Jame Fuggle
Jame Fuggle

Family Court move opposed

THE Family Law Court in Lismore may be moved in a Federal cost-cutting measure.

Under the plan, the court, currently housed in the Westlawn building on the corner of Molesworth and Woodlark streets, would be moved to the Zadoc Street State complex.

Lismore lawyers are opposing the move as ill-thought out and a cost-cutting exercise that would impinge on the effective delivery of legal services.

Federal Member for PageJanelle Saffin also opposes the move on the grounds that it did not make sense to move a facility that had long been operating well from its present site.

Richard Foster, CEO of theFamily Court and Acting CEO of the Federal Magistrates’ Court, has confirmed the potential move was intended to save money.

“There is no question that the Family Law Courts will continue to deliver the best possible service to the community of Lismore,” Mr Foster said.

“In doing so, however, it is not unreasonable that the courts should review how and where its services are delivered to ensure that public funds are used in the most sensible way.

“The reason that the Family Law Courts have been looking at co-tenanting with the State courts is to see if any cost savings can be obtained and redirected into providing services that will most dir-ectly benefit clients of the courts.

“Negotiations about the proposal are continuing with the NSW Attorney-General’s Department”.

Far North Coast Law Society vice-president James Fuggle said lawyers involved in Lismore’s Family Court matters ‘are veryopposed to the move’.

“As a Law Society we oppose it. We see it as a loss of good facilities. The (existing) Family Court has evolved into a purpose-built facility that works well.

“The Lismore Courthouse (Zad-oc Street) is a purpose-built State building for criminal and civil matters and such a move would impact on both jurisdictions and take away resources from both.”

Mr Fuggle said his society was also aware that the Sheriff’s Office was against any proposed move by the Family Law Court into the NSW court building, citing thelikelihood of problems arising in the provision of adequate security.

He said the sheriffs would not be able to provide security for the Federal area of the building, but would have to intervene in the event of any physical altercations.

Mr Fuggle said there would be too many people using the building and the mix of emotional and highly-charged people involved in Family Court proceedings would be a ‘recipe for disaster’.

He said lawyers acknowledged the Zadoc Street building was alr-eady being used to near capacity.

“We don’t see how they could fit the Family Court in,” he said.

Jenny Cook, chairperson of the Far North Coast Family Law Practitioners Association, was not available for comment, but the association is known to be lobbying hard against the proposed move.

Ms Saffin has already sent a letter to the Attorney-General outlining her concerns over the issue.

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