What is the ACT Law Courts project?

The ACT Law Courts redevelopment project has been designed to meet the Territory’s needs for the next 50 years in a more functional, flexible and sustainable way.

The new single courts facility will comprise a four story link building to join the existing Magistrates and the refurbished Supreme Court buildings.

As the Territory's first Public Private Partnership (PPP ) this major infrastructure project is also an important pathfinder, and demonstrates the ACT Government’s commitment to working innovatively in partnership with the private sector to deliver Canberra’s future infrastructure needs.

Why are we building it and what are the benefits for the local community?

The Supreme Court building was constructed in 1963. Since then the functional requirements of the Court have changed significantly and the effectiveness of the building has degraded by reason of its physical state and issues related to compliance with modern building standards.

The current building is failing in several key areas: security management; circulation systems; jury management; technology; courtroom accommodation; custodial facilities; access to justice and human rights obligations. These failings impact on the building’s capacity to operate efficiently and effectively to serve the needs of the community. It also increases the risks inherent in operating a court building. The lack of a physical link between the Supreme and Magistrates Court buildings limits the ability for efficiencies in the use of facilities to be realised.

The new ACT Law Courts will accommodate the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, Magistrates Court and Childrens Court.

At completion there will be 18 courtrooms in the new facility, comprising 10 existing courtrooms in the Magistrates Court building and 8 new courtrooms, five of which will be suitable for jury trails. All courtrooms will be fully equipped with modern audio visual and video conferencing capability.

The new courts facility will also feature private meeting rooms a dedicated witness suite, dedicated spaces for community service and domestic violence support agencies, a mediation hub (with facilities capable of hosting multi-party mediations), interpreters’ facilities and a framework to support the hearing impaired.

Who is building the project?

Juris Partnership was announced as the preferred proponent to undertake the design, construction, financing and management of the new ACT Law Courts facility for the next 25 years. The Juris Partnership comprises; Laing O’Rourke , Macquarie Capital and their delivery partners.

Laing O’Rourke is both equity partner and builder in the Juris Partnership. Delivery partners for the project are:

Programmed Facility ManagementFacility Management services provider
 Lyons Architect Architect, urban design and planner
 Arup Building services consultant
 Aurecon Structure, civil and facade consultant
 Umow Lai ICT consultant
 Resonate Acoustics Acoustic consultant
 Purdon Associates Town planner
 Lovelle Chen Heritage consultant
How long will the construction period be?

Construction is expected to commence in the first half on 2016 with site establishment works having begun in February 2016. Completion of stage one (the new building) is planned for late 2017 with stage two (refurbishment of the existing building) in late 2018. For more information and a summary of the construction stages is available go to the project timeline.

What impact will the Project have on local jobs and the local economy?

The Project represents an infrastructure investment of over $150m across 2016 – 2018. At its peak, throughout the construction phase of the project, it is estimated to create around 350 jobs.

What happens during the build – how will the courts continue to operate?

The works will be completed in a staged manner, allowing court operations to continue during the construction period without the need to move to a temporary facility. Stage one will see the construction of the new facility linking the two existing buildings. This wing will house six courtrooms, support facilities and judicial chambers. Following completion of this section all operations will be moved out of the existing Supreme Court which will be refurbished to accommodate two courtrooms, a mediation suite and a number of support facilities. During the construction period there will be no loss of courtrooms.

The temporary ‘shipping container court’ previously suggested will not be required. This demonstrates an innovation of the PPP process, bringing architects and builders together to develop a proposal through interaction with Government stakeholders.

How will witnesses be accommodated?

A dedicated zone for witnesses and victims has been included in the new facility. It has been designed using best practice and lessons learned from other jurisdictions. The zone will have a discrete separate entrance, seven remote witness rooms, separate amenities and dedicated waiting spaces for the family and support network of victims and witnesses.

How will victims of domestic violence be accommodated?

A dedicated hub to accommodate Legal Aid, Domestic Violence Crisis Service and other support services has been designed into the facility. The hub will include office space, interview rooms and waiting areas for the family and support network of clients of the services.

What community support services will be accommodated in the building?

Dedicated accommodation has been designed for key support agencies for the court. These include Youth Justice, Court Alcohol and Drug Assessment Service, Forensic Mental Health Services, Probation and Parole, Prisoners Aid and Legal Aid. Accommodation includes office space, interview rooms and dedicated amenities.

How much will the project cost?

The project is within the Public Sector Comparator and represents value-for-money for the Territory. The actual construction and running costs are commercial-in-confidence; however the infrastructure investment is over $150m.

How sustainable and what will be the ‘green’ credentials of the new facility?

The new facility will be will be certified to a 5-star green star standard by the Green Building Council of Australia.

Some of the environment features included in the design are the installation of a 110KW capacity solar photo-voltaic (PV) array (solar panels), solar hot water, rainwater harvesting and end of journey facilities for cyclists. A new integrated heating and cooling plant arrangement and improved lighting systems will also contribute to the energy efficiency of the new facility.

The PV array is sized to cover the base building load for the entire new facility.

How is the heritage of the Supreme Court being treated?

The ACT Government has worked closely with Juris to respect and celebrate the heritage of the existing Supreme Court building in the development of the design for the new facility.

Respect for the heritage of the existing building is a key component of the design.

A conservation management plan was endorsed by the ACT Heritage Council in 2013 and has since been the guiding document for the building design.

Key heritage features including the marble cladding, the internal atrium, the podium and external peri-style columns and the inscribed ‘Law Courts of the Australian Capital Territory’ will all be retained in the new facility. The gifted timber, adorning the six courtrooms in the current Supreme Court, will be re-used and interpreted in the new facility.

What will the effect on parking be?

The project will not directly affect the existing city parking arrangements, however it is recognised that the presence of additional tradespersons in and around the site will increase demand on parking for the construction period.

What is a PPP? Why is this project being delivered as a PPP?

A PPP, or Public Private Partnership, is a long-term contract, generally around 20 to 25 years, between the public and private sectors. A PPP is set up deliver public infrastructure projects and/or related privately operated public services. Its defining characteristic is that the contract delivers public infrastructure assets or services using private sector finance.

PPPs have been used in Australia (and around the world) to deliver a range of social and economic infrastructure including courts, schools, hospitals, convention centres, correctional facilities, roads, public transportation networks and ports.

The key benefits of a PPP approach include Government harnessing private sector efficiencies and innovation that can be created during construction, whole-of-life cost efficiencies, outcome-focused service delivery and effective risk transfer to the private sector. An example of this innovation in the ACT Law Courts project is avoiding the requirement for temporary facilities.

Juris Partnership is a consortium of companies with national and international experience in delivering PPPs, including Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd, Macquarie Capital Group Limited, and key delivery partners and sponsors Programmed Facility Management Pty Ltd and Lyons architects.

Under the PPP contract for the new ACT Law Courts, Juris will be responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintaining the facility for the next 25 years.

How can I be kept up to date with the progress of the project?

Go to the Contacts page of this website and register to be sent the regular Project Updates and Notifications.