I was up early the other day for a visit to the new Rolls Building and to participate in a promotional film. I was an extra in a production that will not, I suspect, be nominated for an Oscar but is intended to promote the Technology and Construction Court (TCC), particularly internationally.
My first impression is that (suitably enough) the TCC’s new home is still a building site. I understand that the Rolls Building is due to be opened in October and certainly things seem to be at the snagging stage. Sounds familiar to a construction lawyer!
What were my initial impressions?
The building is arranged around an atrium with 31 court rooms. In addition to the TCC, the Commercial Court and Chancery Division will also be located there.
But what of my initial impressions? Well:
- The courts are no longer “one size fits all”. There are three sizes of court, with the biggest (that I saw) being the “super court” and this is certainly capable of holding a very substantial trial.
- I did not go through the front entrance but saw the inevitable airport security equipment ready to be installed. In the meantime, visits are arranged through the basement car park!
- Movement around the building may be a problem for the not-so-fit as there are only three lifts which will surely be overwhelmed at busy times. Otherwise there is an (admittedly very spectacular) spiral staircase going up to the fourth floor. Above this are offices and the judges’ rooms.
- One of the RCJ staff commented that the building was somewhat airless and certainly the hearing room where we filmed gave credence to this – or perhaps the air conditioning had an off day.
- Unlike some court buildings I have visited, there is ample seating space outside the courts and a multiplicity of consultation rooms that will, presumably, be available for hire.
- There will be no “TCC corridor” as such but rather matters will be allocated to a particular court room depending on the size of the case in question. The larger size of court should easily be able to accommodate multiple parties.
Finally, what about the filming process?
There was certainly plenty of hanging around and multiple takes even for a sequence largely comprised of extras. Just like the real thing I found myself sitting in the position of Instructing Solicitor but strangely my “barrister” was a trainee solicitor! Perhaps the least realistic thing about the filming was that everyone was smiling, which is not quite the usual look in court.
I think that the new building will be a great improvement on its predecessor and I hope that all goes well for its opening on time.