On Saturday 13 October 2018, we toured the Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law as part of Brisbane Open House.
Brisbane Open House is an annual event which allows public access to significant buildings in Brisbane. Many of these buildings are not normally fully accessible to the public.
While many legal practitioners, litigants and the public access the building each day, here are some secrets of the building:
- The complex was opened in August 2012 at a cost of A$570m.
- The building houses the Supreme Court, District Court and specialist courts such as the Planning and Environment Court. Lower courts are housed in the adjacent Magistrates Court building, while the Commonwealth courts are located a short distance away on Tank Street.
- The building is located at the opposite end of George Street to the Queensland Parliament. This has been said to symbolically represent the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary.
- The building is equipped with solar panels, rain tanks, automated window shades and floor-mounted air conditioning to enhance its green credentials. The building's architectural design is based around glass to promote the idea of transparency and access to justice. The use of glass also significantly increases the natural light in the court rooms.
- The building features separate lifts and corridors to accommodate the public, judiciary, accused, witnesses and jurors.
- Portraits of the former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court are on display outside the ceremonial Banco Court on Level 3.
- 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 arson attack, which all but destroyed the original court building built in the 1880s. A selection of items recovered from the ruins are on display in the Supreme Court Library.
- The Supreme Court Library, located on Level 12, is a free resource open to the public for legal research. The Library also curates the Sir Harry Gibbs Legal Heritage Centre on the ground floor, which features rotating displays of Queensland's legal past.
- Building tours for groups and schools can be organised by contacting the Supreme Court Library.