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Court staff praised after mould upheaval

Topsy-turvy environment: Chief Justice Ian Kawaley says the issue of toxic mould reached a “boiling-over point” among staff

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley has commended court staff for their efforts and attitude after toxic mould was found in the Supreme Court Registry.

But Mr Justice Kawaley acknowledged that the impact of the discovery in court buildings on Front Street had caused significant upheaval and stress within the court system.

Alarming levels of three kinds of mould were discovered in October in three rooms at the premises. The find prompted the closure of the Registry as well as Supreme Court 3, which in turn caused disruption to the criminal court schedule and restricted access to court documents.

“We were aware of there being problems.” the Chief Justice said. “Perhaps if we had a more effective administrative structure for bringing these issues to the attention of people who can solve them, it would have helped.

“It simply reached a boiling-over point and quite rightly our staff refused to continue working there.

“It is impossible to under emphasise how stressful it has been for most staff members who have had to relocate very suddenly and unexpectedly.

“They have had to fit themselves into pre-existing spaces and their job functions have been unexpectedly redesigned because of the way the court delivers its services. There have been some inadvertent opportunities and efficiencies coming out of this dislocation, but some staff decided to leave. The environment has been very topsy-turvy.”

Decontamination work to remove traces of toxic mould inside the Supreme Court Registry began towards the end of last year and is expected to take months to complete.

In the meantime the registry has been moved to the Dame Lois Browne-Evans building, while what was known as Supreme Court 3 has been closed down and cases have had to be relocated to be heard.

Mr Justice Kawaley told The Royal Gazette: “The new registrar and staff have coped marvellously, although some staff have understandably found the upheaval stressful.

“While the courts have continued to function to an impressive extent. There was a short period of extreme crisis, but we are working effectively again now; everyone is committed to making sure that cases do not suffer.”