19 Feb 2010

Ceremonial sitting held at Supreme Court

10:27 pm on 19 February 2010

Top judges and lawyers from New Zealand and the Commonwealth have attended a ceremonial first sitting at the new Supreme Court.

New Zealand Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand was also present at the ceremony in Wellington on Friday.

Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias welcomed those who had come from around the country, as well as high-ranking judges from elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

They included Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court the Rt Hon Beverley McLachlin, the Hon Chief Justice Andrew Li from Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal and three justices from the High Court of Australia.

Dame Sian told the gathering the building symbolises a commitment to the rule of law in New Zealand.

She said she and her fellow judges appreciate their surroundings, but also feel deeply the obligation of the solemn trust to be discharged through their work in the court.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said he hopes lawyers will speak with pride in future of their Supreme Court appearances as they have in the past about going to the Privy Council in London.

Law Society president John Marshall, QC, paid tribute to those who worked on the building and its focus on "open justice" with passers-by able to see into the courtroom from Lambton Quay.

The building of the new court and restoration of the old Supreme Court cost more than $80 million. It was officially opened by Prince William in January.