Was involved in a Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 case at Newtownards Magistrates’ Courts today. I was in Court 4 on the upper level.
There is a picture of the outside of it here but it really doesn’t convey the 1970’s décor and various mould growths that thrive in this building. It also has what I think might be the highest ceiling of any consultation room I have ever been in, and I made a note to bring a swing with me next time, to pass away the time until my client came. It is either that or look at my bones through the blinding interrogation room style lights that blaze down on you from at least 12 feet up. Explains why the room was free, and vacant.
Without a doubt the top floor of Newtownards court gets my vote as the worst environment to assist in family law cases in the United Kingdom. It’s basically a bus queue of people all standing on top of each other in a corridor no more than 6 feet wide, with supposedly private and confidential business echoing down the corridor. Even sign language echoes. The rest of the public who don’t make it into the 1970’s Siberian bread queue snake down the stairs like a massive conga, all jauntily balanced like an Olympic hopscotch team. As well as that the place is sweltering hot, even on a cold winters day like today.
It is also clearly an excellent place to put up Continuous Professional Development posters, as while waiting for my client today I heard a woman told by her solicitor that she wouldn’t get residence of her two children because she only saw them 2 days EVERY week! It was as much as I could do to stop myself from telling her what a load of old tosh that was and that Shared Residence was achievable at that level, to ditch her solicitor, give me a ring at Family Court Support and we will take it from there. Then I realised that I couldn’t move my arms to get my business cards out such was the crush.
I wasnt permitted to take any pictures whilst in the courthouse so I can’t show our readers what I mean about the facilities, but I have no doubt the pictures would have been over exposed due to the lighthouse bulbs, and the lenses would have fogged up from the heady mixture of body odour and the oil fired central heating . What have the Northern Ireland Court Service got against air conditioning?
If you know a worse court building, or even better if you can make a great building sound like a derelict warehouse, comment away.