyer and is assisted by Alexandra Loadsman, solicitor. Clare and Alex have a broad range of litigation experience in relation to the commencement, defence and preparation of matters for mediation and/or hearing.