House: Supreme Court to get permanent home

  • The Dame Lois Browne-Evans building

    The Dame Lois Browne-Evans building

The Supreme Court is to get a permanent home in the building used to house the lower court, the Government has confirmed.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, told the House of Assembly last Wednesday that the cost of the move to the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building on Court Street in Hamilton was included in the $3.2 million budgeted for renovations to Sessions House.

Colonel Burch said the move of the criminal court was a “supporting project” to the renovations.

He added that some government departments based in the DLBE building would be moved to the nearby Government Administration Building on Parliament Street to create a centre for legal affairs.

Colonel Burch said: “Government has a plan for that building, and the plan is to move everything out that is not court-related.”

He added that the ministry had been in regular contact with the Supreme Court Registrar and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Legal Affairs about the move before Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons highlighted the problems faced by the courts in the judiciary’s annual report last month.

Mrs Justice Simmons said a lack of court space and shortage of judges had caused the wait between arraignment and trial to almost double from 3½ months to 6½ months.

She said no moves were made to house the Criminal Registry or a second criminal trial court in 2019 and further delays to trials could be expected if the problem was not tackled.

Mrs Justice Simmons added that the DLBE building could be modified to house the Supreme Court and become “Bermuda’s hall of justice”.

Sessions House, which had been the home of Supreme Court 1 along with the House of Assembly and the Senate, was closed last September because of concerns about air quality.

The House of Assembly and the Senate moved to Veritas Place on Court Street on a temporary basis, but the closure of Sessions House left the Supreme Court with only a single criminal courtroom in the DLBE building.

The renovations are expected to be completed in time to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bermuda Parliament later this year.

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Published Mar 18, 2020 at 10:54 am (Updated Mar 18, 2020 at 10:54 am)

House: Supreme Court to get permanent home

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