Out with the old, in with the new: The development of Newcastle courthouse


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. In this article, Susan Moran, Principal of our dispute resolution team considers the development of a new courthouse in Newcastle which has been welcomed by the community to provide greater access to justice.

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:

(a)        10 courtrooms;

(b)        2 tribunal rooms;

(c)        legal interview rooms;

(d)        holding cells;

(e)        facilities for victims of crime and support groups;

(f)         new video-conferencing equipment; and

(g)        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 space will comprise over 10000m 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.  We look forward to the opening and to it playing an integral role in the new facilitation of civil matters in Newcastle.

This article is not legal advice.  It is intended to provide commentary and general information only.  Access to this article does not entitle you to rely on it as legal advice.  You should obtain formal legal advice specific to your own situation.  Please contact us if you require advice on matters covered by this article.