Wellington High Court to remain shut

by NZ Lawyer21 Nov 2016

As a result of last week's earthquake, the Wellington High Court building is closed until further notice, the Ministry of Justice says.

The ministry says the damage to the building on Molesworth Street is being assessed by structural engineers and it will be closed until those assessments are completed, according to the New Zealand Law Society.

"The ministry is committed to getting services up and running as soon as possible, but it also wants to ensure the safety of everyone who visits and works in our facilities.

"High Court services will continue to be provided. In the interim, from Monday 21 November, the Wellington High Court registry - including the probate team - will be based on the sixth floor of the Wellington District Court (43-49 Ballance Street).  Lawyers or members of the public wanting to file documents can do so there.  All other contact details for the High Court (phone and email) remain the same," it says.

"High Court matters will be rescheduled to other courtrooms in Wellington. Daily lists of fixtures and their locations continue to be published on the Courts of New Zealand website."

Judiciary and scheduling

Information from the Chief High Court Judge, Justice Venning, says rosterers and schedulers have allocated courtrooms for all fixtures for the week of 21 November 2016. Schedulers will meet each Tuesday to allocate courtrooms for the following weeks.

From 21 November Judges of the Wellington High Court, their associates and clerks, are based at the old High Court in Stout Street, Wellington.

Justice Venning says the Registry was closed under High Court rule 3.4 from 14 November to 18 November 2016 inclusive. He says High Court rule 1.18 will apply to that time period. Documents filed at other registries during that time have however been accepted for filing.

Legal Aid Delays

The Justice Centre in Aitken Street suffered some water damage from burst pipes and will reopen gradually from Monday 21 November, the ministry says.

This has caused delays in processing of legal aid matters. The ministry says legal aid applications, grants and invoices for the Wellington legal aid office have been processed by a small offsite team until the return to the Justice Centre.

"There will be some delays as we are unable to access any information posted by mail over the last week as well as applications and invoices not processed prior to the earthquakes," it says.

Delays for other matters

The ministry says Central Processing Unit has a significant backlog of applications, emails and mail to process and it believes it will take "about eight days" to clear the backlog.

The following matters are affected:

  • Dissolution of marriage applications

  • Civil proceedings applications

  • Civil enforcement applications

  • Application to dispute a fine

  • Fines enquiry emails.